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Posts Tagged ‘pride’

Key to Leadership

How many Christian leaders do you know that are actually embarrassed to rely on the world to help them?  Ezra was that kind of guy.  Ezra chapter 8 gives us a look at some real godly leadership.

Ezra had just been given literally everything he needed from the king himself.  He was given peace, men, authority, money and goods, tax exemption, and full trust to teach and to judge among the men he was going to serve.  The king had given all this to Ezra and sent him off to his home in Jerusalem after many years of exile in a foreign country.  Ezra had witnessed about His about how great, mighty, powerful, and able His God was to the king and all his men.  When Ezra sets out to leave, what he does and does not do is worth noting and meditating upon.  Let’s consider Ezra’s initial actions as leader of God’s people.

First, Ezra gathered all the men he had with him and figured out who was there.  He recognized that some men, the Levites, were missing so he sent for them and they came.  Once all the men he needed were present, the very first thing he did was call a fast.

“Then I proclaimed a fast there, at the river Ahava, that we might humble ourselves before our God, to seek from him a safe journey for ourselves, our children, and all our goods. 22 For I was ashamed to ask the king for a band of soldiers and horsemen to protect us against the enemy on our way, since we had told the king, ‘The hand of our God is for good on all who seek him, and the power of his wrath is against all who forsake him.”  So we fasted and implored our God for this, and he listened to our entreaty.” ~Ezra 8:21-24

Responsible men must rely on God, not self.  At first glance Ezra’s refusal to ask the king for soldiers and horses for protection on this journey may seem prideful or even foolish.  But, given the context, we can see that at the very root of Ezra’s intent is a great faith in God’s providence and humility about himself.

Think about it.  The men travelling with Ezra are strong, equipped, leading, able-bodied men with authority over others.  They are heads of their fathers’ households.  One would think these guys could hold their own.  Still, they are not so foolish to think for one moment that they can get themselves and everyone else where they need to go without God.  Self-sufficiency is of Satan because nothing is more offensive to God than pride.  These guys know better.  They have been humbled by their time in exile.  They understand that God wants us to come to him, to rely on him, and to humble ourselves before we do anything – but especially when we have responsibility over other people and are embarking on a new and difficult task.  Notice what Ezra’s fast is for in verse 21.

Firstly, the fast to a way of humbling themselves.  When we know God, we will know ourselves and our ever-present tendencies to be prideful and foolish.  Because Ezra knows God, he knows his need to humble himself  before God and put away any pride he may have over his newfound leadership roles.

Next, the fast was called to implore God for safety and protection for the leaders themselves, the children under their care, and the good they were carrying with them.

I pray for people all the time in the hospital.  Many times, what I find, especially with men but women as well, is that they will ask me to pray for everyone except themselves – when they, in fact, are presently in a position where they are the ones who need prayer the very most!  They will tell me that they never ask God for anything for themselves.  At first, this practice may seem unselfish, but when we line it up with scripture we find that it is not only unwise but it is also rooted in pride.  I bring it up because here we find just the opposite.  Ezra and his leading men call a fast to pray for their own protection before anyone else’s.  They aren’t so arrogant as to think they don’t need anything from God like everyone else under them does.  They know that if they are killed or captured on the way home that it will leave all who depend on them unprotected as well.  They pray and fast for themselves and their own safety knowing they need God just as much as their children do.

They also pray and fast for their children.  A good leader will think of all who are under his care and be responsible about their spiritual, physical, and emotional protection as much as he is his own.  Responsible men do not leave those whom God has entrusted to them to fend for themselves.  They sacrificially fast and pray for those who are weaker and strengthen others through prayer and intercession.

Lastly, Ezra and his men pray for protection for their material items.  They have been entrusted with a great amount of gold, silver, wheat, wine, oil, salt, etc.  They have been given much, much wealth and provision by the king and king’s treasury.  To not pray for protection of their goods during this journey would be to treat them as unimportant.  These were the very things they would need in order to accomplish their purposes in Jerusalem.  These were the very blessings of God given for their success in carrying out the will of God in the temple and among his people.  God wants to be included in our handling of the material things he so generously gives to us.  It all belongs to him.  We are just using these things on his behalf and in order to be good stewards, we must pray his blessing and protection over all that which he entrusts to our care.

