Posts Tagged ‘discipleship’

Dealing with people is a rough business.  There are some people… who just make you think terrible things.  There are some people who draw irritation to the surface like a mosquito.  The thing is, when the mosquito leaves, who is really the one suffering?

Of course that is unless you squash it flat and wipe it off on your jeans.

But let’s just say that killing everything that irritates you isn’t a reasonable option.  Let’s just say that.

Some days, when I’m “teaching” my oldest son, I think sometimes that he says things wrong, does things wrong, and in general makes an extremely compelling case for specialized training requirements for the educators of our children, JUST for the sake of irritating me.  Or being difficult because he doesn’t really FEEL like doing the work.

Or, in some cases, he’s honestly tired- writing random letters down repeatedly, and coloring stuff and cutting it out can be VERY draining after all.  So maybe he just needs a little encouragement.

For a long time I was just fine alienating as many people as I felt necessary.  It was easier than being alienated by them, and you got to work on zingers and one-liners all day and night.  And the few people who weren’t alienated by your alienation techniques could be very gratifying.  And it made me feel “good.”  It was a false prop.  A crutch- it was the closest I could come to confidence.  If I’m honest with myself, I’m probably still leaning a little to heavily on it.  It’s not the kind of thing you want to put all your weight on.

As I began to grow deeper into understanding who Jesus is- and who he calls us each to be, that began to become a thorn- an irritation.  I was able, for a long time, to just change the address on my cynicism and mean-spirit.  I could be a “better” Christian, a more informed Christian, a deeper thinker, and a person willing to be openly, “authentically” critical of the Church, or her parts- her members.  Instead of just flat out busting people’s chops, I was (er, am?) righteously indignant- a self-anointed prophet.

Not so good.  And I’ll tell ya something I’ve picked up along the way as a homeschool-teacher to a kindergardner/1st grader:  You have to encourage them, even when they’re being totally obtuse and block-headed.

And I realize now that this is not unique to children, either.

Over the past three years, God has challenged me to start acting more like a leader, rather than just imagining myself as one.  The teachers He has put in my path have all shown a remarkable similar mindset that being a leader doesn’t mean being the quickest, the brightest, the most talented, or the most innovative.  It doesn’t even really mean that your brave or bold.  The leader is somebody who chooses to invest in somebody else- somebody besides themselves.  Whoa.

People need truth.  And when they’re wrong- for whatever reason, whether ignorance, misguided mentors, whatever- they need correction.  Failing to correct and instruct is an endorsement of the mistake.  It’s saying what’s “wrong” is “right.”  But you can’t really shine a light on the dark corners if you haven’t gotten your foot in the door.

I’m not talking flattery.  I’m saying root yourself in that person’s life.  Tell him how beautiful this part of his life is to God.  How God has gifted him- whether he is generous, easy to talk with, hospitable, super-smart.  Loving.  Simple?  Sincere?  These are all evidences of God’s mercy and of God’s own investment in him.

His lowercase “r” ‘s just looked bad.  They looked more like script “w” ‘s than they did printed “r” ‘s.  But the “z” ‘s were almost perfect.  And by recognizing his natural ability in crafting lowercase “z” ‘s he happily took correction on his “r” ‘s and his “k” ‘s.  And he didn’t act as though I had diminished him as a person.  He acted like he and I were locked together in the effort to create the perfect “r.”  And the perfect “k.”

If God so loved the whole world that He sent His only Son to buy us back from the grave we had dug ourselves, certainly there is some portion of each person ever born that He delights in.  Or would, should we come to him for the cleansing we require.  That means that every life you run into is meant for God.  Every life I come in touch with needs God.  And I have the ability to give Him the all of those people.  With a genuine word, born of generosity, honed with careful criticism, and delivered with tenderness and sincerity.

Someday, I hope that people will say of me that I saw something in them that no one else did.  Something great.  Maybe they’ll say if it weren’t for that something, I couldn’t write.  Not one letter.