My first semester at DTS I took a Spiritual Life class with Dr. Ralston. It was amazing. I took the class online and the great thing about that was we could get a transcript of the lectures. I took this snippet from one of the lectures as it changed my life and the way I thought about my ministry. I share it today because I believe it is always good to do some self-examination and find out what our true motives are when we are doing ministry.
“One of the biggest shadows inside a lot of leaders is the deep insecurity about their own identity, their own worth. The insecurity is hard to see in extraverted people, but the extraversion is often there precisely because they’re insecure about who they are. They are trying to prove themselves in the external world rather than wrestling with their inner identity.”
Macintosh comments, “The majority of tragically fallen Christian leaders during the past 10 to 15 years have been baby boomers who felt driven to achieve and succeed in an increasingly competitive and demanding church environment. Most often their ambition has been a subtle and dangerous combination of their own dysfunctional personal needs. In a certain measure of altruistic desire to expand the kingdom of God, however, because ambition is easily disguised in Christian circles and couched in spiritual language, for example the need to fulfill the Great Commission and expand the church, the dysfunctions that drive Christian leaders often go undetected and unchallenged until it is too late. A paradox of sorts existed in the lives of most of the leaders who experience significant failures. The personal insecurities, feeling of inferiority, and the need for parental approval among other dysfunctions that compel these people to become successful leaders were very often the same issues that precipitated their failure.”
You see what people are doing in Christian leadership? They’re trying to compensate. They’re trying to get the affirmation, the security, and the significance; they’re prostituting the role to their own needs. When leaders operate with a deep unexamined insecurity about their own identity, they create institutional settings that deprive other people of their identity as a way of dealing with the unexamined fears in the leaders themselves, and leaders not only embed in their organizations what they intend unconsciously to get across, but they also convey their inner conflicts and the inconsistencies in their own personal natures.
Human beings have always employed an enormous variety of clever devices for running away from themselves. We can keep ourselves so busy, fill our lives with so many diversions, stuff our heads with so much knowledge, involve ourselves with so many people, and cover so much ground that we never have time to probe the fearful and wonderful world within, and by middle life most of us are accomplished fugitives from ourselves; see the issues?” – Dr. Ralston, Dallas Theological Seminary
I’m reposting this story from The Village Church because I thought it was really good…
When Katy from TVC stopped by her local dry-cleaner, she’d trade small talk with the Muslim owner. But this week, after getting equipped with how to share the Gospel with Muslims at an IHOPE workshop, when she picked up her dry cleaning, she asked her Muslim friend what he and his family celebrated – if anything – during Christmas. She was a little nervous to ask that first question, but what came next was very sweet.
That simple question prompted him to ask her what she & her family did during the holidays. When Katy shared that she would be praying, spending time in church and celebrating the birth of our Savior Jesus, he was absolutely speechless. “I thought Christians got drunk on Christmas,” said the owner.
That led to a dialogue on what true followers of Jesus believe. Katy discovered her Muslim friend had no idea what the reason for the season was. She planted seeds, and now, she’s looking through her house to find more dry-cleaning to drop off to extend the conversation.
Many Muslims in the Metroplex have no idea why Christians celebrate Christmas. Like Katy’s dry cleaner, many think Christmas is about Santa, trees, gifts, food, and drinking. This season, like Katy, you can give a Muslim friend the best Christmas gift ever – the gift of hearing the Gospel for the first time.
Save the date now and plan to join us at the next IHOPE Muslim Outreach Equipping Workshop –on Saturday, February 23rd 9:00-10:30 AM (location details are pending). Join the movement and get equipped to help Muslims find and follow Jesus.
TVC Covenant Member & Home Group Leader
Co-Founder & Executive Director for IHOPE Ministries
When I DJ, I’m always trying to please a room full of people – it’s quite a feat I tell ya. You’ve got kids asking to hear Justin Bieber and grandparents requesting Ella Fitzgerald all the while the bride has told you not to play any country or anything by Beyonce or the Black Eyed Peas or U2…
So I am like the Wizard of Oz sitting behind my DJ booth literally making magic happen for two, three and sometimes even six hours straight and I always seem to get one girl that thinks she is the DJ and that she really knows what is best. “Play some Kendrick Lamar” she says… “Kendrick Lamar?” It’s not a name I know, I’ve heard it in passing, but it’s not something that is ever requested and definitely not something that everyone is going to know. “Will everyone dance to Kendrick Lamar?” I say in response slowly transferring the responsibility to their shoulders. “Yes, everyone will LOVE IT! It’s going to be so great!!”
