Relationships, work, parenting, church life, ministry, short-term goals, aspirations for the future...
What drives my attitudes, the way I interact with others, the decisions I make and the actions I take in each of these areas?
Around the kitchen table this weekend, we were having a conversation about the sometimes bumpy, often drawn out transition from childhood to adulthood. Different folks were commenting on the excitement they felt at certain times, when they realized they had "crossed over" in some significant way.
"Like the first time you are allowed to go back on the farm with a gun by yourself," interjected one young man. "You realize that your parents trust you, and you get this feeling of pride and responsibility. It's kind of a rush!"
I want to be the kind of parent, mentor, friend, co-worker, ministry partner who dares to let others know the excitement of "growing up," of engaging as a respected and valued co-laborer.
As a parent, as a leader at work or in ministry, it is often a very scary thing to "let go" and let others use their gifts and talents and training without having them run through a pre-flight check list with you first. Even when you trust those under you - when you know them intimately and have great confidence in their ability - it is still so very difficult to take your hands off the controls and let them fly.
I have had to ask myself often over the years: Why is it so hard for me to let go and trust others to do what I know they are capable of doing? The newly-licensed driver taking the family van to work, driving solo for the first time ever. Leaving the college student at the boarding gate for her first unaccompanied international flight. The timid sister in Christ, leading her first devotional. The rather inexperienced co-worker, volunteering to organize and oversee the new project at work. These scenarios terrify me!
And then, when I do endeavor to step back and let others use their gifts, when I try very hard to loosen my grasp on the flight controls, I find myself constantly battling the urge to interject how I think things should be done. I want desperately to jump in and micro-manage. (Honestly, I really just want things done MY way - I am so much more comfortable with my way!)
Why is giving up control so dang hard?!!
For me, it seems the issue always comes down to: am I walking in faith? or am I walking in fear? And ultimately, what is it (or who is it) that I am placing my faith in? And of what am I so afraid?
Okay, I admit it - I am afraid my young driver might not be alert enough to other drivers. I am afraid she might get distracted. I am afraid of the carelessness of other drivers on the road. I am afraid the van might break down.
She's a good driver - I know that - and honestly, my problem is not that I don't trust her or her driving. Ultimately, my problem is that I don't trust God. I am afraid that while my young driver is behind the wheel, some situation may arise that is beyond God's foresight or control.
Or letting one of the other writers steer the direction for a new series of articles. I have more experience; I am a better writer; I am more attuned to what our readers like and want. What if Mr. Amateur's idea is a flop? What if we lose readers? What if our editor cancels the series?!
Or asking one of our younger ladies to share her testimony or plan an activity for our moms' group. What if she says something that is not doctrinally spot on with my understanding of Scripture? What if she commits our group to a ministry that not everyone is excited about?
Oh. My. Word.
Like God isn't aware of my young driver; like he doesn't know the other drivers on the road! Like I really know better than God just what will touch the hearts of our readers! Like we can't learn from faulty theology, like God's Word is impotent for adequately and lovingly addressing error!
I admit it: I am a perfectionist. "Perfectionist" is a euphemism for "control freak." Yuck.
Perfectionism is sin. It is thinking I know better than anyone else - including God - what is best. It is thinking I alone am capable of "doing it right". It is thinking that I MUST have control or the whole plane might go down in flames.
Perfectionism is idolatry. It is idolatry of Self. It is thinking other people need to check in with me first, instead of thinking that I need to check in with God. It is getting my feelings hurt when others don't want to do things my way. It is assuming that differing ideas and viewpoints are intentional attacks against me personally. It is taking my ball and going home if everyone doesn't agree to play my game, my way. It is sulking or mouthing off when I don't like the way things are going.
Perfectionism is deadly. It destroys family relationships and work relationships and ministry relationships. It strangles initiative - squeezes the life out of it until it is stone cold dead. It snuffs out creativity, squelches enthusiasm, and smothers joy - both for the perfectionist, and for everyone in a five mile radius. It is taking the filthy rags of my own righteousness and twisting them into a hangman's noose in order to commit the double atrocity of murder-suicide.
God, save me.
Instead of squashing the people around me, Lord, let me be the person who encourages them to take initiative, to dare to try, to dream bold dreams; and let me not be afraid to give others the freedom to fail. Let me be the one to breathe deeply and smile when they try out their wings. Let me be the one to say "Great job!" when they succeed. Let me be the one to say enthusiastically "Good effort!" when they fail, and then encourage them to try again.
Please, Lord, don't let me communicate to the people around me that the only thing good enough is perfection, or my way, or whatever I think perfection is, because that is a lie. That is the Anti-Gospel. It is Ugly Self, not Beautiful Jesus.
Father, show me Jesus.
Reflect Jesus through me to others.
2 days ago