I simply want to bring up a phenomena I have both witnessed and experienced. As a church, the propensity in us all is to turn “inward”. What I mean is we put the majority of our thoughts, energy and even work on creating, building and developing stuff for those already at a church. And I have to admit, it feels good. As a church participant my whole life I really like the idea of ministries, programs and events that feed me. Because let’s just say it: I personally like to feel comfortable. I like knowing everybody there. I like knowing the inside language and laughing at the jokes we all know. It feels good, warm, just like Jesus intended it…. right?
There are those things that are awkward or uncomfortable to talk about. Have you ever stopped to ask why? In some cases it’s because they shouldn’t be said or should be reserved for only those who know us really well. However I’ve noticed another category of uncomfortable/awkward and that is those things we don’t want to change or even look at. As a preacher/ leader/ pastor I am regularly faced with these situations. Sometimes it’s a meeting where everybody seems to know there is an “elephant” in the room that if somebody would just be bold enough to bring it up we might actually be able to deal with it and move forward. Sure it’s awkward and uncomfortable, but as a leader I would be doing the church/organization a disservice if I didn’t bring it up because it’s what’s holding us back. Sometimes it’s relationally, among friends, family or even in a counseling setting where although it may “feel” nice to avoid certain conversations it can greatly hinder the depth of a relationship and at worst can build resentment and bitterness in people. Now before I move to the next area, please understand, these awkward/ uncomfortable conversations are not to be entered into quickly, rashly and without love. We must desire good things and talk and act like we do.
Here’s another great blog post from my friend TJ Addington that I wanted to share with you:
I confess that I do a lot of thinking about me, my situation, my needs, my wants and my desires. Can you relate? I don’t like to admit it but I am selfish to the core. It is the human condition and only Jesus can tear open our hearts for unselfish living – bit by bit as we come to grips with the fact that as Christ followers life is not ultimately about us!
Jesus made a profound statement as he contemplated his own death. He confessed, “Now my soul is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour?’ No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour. Father, glorify your name!” (John 12:27-28).
I was reading in Proverbs 1 this week and these verse hit me:
7 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.
32 For the simple are killed by their turning away, and the complacency of fools destroys them; 33 but whoever listens to me will dwell secure and will be at ease, without dread of disaster.”
–Proverbs 1:7, 32-33
And I got to thinking — am I teachable? Am I looking to learn? grow? gain new insight? Then I thought back to a book I finished reading during Christmas break (Leaders Who Last by Dave Kraft) where he said: “Fearing, resisting, or balking at the need to change, grow, and adapt can be your undoing as a leader.”
Jesus was talking with the disciples and began explaining how difficult it is for self-sufficient (“rich”) people to be “saved”. And love the interchange that happens next: “When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished, saying, “Who then can be saved?” But Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” (Matthew 19:25-26 ESV)
I personally believe the reason Jesus says these things is that for the rich/ self-sufficient person there is little need. If you are relying on yourself than you see no need to ask for help. The problem is that when it comes to things of real consequence we don’t have the resources to handle it. When I speak of “real consequence” I’m talking about spiritual things, salvation things, and even transformational things.
January 1st! It’s a new year. There is so much that is associated with new years. It’s about a fresh start, maybe a new beginning. What was behind us can be learned from but 2011 is now in the past and we can’t go back there. So what will 2012 mean for you? What intentional steps will you take?
One thing I’ve been learning is that growth doesn’t happen without intentional movement. Obviously we need to look at where we’ve been, where we are and where we’re called to be. That precedes our decisions on what we might do this year.