Now, notice what Ezra says next.  This is the crux of the entire passage.

22 For I was ashamed to ask the king for a band of soldiers and horsemen to protect us against the enemy on our way, since we had told the king, ‘The hand of our God is for good on all who seek him, and the power of his wrath is against all who forsake him.”  So we fasted and implored our God for this, and he listened to our entreaty.” ~Ezra 8:22-24

The reason Ezra called the fast and refused to ask for soldiers and horsemen is because he was ashamed to ask for worldly help after he had testified to the greatness and power of his God.

When is the last time you were embarrassed to ask for help that came from anyone or anything besides God?  Consider this…Ezra had favor with the king.  He could have asked for literally anything and been acquiesced.  Soldiers and horsemen were not an unreasonable request for this dangerous journey.  Many might even argue that he needed them.  But Ezra cares about one thing that is evidently much more important than his own comfort and ease and that is God’s glory.  GOD’S glory. God’s GLORY.  God’s glory matters immensely to learned little scribe Ezra.  Ezra cares so greatly for God’s good name that he absolutely refuses to allow anyone to think God needs any human king or kingdom to assist him.  King Artaxerxes may have been the most generous and gracious king Ezra had ever met, but he wasn’t getting God’s glory.  God would get his glory and he would do it by disallowing Ezra to accept worldly protection.  No one was going to be able to say King Artaxerxes led the Jews to Jerusalem out of exile.  Only God could do that.  And do it he did.

We find from the conclusion of the chapter that, “The hand of our God was on us, and he delivered us from the hand of the enemy and from ambushes by the way…” (Ezra 8:31)

When given a responsibility or leadership, prove faithful.  Pray first, before you set out.  Fast for yourself, all those under you, and your goods.  We cannot accomplish anything apart from God.  We cannot do this life alone and we cannot save ourselves.  Christ is the only one who can lead us out of the captivity and exile of sin and lead us home, and he will be the only one who gets the glory for our salvation.  Never be ashamed to need God.  Be ashamed NOT to trust him.  Amen!

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rebuild
The work the Lord burdened Nehemiah to accomplish finally begins in Nehemiah chapter 3.  There are quite a few things to note in how this work was carried out and by whom.  Let’s consider how the people of God began to rebuild their gates and walls as a unified community that we might glean some wisdom and insight for our own undertakings within our own communities.

Beginning in Nehemiah 3:1, we find the high priest and all the priests next to him begin the work.  Here, we have a picture of how godly men should lead.  Godly men ought to always lead by their good example.  When their is work to be done, ministers may indeed delegate it, but they must always also be willing to participate in it.  Far too many spiritual leaders today want to lead with their positions and power plays rather than by example.  A good leader will always do just that…literally lead in any profitable undertaking with his own two hands.

Secondly, we find that many men and women from neighboring communities came to help rebuild Jerusalem.  We find the people of Jericho, Gibeon and Mizpah, Zanoah, Beth-hacecerem, Beth-zur, and Keilah all coming together to help this effort.  Surely we should help those close to our community when they are in need in addition to serving our own.

In verse 12 we find a family helping.  Notice, too, that this was a father and his daughters.  Here was a man who was part ruler of Jerusalem coming, helping, and bringing his girls to help.  Not only did he not think himself above the effort because of his high position, he brings his whole family… of girls!  What a great picture of inclusion and unanimity among the builders of this wall.  Many a man with daughters and not sons may keep his girls from getting dirty and feel awkward to bring them along, but here we see just the opposite in God’s perfect Word.

Notice who else we find building in verses 8 and 32: the goldsmiths, the apothecaries, and the merchants.  These were the business owners; the blue collar men who made everything for everyone else to buy and use.  These guys didn’t use their businesses as an excuse not to show up.  They closed their shops or they went after hours to help this work get done because they considered it more important than making money or being open every single day of the year.  If shop owners can commit to the common good in their trade, they can commit to the common good as God commands outside of their trades as well.