I’ve heard this line now probably 100 times. There is always that person that thinks they have their finger on the pulse of society. They think that their personal playlist is what everyone is grooving too and they are oblivious to the fact that I get PAID 100′s of dollars per hour because I KNOW WHAT I’M DOING. I’ve DJ’d so many parties and worked so many crowds that I actually do know how to read people. I give you what you want before you even know that you want it. You will find yourself swaying your butt to my beats even when you didn’t think that was going to happen. I go slow when you want fast because I know that you can only handle so much fast. I speed it back up right when you are hungry for speed and I keep the party ebbing and flowing all night like a well choreographed dance routine.
“This song is a sleeper!” Another girl whines as she huffs by the DJ booth. C+C Music Factory is blasting from my Bose speakers and the crowd behind her is singing every word and dancing away and LOVING it. She grabs her friend and storms off in a tizzy as if my song choice is a personal insult to her. Yes, the song was before her time, but the rest of us can only handle so much Ke$ha, Bieber and Britney.
“Can I sing a song?” This time the lady is thin and attractive and I’ve got a good feeling about it so I say, “Sure.” She does a great job singing a song and the crowd really loves it. I think that she is happy, the crowd is happy, she got her 5 minutes of fame… but that is never enough. Being in the spotlight is very addictive. Once you get a little taste you can’t help but want more. “Can I sing another song? Please?” I’m not sure why a person’s tone goes to begging so quickly, but it does when someone is desperate. It’s like they are feening for another hit of crack. “Okay, I’ll let you do another one.” Eventually I have to cut them off. They start thinking that the reception is their personal time to shine and suddenly it is about them and their vocal talents, not the bride and groom or the rest of the crowd.
Lastly, there is that girl that not only wants to have you play their requests all night, but she brings in her iPod and insists that you play her song that is going to be a hit. “What, you don’t have it? No problem, can’t you just plug in my iPhone/iPod/Shuffle/Android/Walkman?” Ugh. It’s not enough that I’m juggling singers and lighting and dancing on the dance floor myself but now you want to plug in your device and integrate it seamlessly into everything else that I’m doing. Okay. I can do this… and I do, and normally the song is an EPIC FAIL. My assistant will often say, “Cut it” people will even come over to the booth and say, “can you change the song” but no, I force them to endure the lameness that way, the person that requested that I play the song knows that they are responsible for clearing the dance floor. I want them to go away hanging their head in shame so that they NEVER request another song again, or, at least not one that is on their playlist because if I don’t have it, it’s probably not a hit.
And ladies, I’m sorry to pick on you cause I do love you… but, it does always seem to be a gal that storms off in a fit if she doesn’t like what I play. It’s always a woman who gets drunk and causes a big scene dropping glasses of wine on the dance floor and it’s almost always a lady that gropes me inappropriately or flashes me in hopes that I will play their song or let them sing on the mic. Really, it doesn’t take all of that, it just takes being nice and flashing a smile…
It seems that lately my life revolves around going to groups. Home group, accountability group, group therapy, group projects… It is something that I cannot escape, nor do I want to. Recently I’ve been attending an in-depth redemption recovery group that has been so cathartic and… well, hilarious. Sin can be ridiculous sometimes especially when viewed in the light of day. In the moment sometimes it seems so overwhelming and burdensome, but when you look at it through the grace that Christ gives us then it is marginal.
As much as it pains me I’ll admit that I still struggle with sin. Yep. I do. I struggle with gluttony and the inability to tell myself no. I love pleasure, who doesn’t? I love to eat and spend money and masturbate just as much as most men and maybe a little more. I don’t like to admit that, but I think it’s time we all stop pretending that we don’t sin. Over the years I’ve gotten better, but it’s a constant battle that I often lose.
