. . . of course, he was only joking and really did love his “sheep.” But during a moment of vulnerable frustration he was reflecting on the real life we live within communities that are made up of people. And “pastoring” in this case could be easily replaced by “managing, parenting, administrating,” all respective engagements if not for people-sourced glitches. From whence do most of our problems come? People. [A more honest answer could be "ourselves," but that's another topic for another blog.]
If not for other people, we’d rarely experience anger or bitterness, or struggle with impatience, frustration or disappointment. Hurts that linger from our pasts and break to the surface during moments of regretful reactions–those were caused by people. And if we’re honest, we realize we ourselves have also been instigators of hurt–knowingly or unknowingly.
What’s supposed to happen when people hurt us? We know our first response should be to listen to God’s wisdom. Depending on the gravity of the circumstance, that could mean a brief moment of inner silence that connects us to His attitude, or several days of fasting, prayer and Bible study to hear His breakthrough and direction. The only true pathway to victory is to walk in obedience to His wisdom no matter what the sacrifice. (He may call us to forgive, to speak truth in love, to remain silent, to choose to lose, to stand firm, to lay down pride, you know the rest of the list.)
What results from our obedience? We grow in the Lord. Many times the “other people” also grow in Him, because Jesus’ wisdom always emenates toward others. Irritating situations challenge us to deny ourselves and obey Him; to overcome our old natures and grow spiritually. Is it appropriate to say, then, that much of our spiritual growth occurs because our community relationships spur us to growth?
As humans we’ve developed mechanisms to protect ourselves from others and the problems/hurts they cause, mechanisms like aggressive control, isolationism, passivity, workaholism, individualism, etc. These walls can protect us from hurt, but also separate us from the nurture and spiritual growth we experience within community. We build walls that separate us, some we let go, others we cling to, but they always hinder our leadership potential, because they block the flow of God’s love, truth and freedom from us to others, and from others to us.
Jesus remained vulnerable within His community. There were those who nurtured and provided for Him, but also many who hurt Him, abused, misunderstood, falsely accused and hated Him. But Jesus didn’t put up walls. He remained in His community, connected to His Father’s attitude and obeying His will. Through it all He gained success as the ultimate fruitful, victorious leader. He never asks us to do anything for which He hasn’t already blazed the trail for us.
Lord, I expose my heart to You’re light. Show me any walls I’ve built that separate me from relationships within my community. What are the roots of those walls? Show me how to deal with that hurt or bitterness, and how to break the walls down. Heal me and my relationships so I can respond to others in a way that reflects Your wisdom, truth, and love. Help Me live and grow within my community as You have designed.
- Ephesians 1-6; I Corinthians 12; II Corinthians 1:2; Hebrews 2:-11; 12:14-15
- Patty Tillman