Parenting

progression

I’m learning that age has little to do with maturity.

Maturity means to become ripe or fully developed. The problem within our culture is that so few are living in a mature manner that we have lost our bearings of what it actually looks like to be mature and thus our personal goals of maturity have become skewed.

Although, it would be easy to just talk about spiritual maturity or relational and practical maturity, there is no separation between these, they are one and the same. So let’s just discuss maturity as a whole including implications of our faith and our daily lives.

The first step in becoming mature is truly realizing and embedding in ourselves that we are not the center of the universe. This sounds a little comical, but one common trait  I see in immature people (and in myself) is that we live our lives as if what we do, think and feel is more important than what others do, think and feel. This is so very key. And it’s not an easy position to move away from, some people never do. But we can’t allow their example to be our goal.

The only way I’ve witnessed folks taking that gigantic step away from self-centeredness is with strong and committed relationship with God the Father, through Jesus Christ. In Christ we can receive the kind of love that fulfills our need for attention and the need to be heard. And as we bath in the Love of God, He fills us with a completeness that frees us from trying to gain affirmation from people and gives us the option to actual take on the heart of the Father, so that we would be able to listen to and sincerely care for others.

I love the movie the Matrix! I even like the two sequels (although Matrix geeks hate them). If you’re unfamiliar with the Matrix you might need to go watch it and or skip over this paragraph, explaining The Matrix might make my brain hemorrhage (it’s too complex and it’s too early). I use to watch that movie with great revelation thinking how I was being depicted as the main character, Neo. I was the hero who was coming from disbelief in himself, developing into a victorious and renowned conquerer. Every line was encouraging me to be the best version of myself, to be the most awesome person I could be. And I know God was in that, He was building me up. But in recent days I’ve lost interest in “being” Neo. I’ve started thinking about Morpheus. Morpheus is the guy who helped Neo to understand himself. He is the guy who believed in Neo when no one else did. Morpheus was not looking to be the One, he wanted to help the One.

I believe there is a progression for each of us in our lives, where we can use our words to tell others what will help them, not telling others things that only glorify how smart and wise we are; using our words as a service to others versus a service unto ourselves.  There is a progression where we’ll be able to have grace for whatever flaws others possess and love them anyway, over and beyond their flaws. We will be able to listen to them and hear what they are telling us. As we take on this posture, the Lord will give us insight into what we should be praying for them and what He is trying to tell them. We will be able to love and not hold other’s sins against them. To forgive them for whatever they could possibly do to us. To offer our selves as a sacrifice for them. In other words, to love others.

But the very first step in growing in maturity is in a very sober way realizing where we are and where we’re not. We don’t need to pretend to be something we’re not, that will only hinder our ripening. But, we need to expose ourself to the truth and begin to pray that God would bring us to a higher level of maturity. For our own good and for the good of the Kingdom. Let’s allow genuine maturity be a goal of ours. Let’s make progression.

 

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Parenting

Car Salesman

I can smell a salesman from a mile away. They smell funny. They twists conversations to benefit them and their product. Here in the south in the “city of churches” (although I have dubbed it more appropriately the “city of pastors”) men are constantly trying to sell their church to you. In stead of keeping their central focus caring for people, they’ve recruited selfish ambition to help them become “successful”, tainting their ability to be trusted and sadly tainting others ability to trust or have interest in God.

I’m guilty of this way of “doing ministry” as well. So if you’ve been harmed by such people please forgive us. We are idiots.

As I have been transitioning into a new call to plant a ministry, where I will be free to make different mistakes than my predecessors, I’ve begun to believe that since God is the one who called me out of my normal life then it will be God who sends me the people He wants me to care for.

The funny thing is that as soon as I began to really care for people with the kind of love God has for His people I’ve realized that it’s a hard road. It’s most like parenting, you care for another person and are given the ability to help them, but you have to watch them make their own decisions, many of which only causes them harm. They tend to not listen to what you’ve said, you stay up late worrying for them. You pray for them as it seems some days even their existence is in the balance. It’s tough.

That’s why I’ve decided to lay down my salesman outfit and my smelly hair grease. I’m not looking to make a sale any longer. I could care less if folks decide to come to our gathering. Being at the meeting is only a small portion of what it means to Shepard a soul anyways. And it’s not even a necessity.

People need to know the love of God, it is the thing that draws them into Him and grows them up. People don’t need hard discipline to make them disciples they need overwhelming love. That is the environment that will cause them to flourish.

As of late I’ve been wondering how I can spiritually discern those whom God has called me to care for. Would God show me “in the spirit”? Would those people glimmer? Have name tags

I got the answer last night. I went to a worship concert at a local church. As I was worshiping a couple friends came up to me to give me a hug. I asked one of them how they were, they said “It hasn’t been good, but it’s getting better. Can we meet?” I said “Yes!”, of coarse. After that short conversation I tried to get back to worshiping, but in stead I was struck with the emotions of my heart. My friend was not doing good, God was letting me experience their burden. I wept and prayed quietly.

That’s how I will know. The measure of love put in my heart for them.

Should I go out and try to recruit as many people as possible to be a part of “my church”? With a twitch in my eye that has come from a restless night of worry/prayer, let me just say… nope, not me. I’d rather build up the ones I have in hopes that one day I’ll be sending them out to care for those God entrusts to them.