As the end of 2008 continues to arrive quicker then I know what to do with, I wanted to reflect a little bit on what I’ve learned about myself. This past year has been a year of many firsts and big happenings:
-I got married
-I wrote and edited a book
-My Grandpa (who taught me what a humble, loving and hardworking man looks like) really digressed in his health—he now has full blown Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and Dementia. Please pray for my Grandma as she takes care of him everyday, as well as for restoration and peace as his life winds down.
-My organization grew almost 40% from last year even in the midst of bad economic times
-For the first time I was speaking around the country for a good majority of the year
-My best friend moved from Chicago to San Francisco
-My wife and I are remodeling our condo
-I started a blog—something I said I’d never do! :)
-And I’m still in Grad School…these classes just keep dragging on and on. Ugh.
With all of those major events happening in one year it seems like my mind has been in a constant whirlwind. I’m not one who likes change. I don’t like limbo either. And yet that seems to be the exact place the Lord continues to put me in day after day, month after month. So I can either flow with Him or not. As my Dad says, “When the Spirit moves, just move with it!” And that’s what I’m trying to do with an open spirit that doesn’t paralyze me into fearing what is uncomfortable. It’s funny for me, because my ‘uncomfortable’ is not the unknown. It’s not people crying, sharing their lives or deepest darkest secrets. My uncomfortable is not entering into a constructive place of tension and staying there without being able to give an answer. My uncomfortable is rearranging my living space. It’s moving into a new office or condo. It’s buying a TV or some new furniture. I don’t know if this means that my priorities are dead on, or they’re way off. But I do know that I for sure know what makes me queasy.
There have been quite a few highlights this past year, and I hope many of them are just the start for what is to come. But if I only focus on the good stuff I’ll never grow. Therefore I’m going to publically self-assess my own weaknesses and start to work on them. None of us are without weaknesses; drat those weaknesses! So here are my two major weaknesses:
1. Self-doubt in the midst of trying to do great things for the Lord
2. Always trying to please everyone
The more I think about it the more I start to realize that my self-doubt comes out of my will to please everyone. No, I cannot please everyone. This understanding that I truly can’t please (when I say please I mean: help, assist, accommodate, agree, etc) everyone makes me think that I’m letting people down. Therefore, since I am not constantly able to do all of those things I doubt my ability to then be able to accomplish God’s ultimate goal for my life. I try as hard as I can, as Paul says, “to be all things to all people” so as to draw them closer to the Lord. But my mind wants that Pauline lesson to be so literal that it starts to overtake my rational reasoning of what actually can and cannot be done. I am learning the hard way that I am human—one man—who can only do so much. Regardless of my cognitive understanding of my own limitations, the doubt not-so-subtly creeps in. A friend of mine always tells me, “If the devil can’t get you to do the wrong thing, he gets you to do too much of the right thing causing the same result.”
And that is the balance that I’m trying to find right now as I move forward in my life’s work—both in my writing as a ministry and my organization. I have only really become aware of, or should I say, been able to put a label on my weaknesses just recently. Therefore I have been intentionally working on them by learning how to set boundaries, and also learning how to say no. Both of those things are extremely hard for me to do. But none the less are the two things in my life right now that will greatly hinder me in building a sustainable life’s work without quickly burning out. And any buring out is not what I’m here to do—or be.