Next, we find men working on this building project opposite their own houses.  How about that!  How many people do you know that would forfeit their time and money to work next door while they look across the street at all that needs done at home?  This is quite a testimony of the character and faithfulness these people had to accomplish God’s work first and their own needs second.

Finally, in verse 5, we find that not everyone was on board.  There was one particular group singled out as not being willing to serve their Lord.  The nobles of the Tekoites “would not stoop to serve their Lord.”  Here, the nobles were not noble, but full of pride which led only to disgrace for them and their name.  The reproach of being named here is shameful and it goes to prove how when we refuse to work with others in unity and harmony out of nothing more than sheer pride and arrogance we will be disgraced publicly for our stubborn selfishness…and rightly so!    Let that never be said of us!  If we cannot humble ourselves to serve God, we will never humble ourselves to serve anyone else.  Every good thing we do will always be self-serving thus rendering it purposeless and void of any wholesome “good.”

There will always be those who will refuse to do right even when everyone around them is working together toward a common goal.  There will always be dissenters and dividers among the true people of God.  But, by and large, when the people of God work together in love and obedience to Him, the work gets done, God is glorified, and we are blessed.  As Matthew Henry says, “If everyone will sweep before his own door, the street will be clean; if every one will mend one, we shall be all mended.”  

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adultery

The seventh commandment that God gives to Moses on Mt. Sinai concerns purity and chastity within marriage.

Adultery is generally defined as a married man or woman being sexually unfaithful to their spouse.  So, infidelity.  Jesus, however, defines adultery with more detail.  He says that unfaithfulness is found even in adulterous thoughts and gazes.

 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ 28 But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart. 29 If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell. 30 And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body go into hell. ~Matthew 5:27-30

Jesus knows our hearts.  He knows what is in a man (and a woman).  He knows how easily we are enticed and entangled in sin.  Jesus knows that thoughts often lead to actions and small errors often lead to big problems.  Jesus cares enough about us and our purity to tell us the truth.

Flirting with adulterous thoughts, flirting with anyone other than our spouses, and flirting with temptation on any level in word, thought, or deed is more than enough reason to be alarmed, take heed, and repent.  These seemingly “smaller” offenses are – according to Jesus – not small.

To look is to commit adultery.  To lust is to commit adultery.

If we consider the other offenses that we commit in this kind of sin, it is not hard to see why the seeds of adultery are so important to both understand and avoid at all costs.  Jesus’ advice is to pluck out our eye or cut of our hand!  It is that dangerous.  It is that important to avoid.

When we cheat on our spouse, we steal.  We lie.  We covet.  We worship another in place of God – ourselves and our forbidden partner.  We dishonor our parents.  We break almost every commandment God set before us when we sin in this way.  Men and women in the Old Testament were stoned to death for this.

“If a man commits adultery with the wife of his neighbor, both the adulterer and the adulteress shall surely be put to death. ~ Leviticus 20:10

Death!  The penalty was death for both the man and the woman.  Now, the Pharisees tried to make it as though only the woman should be stoned but Jesus – what did he do?

but Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. Early in the morning he came again to the temple. All the people came to him, and he sat down and taught them. The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery, and placing her in the midst they said to him, “Teacher, this woman has been caught in the act of adultery. Now in the Law, Moses commanded us to stone such women. So what do you say?” This they said to test him, that they might have some charge to bring against him. Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground. And as they continued to ask him, he stood up and said to them, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.” And once more he bent down and wrote on the ground.But when they heard it, they went away one by one, beginning with the older ones, and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him. 10 Jesus stood up and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” 11 She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more.” ~John 8:1-11

We also have his example of the Samaritan woman, also known as the woman at the well, who had five husbands in John 4.  How did Jesus treat these women?  Or should I say, these kind of women?

In the first case he stood up to the bullies who hated her by stooping down in a public proclamation of his alliance with the sinner. In the second case he went the way everyone else always avoided and talked with a woman – a loose woman to boot – when it was taboo in order to teach her the truth and – get this – use her to save a whole town by her testimony!  Amazing!

