Paul’s words in 2 Corinthians 6 and 7 taunt me. I can’t seem to be free of this overwhelming urge to need people’s approval more than the truth. Time and time again, it’s expressed in my “two speed” life: either I’m fawning and drooling and compromising to maintain my status in someone else’s eyes…or (after the shit hits the fan) I’m ready to just cut them off.
I don’t TRULY love. I want people to feel loved so I can get credit. That’s why I avoid the hard conversations when they’re only “a little” hard…it would spoil my pay-off to point out an area that needs change like Paul did. So I wait and wring my hands until it can’t be ignored any longer, and the beloved has crossed some mysterious line into the category of “liability to the Kingdom and to me”, and then I’m justified in cutting my losses.
That’s the truth about me.
I am “PROUD” that I’m part of creating a place where people can strut in, try to shock us with their rebellious attitude, and find they’ve met their match. But that’s only the first half. They must experience transformation too. It’s not enough that they just feel safe…they’ve got to change. And when they don’t…or when they even go backwards…they’re robbing me of my success.
Their “progress” becomes more than the holy desire to see God formed in them, and more than the UN-holy desire to get credit for a “hard case” meeting God through MY ministry, and even more than just enjoying my growing friendship with someone: It becomes co-dependent.
Out of almost nowhere what they think of me begins to matter WAY too much. I begin to lose the ability to objectively correct, discipline, motivate, admonish and even inspire them, because I have to protect the selfish things they have become for me: “Project” and “Judge”. I begin to evaluate and modify my behavior as a leader and even as a person, based on their reaction to things. I APPOINT people as judges in my life. “Here’s your gavel and gown, Judge X…please have a seat with all the other judges I’ve appointed….feel free to say whatever you want to about my “Performance”…but if you don’t want to, that’s o.k….I’ll learn to interpret your facial expressions, your body language and all the other stuff…I’ll just go ahead and modify what I do based on what I THINK you’re thinking…”
I repent of my pride. God, please forgive me. Please forgive me for seeing your children as projects and not people. God, please forgive me for not loving with the truth in love… please forgive me for using people, and letting them flounder when I might have been able to save them some grief.