One of my favorite books is a fantastic little work called Leadership Prayers. In it the author makes a profound statement:
Lord help us to agree on what is true about who we are and where we are, God, so that we may agree on where to go and the best way to get there.
Self awareness is huge. In my opinion, although over time I have matured spiritually I essentially struggle with the same core issues that I did back in 1991 when I first answered the call to ministry.
I am too confrontational. I speak my mind way too much. I am too blunt. I jump to conclusions. I make hasty decisions. I think I know much more than I actually do. I move too fast. And I pretty much have no patience.
All of these things were on full display 5 years ago during my first big meeting in my new role of Executive Director of Reconciliation. I helped facilitate a two day task force meeting. The task force had done wonderful work over the years in opening up the eyes of the EFCA to the reality of our diverse world.
I facilitated the meeting like a bull in a china shop. I am pretty sure some (if not all) were offended at some point, as I have a special talent for doing that. No matter how hard I tried to get out of my own way I couldn’t.
There’s nothing more frustrating for me than myself. I marvel at men and women who have a calm temperament. I idolize people who can talk to others without being blunt. I wish that I could be as the Scriptures say “wise as a serpent but harmless as a dove.”
Why can’t I be less confrontational? Why must I always be adamant about getting tasks done? Why don’t I listen more, talk less? I used to beat myself up with these types of questions all the time.
But I’ve stopped doing that because I realize something. 1st Samuel 16:7 says “Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” In spite of my many outward flaws, one thing everybody knows about me is this: I love Jesus.
So as I confront when I should calm down, talk loudly out of turn, use my words as blunt objects, make wrong assumptions, and act as Mr. Know-It-All miraculously fruit for the Kingdom will still be produced, in spite of me. What a wonderful realization!