Why?

Jesus knows that we are guilty of breaking this command.  The level of severity is the only difference between men.  Therefore, he does what God always does.  He gives grace to the humble and opposes the proud.  That’s why we see him siding with the adulterous women and making a point to go to the people and places others intentionally and painstakingly avoided out of superiority, pride, and religious condescension.

Yesterday my husband and I were talking about temptation.  We have both done our share of failing in this area.  Temptation is never going to go away until we die.  We talked about the verse in 1 Corinthians 10 about being careful when things seem calm and when we feel less tempted.  That’s when the enemy strikes.  But today the verse of the day on my Bible app was the following verse so I’ll just read them both.

Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall. 13 No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it. ~1 Corinthians 10:12-13

You know what this means?  It means God is faithful.  You can trust him!  Even though we will be tempted to look, to lust, to think impure thoughts, to flirt, to act scandalously – we will also be given a way out.  Every.  Single.  Time.  The way will not be some religious pretense that shuns and avoids “sinners” in order to look pious and holy on the outside and impress our religious friends.  The way will be grace for us and for the other sinners he allows in close proximity to us.

We need to get that.  We need to get it deep down in our hearts.  Jesus does not shun and avoid sinners out of pride, pretense, preference, superiority, or self-preservation EVER.  Jesus goes to them purposefully and offers grace to the humble.  It is those who think themselves too high and holy to even be in the same town with “sinners” that he deals harshly with.

So, don’t commit adultery in thought, word, or deed.  Use the escape routes God is faithful to provide when tempted.  But don’t put on a religious show just to make others think you’re not guilty of this sin.  Confess it.  Don’t hide and pretend.  We are all guilty.  There is grace for the repentant and humble in heart.

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brat

My one year-old has begun to learn how to test her limits.  As she turns quickly into a full-fledged, card-carrying toddler, she has decided she wants to see just how much she can get away with and just how far she can go without suffering punishment or unfavorable consequences.

All babies do this.  All toddlers, children, and teenagers do this.  Young adults do this.  Even elderly people do this and many do it for the duration of their lives in relation to God.  It is not usually a good sign, but it can be a good indication of where a person is in maturity.

“Sonny, no, no!” I say firmly as she pulls my earring.

We’ve had this interaction before, many times.  I have taken out my earrings and showed her.  I have given language lessons on how to pronounce the word, “ear-ring.”  I have emphatically told her with as much clarity as humanly possible the word, “NO” on many occasions when her little fingers have purposely found these friends who take up residence in my ears.  Still, there is just something irresistible about giving a good yank and feeling the success and satisfaction of holding the shiny piece of metal in her tiny hand once she’s pulled it completely out of my ear.

Yesterday was no different.  All was well in the world of baby blanket peek-a-boo and near naptime nummies until Sonny saw the silver booty sparkling like a new stairwell to climb.  The promise of victory was simply too tempting.  How could she be expected to obey?

She pulled down and I, once again, calmly, but sternly, corrected.

“No, no, Sonny!  That is ouchy.”

She waited.  She played more blanket-boo.  Then, she decided she would see if anything bad really would happen if she deliberately disobeyed again.

This time she pulled much harder and it really was ouchy.  After my yelp of pain, I smacked her fingers and said, “No, no, Sonny!  That is bad!”

At that, she buried her face in the pillow.  She did not cry.  She hid.  She knew what she had done.  She knew better.  She was either ashamed or she was upset that she’d not gotten away with it this time.  She was embarrassed that she’d been harshly corrected because harsh correction, though sometimes very necessary, is never pleasant.  Nevertheless, when injury to another or potential injury to another or self is imminent and one has been repeatedly told and corrected calmly, there is no choice but to correct in a more severe way.  The goal is caution.  The purpose is to arrest repeated bad behavior lest it cause more severe injury and more severe punishment.

No one particularly likes to discipline their children.  It is not pleasant because the love we have for them causes us pain when they are hurt or upset, too.  Yet, we must be faithful to correct disobedience in order to protect and save them from future harm.

It is one thing when we correct our children.  It is quite another when someone else corrects them.

