Monday, April 20, 2015

This is one of those God/Last Nerve things I was talking about...

              Whenever I get the opportunity to speak publicly, I usually want to speak about leadership; whether it’s one-on-one or to a group.  I especially enjoy discussing leadership with young people.  It’s something about which I am passionate and when I’m passionate you cannot get me to hush.  When I am talking about leadership, I like to remind my audience, whether captive or voluntary, that the driving purpose and focus of a leader is not to develop followers, but to develop new leaders. 
                I recently started attending a book study at my church.  I no longer call them Bible studies as they are not studies of the Bible.  I was shown the error of my ways by my sweet friend Holly Nugent.  Holly is a six foot ray of sunshine coming at you bedecked in beautiful clothes and an even more beautiful soul; smiling with the light of Jesus, y’all.  And since the book is not the Bible, it shall not be referred to as a Bible Study.  Thank you, Ms. Holly.
                This particular book is about getting to know the God Jesus knows.  And that is someone I have wanted to know for quite some time, but for a litany of reasons, haven’t ever taken the time to meet; even when He was standing there waiting to be met.  If God had a last nerve, right?   In our initial discussion we talked about the definition of disciple (or follower) from the Jewish definition since Jesus was, you know, a Jewish carpenter.  I always want to ensure that as I am learning things I have the proper context to fully grasp and apply this new knowledge.
                As you may know (or not) the first five books of the Bible are the Torah, sometimes referred to as the Books of Moses.  Young Jewish men must memorize these books as part of their religious upbringing.  And I complained about having to memorize a few verses for Bible Drill.  The goal is ultimately to memorize all the scriptures but as they work through the stages, only those who are the best of the best are selected as apprentices, or disciples, of a particular Rabbi.  In order to become a disciple you must have a passion and talent for learning because the driving purpose of a disciple is to learn and use that knowledge to grow more disciples.  The driving purpose of Christians is supposed to be the same: to grow more Christians. 
                And I was immediately ashamed to admit, at first only to myself and then aloud, that I have never pursued my relationship with God as passionately as I have my quest to be a better leader.  This desire to read books and take classes and focus my energies to improve my leadership abilities to help grow the next generation of leaders has propelled my career far beyond anything that I could have imagined when I first started with the VA.  What then, I wonder, could I have achieved in my spiritual life had I given even 50% of that same passion to my discipleship with God?  What would that look like? 
               I cannot imagine but am disappointed in the opportunities that I have let slip by.  I am not a fearless person; I have fears that I find surprising.  One of those fears is completely trusting God because I don’t know what He has planned for me and it scares me a little bit.  I have worked very hard to ensure that I am not on financially shaky ground as I was growing up.  A fear of poverty has kept me working hard and sticking with a business that is not likely to fail. 
               Growing up my sister and I used to say we were okay if we had to be missionaries, just not to Africa or any continent or country where it was hot and we didn’t speak the language.  I guess what we meant was we would be missionaries in America or Western Europe but that’s about it.  Maybe Canada, but definitely not Mexico or South America or Russia (pre or post communism made no difference).  When I was fat I would have agreed to Iceland or Alaska. 
                I’ve always been taught God never gives you more than you can handle, but based on my life, I think God has a different view of what I can handle.  But He has always been right.  Even when I couldn’t see it in the moment, I always see it in reflection.  So why am I hesitant?  I've been told He gives us more than we can handle so we have to turn to Him.  And that makes sense, so why do I worry?
              They say if the source of your security is money, then the source of your anxiety will be money.  Truer words have never been spoken.  Well except for “life would be so much more rewarding and hope-filled if we’d just get out of the way and let God do His thing”. 
              So I’m challenging myself to focus my energies on growing as a Christian and trying to make my relationship with Christ one where I truly feel His presence and understand what’s it’s like to call Him teacher and friend.  Then I can start growing new Christians.  And I’m looking forward to this journey of sitting and listening; not asking but listening so I can hear that still, small voice guiding me.
                And that’s all I’m saying for now because I’ve got some listening to do.  And if you know me, you know that’s gonna be hard, y’all.  I’m so glad that God doesn’t have a first nerve much less a last one.  Amen?


  1. Just the reminder I needed to get the right perspective. Hugs!

  2. The first five books are the Torah; the closest modern equivalent to the Talmud is a commentary.