presumption

Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness.    – James 3 : 1

***

How gracious a God we serve that continuously reminds us of our need for Him.

As a leader in the Recovery ministry at my church, i constantly have to balance cowardice and courage, humility and arrogance. Whenever i find myself unwilling to step up and voice my opinion, i am forced to wonder if i am being judicious or weak. Likewise, whenever i feel compelled to speak, i must confront a similar dichotomy that exists between proper confidence in the gospel and improper confidence in my own wisdom. Often it is difficult for me to know upon which side of the line i am standing, and i feel that tonight i was seriously mistaken on this point.

i have been for some time wondering about the merits of a particular format, and felt the need this evening at the meeting to express my concerns. Primarily, i was afraid that our large group discussions were not as productive as they should be, and it was my opinion that if other methods were more effective then we should put more emphasis into them.

As usual, i could not have been more wrong.

Rather than having a heart of prayer and humility that God would use what we had available, i now see in retrospect that i had a heart of wanting the program to look more like my agenda. And in order to demonstrate that to me (and of course accomplish many other purposes as well), God showed up in a powerful way this evening. Many people who had never been there before stepped up courageously to share their stories, and i began to see that i had forgotten something that i knew when i too was that fresh and unfettered. i remembered why i had been asked to lead in the first place: it wasn’t because i was so put-together, but because i was so raw and honest even in my brokenness. Truly these first-time visitors were the leaders tonight.

***

Just as Step One emphasizes that we are powerless over our addictions and compulsions, so too are we powerless over the results of our efforts. Even were i to teach the most compelling lessons, say the most poignant remarks, unpack the most deep and spiritual wisdom, it would matter not at all if God were not there to bring these things into fruition in the hearts of the hearers.

Just to bring the point home, i watched afterwards as two men, both of whom had come to the group for the first time this evening, reached out and bonded over having shared experiences and stories, and it didn’t require my “leaderly” intervention at all.

We all have the desire to be needed, for our input to be invaluable, for our wisdom and strength to be a boon to the Kingdom. And it is nice when these things are true. Somehow, though, it is even nicer when they aren’t. God doesn’t need me. But He wants me. Not because i am indispensable to His work, but in spite of the fact that i am not. And that is His love for me, not that He rescued someone awesome, but that He rescued someone who without Him is utterly useless.

True power is found not in leaving the light switch on and putting things just so, but in flipping it off and watching God work in a dark room.

***

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