If I do not do my job in properly training, correcting, and disciplining my children – sometimes even if I do – others will find it necessary – other parents, other teachers, other law enforcement agents eventually.  If it is not pleasant for me to do so, consider how unpleasant it will be for me when someone else does it.  Now, not only is my child suffering for disobedience, I am as well, and both of us at the correction of a stranger.

We have all seen it.  A mother or a father pays no mind to the poor behavior of his or her child and then someone comes along and corrects that child for causing injury or chaos on the playground.  This is an unusually awkward situation.  Little Susie (AKA Captain Destructo) is under parental jurisdiction but the parent is AWOL.  It leaves no choice for the more mature and attentive parents in the vicinity of Captain Destructo Susie to step up and intervene before (or after!) their children become hurt or victimized by her bad behavior.

Often, this results in Susie’s parent becoming angry.  The reason Suzie’s parent is mad is the issue of pride.  They did not do their job so someone else had to.  They either thought Susie more valuable and important than all the other children she was hurting or they thought themselves more important than even their own child.  It is likely a little – or a lot – of both.  These things were proven true by their choosing to ignore her bad behavior and selfishly avoid conflict with the child and also failing to take personal responsibility for the correction and discipline of their own family member.

A humble parent, on the other hand, will be thankful and appreciative when their child is corrected by another concerned authority.  The reason is because we know that obedience to authority is protection for our beloved children and a training ground for God’s authority in their lives.  This is doubtless the reason the Word of God instructs us – His children – to exhort one another daily.  Daily!  Every.  Single.  Day.

Consider that next time someone exhorts you or a member of your family for pulling down and pain-making in someone else’s life.  It is not just children who need corrected.  It is not just children who repeatedly test limits, hurt others, and fail to listen to repeated warnings.  There is a time for alarm, caution, and increasing corrective severity when important warnings are not heeded.

Pride is angry when corrected.  Humility is thankful.

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responsibility

Five days of provision had gone by.  The manna fell faithfully as God’s people continued to rebel.  Moses was mad over their stubbornness, disobedience, and unbelief.

When the sixth day came, they gathered twice as much manna.  Apparently, they had some knowledge at this time about a Sabbath rest – even before the law was given or Moses had specifically instructed them.  It wasn’t until after they had gathered twice as much bread on the sixth day that Moses gave the formal instructions on what to do on the sixth and seventh days.

“This is what the Lord has commanded: ‘Tomorrow is a day of solemn rest, a holy Sabbath to the Lord; bake what you will bake and boil what you will boil, and all that is left over lay aside to be kept till the morning.’” ~Exodus 16:23

Do you think these people listened?  Do these people ever listen?  No.  They wanted more.  More, more, more, more, more!  God was literally raining food down upon them every single day.  Are they happy?  No.  They are faithless.  They disobey in an effort to control.  They want more than God is giving.  In their pride, they usurp God in their efforts to store up and provide for themselves.  It is outrageous.

Do you want to know what is even more outrageous?  What is even more outrageous is who God blames for it.

 And the Lord said to Moses, “How long will you refuse to keep my commandments and my laws?…” ~Exodus 16:28

The Lord indicts Moses.  MOSES!!!

Moses was not disobeying.  Moses wasn’t rebelling or failing to believe and trust God.  Moses was doing everything he could to minister to these rebels.  Moses was speaking the very words of God and praying in faith that they would believe and obey.  How in the world does Moses get the blame?!

“Why did he say this to Moses?  He was not disobedient.  No, but he was the ruler of a disobedient people, and God charges it upon him that he might the more warmly charge it upon them, and might take care that their disobedience should not be through any neglect or default of his.” ~Matthew Henry

Moses was the leader of a disobedient people.  The responsibility is great when you are a leader in any capacity.  When you are a leader of an expressly disobedient and rebellious clan, the responsibility is greater still.  God is not in the business of overlooking sin without first having that thing examined carefully.  He brings correction and calls the guilty to account.  Judgement begins at the house of the Lord and God’s discipline works from the top, down, always.  The reason is because God is just and he will not have the unjust ruling in his stead.  If you want to lead God’s people, you best be prepared, not only to examine yourself, but to be thoroughly examined yourself.