There were seven of us in the group last night. We meet in empty rooms at a church. The hard metal chairs are cold and uncomfortable but the conversation is easy. ”How has your week been?” Paul, our group leader, asks. He has gray hair and looks like he just stepped out of a Gap magazine but he’s extremely genuine and that puts everyone at ease. “I’ve been struggling with meeting random guys off and on for the past year and it is getting out of hand.” The man that says this looks like a baseball player. He’s a seminary graduate. He has the kind of personality and demeanor that would make him instantly popular in any setting and the things that he confesses are shocking because they are such a juxtaposition to the image that he presents. The more he talks the more I can see how our thought patterns are similar. We open the door just a tiny bit to sin and then suddenly it’s wide own and we can’t pull it back shut. At this point it is normally fear and self-loathing that force us to reach out for help to get the door shut.
I’m always surprised at the transparency of the men seated around me. It’s a privilege to sit next to them and hear about their lives. We rarely see behind the masks of people we are around every day.
One guy in the group talks about how he wants to be a better husband and father and in comparison to the rest of us his struggle seemed almost minor. In my head I sit their thinking, “Do you really need to be here?” The reason I think this is because I feel that his sin is small in comparison to many of the rest of us, but that’s foolish thinking. It is easy to add weight to certain sins and even rate them on a scale of “Sort of Bad” to “Your about to burn in hell!” I was blessed that this man had put aside his pride and joined up with a bunch or serious derelicts to overcome his sin. He said, “I’ve been to other groups, but here, people are real.” I couldn’t agree more.
All of us in group want to be free of sexual sin in some capacity. Maybe it is pornography or maybe it is something more, but what bonds us together is not our sin, but our desire to be more like Christ. Everyone struggles with sin, but it takes a lot of courage to sit in a room and divulge your darkest secrets. Digging up those sins, laying them at the foot of the cross, asking for help – that is when the healing begins. Unfortunately, fear of rejection and fear of what other people will think holds us back from telling the truth. This fear is unwarranted and irrational. At the end of the day I don’t love people less because they struggle, I love them more. Those people are my brothers. Those men I “get” and they “get” me. At group we are all broken. We’ve been stripped bare of our pride and we stand raw and exposed. We have become a blank canvas awaiting the brush stoke of the master’s hand awaiting to see what he will paint next.
When I left last night from our group session I couldn’t help but feel like I was walking on air. The truth does indeed set you free and the bonus of that is the deeper understanding of who you are in Christ and the great love that he has for you. It’s humbling and overwhelming. I literally swim in a sea of grace and for that I’m truly thankful…
For most of my life I’ve wondered if God really did indeed keep his promises… I’d heard a thousand sermons. I’d read the entire Bible, but still, I felt that somehow I was being overlooked. Where are you God? It was a question I asked often.
For most of my life I’ve been consumed with myself. I spent hours thinking about me, wallowing ins self-pity and often self-loathing. Insecurity, shame, low self-esteem – these were adjectives that were graffitied on the walls of my life.
But last year I joined a community group and God brought a few other people into my life and I was shown so much love and grace through them that my blinders were removed. God was there all along. He was carefully guiding my steps, growing me, shaping me according to his will and to make me ready for his purposes. For years the very things that I thought were keeping me apart from God were the very things that actually made me see how much he really loves me.
It’s easy as Christians to think that the church and people and even God are going to let you down. It’s easy to find yourself stuck and despairing, but God is always there even when no one else is around. Those lonely moments are quiet opportunities to cry out to him, to listen, to pray, and to wait. Psalm 40:1 says, “I waited patiently for the Lord, He inclined and heard my cry.” I know there is truth in that verse.
This year I have been consumed by the love of God so much so that my heart that was once hardened to the truth – and to the Love of God – has now exploded. I have been shattered by the outpouring of love and grace that has been shown to me by others and by God. I have a new hunger and thirst for righteousness that I never had before and like Paul I boast in my weakness, because it is in my weakness that God is made strong.
For most of my life I was consumed by shame and fear, but now that is all gone. I am consumed by the love of Christ and I pray that you have the opportunity to experience that in your life.