When You Think You Have It All Together, Maybe You Don't
Recently, I was having a conversation with a pastor from another church about some of the struggles that he was facing to effect change in his church. He rattled off a long list of grievances and complaints, lifting them up in contrast to his own blamelessness in the conflict.
I listened to him for forty-five minutes as he talked about all of the things that he wanted to accomplish, but was unable to because the church leadership didn't get why he wanted to do all of those things.
Finally, I asked him, "Have you asked them what they want from you? Have you listened to them? Have you spent time listening to their stories and learning their history? Maybe if you took the time to do that, they would be more inclined to listen to you?"
It was easy advice to give because I could easily see what he was doing. And I could easily see what he was doing, because I had been there before. I have had seasons in my life when I have become so wrapped up in my own ambitions, and pride in my accomplishments that I neglect the relationships and connections that helped me to achieve them.
And sometimes I also forget that without God's blessings I wouldn't have those relationships and connections, and definitely would not have any of the accomplishments that I have managed to achieve because of them.
In Deuteronomy chapter 8, Moses speaks to the people of Israel about a time in their future when they will finally achieve all they have dreamed, and he says:
"Be careful not to forget the Lord your God... When you eat all you want and build nice houses and live in them... You might say to yourself, 'I am rich because of my own power and strength,' but remember the Lord your God! it is he who give you the power to become rich..."
I have discovered I have no problems crying out and pleading with God when times are tough. I pray constantly when I am struggling in life--even if it is a prayer of lament, or a declaration of anger or any number of conversations with God about my present condition.
But when things are going great, or I am filled with strong ambitions--it's all too easy sometimes to rely on my own strength rather than turn to God. It's easy to neglect my relationship with God when I am leaning on my own understanding. It's also easy to forget about the people God has placed in my life to share my journey, my burdens and to also share the joys and triumphs.
May you take the time today to give thanks for the people in your life whom God has given you to cherish and to share your journey. May you also take the time to tend your relationship with God, checking in with God not only when things are tough, but also when they aren't. And may you lean not on you own understanding, but trust in the Lord with all your heart.
And may the grace and peace of Christ be with you now and always. Amen.