We need what we resist

This morning I had two very distinct realities happening in my heart simultaneously.

One - I had a strong sense that my calling and purpose requires healthy and life-giving leadership from me. What does that mean? In part, I live without compromising my moral authority; I confront people; I take care of myself emotionally, spiritually and physically; and help develop people.

Two - The weight of responsibility that comes with leading feels too heavy to bear. There is fear and reverence attached to leading people. I'm humbled and left struggling for words when I consider the fact that people let me near their bleeding hearts and they allow me to celebrate with them in their most significant triumphs. These moments of tragedy and triumph are reserved as the most sacred spaces. Because I said 'yes' to loving and leading, I'm expected to be in the halls of these sacred spaces and at a minimum, I'm invited into the cherished spaces of sadness and success.

I have had such dual reality moments before.

Today, this dual reality hit me with a heavy fist when I was reading a great song from the prayer book - Song 37 verse 3 (Psalms 37:3), "Trust in the Lord and do good..." [1]  On the surface, this verse seemed tame and polite. But when sitting with Holy Spirit and with a heart postured in humility and hunger before God, those tame and polite words morphed into flaming swords, penetrated my soul and exposed my motives and character. It didn't leave me alone in this soul-bearing experience. Those flaming swords cut me open, and summoned me to recognize my need for what I resist. I don't resist trusting in Jesus. I do resist the heavy weight of responsibility, while hoping for the reward of faithful leadership. That sounds childlike. I want the cookie, but I don't want to eat the broccoli.

As I was reflecting on this dual reality in my prayer time, I observed four benefits of embracing what we need instead of resisting.

1. It sobers me. - It's easy to get intoxicated on the drink of my own success. To trust in the Lord means you do not first trust in yourself. Proverbs 3:5 may be the most famous verse when it comes to trusting God. Solomon, the wise leader said - "Trust in the Lord with all your heart." If I'm trusting me by even a small percentage, then I can't trust the Lord with ALL of my heart. I can only trust Him with a portion of my heart. The songwriter in Psalm 37 instructs us and admonishes us to TRUST in the Lord. You and I can't handle the potency of getting intoxicated by our own success. That drink leads to pride, and such a duo is deadly to the soul. Trusting in the Lord sobers me and awakens me to the beautiful reality that anything good I do is rooted in His unfailing love and His trustworthy character. I am called to trust IN the Lord.

2. It crushes me. - I mentioned that when I am intoxicated by my own successes, it leads me to pride, or in fact my intoxication may be a symptom of my addiction to pride. Regardless, the spirit of the age wants me to believe that I am the center of my solar system and all of my life revolves around me. When I throw my life and choose to lose it, the only alternative I have found is to trust in Jesus. Jesus teaches that if we want life, we have to lose ours. If we want to follow the God-man, we have to live crucified. This is a tension that must be felt. If we are Christians, we have been crucified with Christ. That's a fact. But secondarily, I have to live the reality that requires the daily engagement of who I really am - a humble son of God, who is made alive because of Jesus. Therefore, I am not the center of my solar system, but Christ is. The weight of responsibility crushes me, and more importantly crushes my self-reliance.

3. It exposes. - The fissures and cracks within my character, skill set and competency get exposed to the weight of leadership. That's a good thing. Actually, a very good thing. Without the testing of my character in seasons of suffering and patience, how would I ever know that a fault line exists in my leadership and in my heart? When these fissures and cracks are exposed, it's the mercy of God inviting us into an upgrade, an encounter and a moment of experiencing God's supernatural grace. Romans 5 portrays a powerful progression that leads us to hope. It starts with suffering; then moves on to patience; then builds character and then moves on to hope. Such a progression can only be endured and discovered if we embrace what is written before this moment. The Apostle Paul describes a rejoicing lifestyle because we STAND in grace. The empowering ability of God to become and to experience is rooted in our standing in grace. The weight of responsibility exposes our opportunities for growth, and for that we should smile. Can I trust Him when I'm suffering? Can I trust Him and not be impatient? Can I trust Him to satisfy the soul with a character that shines? Can I trust Him with hope and not be disappointed?  

4. It prioritizes. - You know what often takes priority when I'm resisting the weight of responsibility? Me. I make it all about me. I seek comfort. My pain seeks pleasure. I do good, but only for me. Trusting in the Lord is about doing good to others and serving others. When it becomes about us, the deception is at work. I go right back to getting focused on me and become intoxicated again with myself, only to be cheered by the voices of the spirit of the age. The weight of responsibility clarifies what often becomes fuzzy. God's priority is people. He loves people. He wants the best for them. He doesn't want our version of the best for them, but His version of the best for them. My version of wanting the best for my children would mean a suffering free life. However, a suffering free life is a life without character and a life without hope. That's why we find the weight of responsibility shaking up our priorities and reminding us what's really important - People! There's no greater love than those who are laying down their personal dreams, desires and passions for the sake of others. To trust in the Lord is to not trust other priorities and to not trust yourself first, but it is to do good for those who matter most - People. And when I say people, I mean all people. Not people of a certain color, race or creed, but ALL people.  

So, what do I suggest for you and me? 

  1.  Ask Holy Spirit to expose the areas where you don't trust the Lord.
  2.  Ask Holy Spirit why you don't trust the Lord in those areas.
  3.  Confess as sin and a violation of love, what Holy Spirit is showing you.
  4.  Verbally break any agreements, attitudes and beliefs you established when you were trusting something or someone else more than Jesus.
  5.  Ask Jesus to show you what you can trust about Him.
  6.  Search the bible with a friend or by yourself, and find a promise that supports what Jesus is showing you.
  7.  Make a commitment to daily declare that you trust in Jesus and tell Him why you trust in Him by reminding Him of the verse you found in the bible.
  8.  Write down how your life, heart, vision and attitude is changing for the better.


[1] Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Lance BaneComment