It is interesting that we never see Moses arguing with God in this passage.  There is no mention of Moses’ innocence.  Moses never says, “Wait a minute, Lord, didn’t you see me resting?  Didn’t you see me trusting?  Didn’t you see me angry at the disobedience taking place in front of me?  Aren’t we homies?  Haven’t I obeyed?  What’s the deal?”

Perhaps the reason Moses never states his case is because he understands that a lack of clear and fitting correction when those closest to as well as underneath his jurisdiction were blatantly disobedient to God, that it was just as much his fault and responsibility to act; to speak; to correct; to admonish and he had not done so.

I don’t know.  What I do know is that if I were Moses and I felt completely and altogether innocent, I would have at least said so.  Moses never does.  Maybe that’s why he is often remembered as such an angry man.  Just sayin’.

Moses was, by all appearances, innocent in this instance, but God indicted him.  The seriousness of sin in those directly related to and in close communion with a leader of God’s people is very great.  For this reason, judgement falls first on the leader – despite his innocence – for a matter of principle established by God.  God did as much to his own son.  If a man would seek to bring salvation to a disobedient and rebellious people on behalf of God, he must both understand and accept the principle of owning blame that belongs not to himself.  This is the example we see here in Exodus 16:28.  This is the example of Our Lord Jesus Christ.

Would you take the place of the guilty?  Your Savior did.  While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

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humbleroots

“Here, in the middle of arguably the greatest sermon ever, Jesus talks about our daily worries, whatever they may be.  He talks about how we stress over food and clothing and how we obsess over our physical bodies.  At the same time, He doesn’t shame us for worrying about them.  He doesn’t tell us to just be grateful, to remember how much better we have it than other people.  He doesn’t tell us that we simply need to be more productive or to work harder.  Instead, He asks us whether our worry is actually accomplishing anything.” ~Hannah Anderson

Humble Roots is a book I found very personal, relatable, and real. Hannah uses a down to earth approach that kept me from wiggling out from under necessary confrontation by way of heady theology or intellectual disconnect. This book stopped me dead in my self-sufficient tracks, showed me that my britches are often far too big, and turned me back toward God before I even had a chance to argue with myself.

As I read Hannah’s stories of sowing, reaping, and harvesting I returned to my own bramble bushes of success, failure, blackberries, and tomatoes. Her everyday examples and honest transparency churned up the rocky and hard places in my heart by showing me a crystal clear picture of myself. As I read, I could feel my inconsistencies being challenged and corrected from the inside out. I felt her words changing me even before I was able to put my pride-soaked finger on why or how it happened. Humble Roots is truly a book I hope everyone I know has a chance to read.  If you plan to pick up this book, prepare to grow.

“And here is how humility brings rest to our internal life: Humility teaches us that ‘God is greater than our heart.’  Humility teaches us that we don’t have to obey our emotions because the only version of reality that matters is God’s.” ~Hannah Anderson

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eggs

I heard part of a sermon on marriage yesterday and something the man said, well, as my oldest daughter would say, “punched me in the face.” The preacher said, “Marriage provides the security to deny independence.”

As I drove on, I heard the concept of self-sufficiency come up three more times in different ways and I really felt that the Lord was pressing this idea upon my heart.

All I could think of was our culture’s obsession with individualism and independence.  Beyonce made a song about it a decade ago and I still cringe every time I hear it.  The message?  I do not need you, man.  I do not need anyone.  I can get it all on my own and I prefer to be that way.  Independence is power and I need nothing else.  Self-sufficiency and independence are not only idols, but gods of the majority in our culture today.

But what is the alternative?

Dependence.  Needing others.  Needing help.  Trusting another person with the deep things as well as the daily.  From finances to feelings, many marriages fall by bowing to the god of independence.  Dependence is not popular, at least not here in pull yourself up by your bootstraps, independent America.

It got me to thinking about not only my own marriage, but the fact that Christ chose the church to be his bride.  He chose marriage as the symbol of his relationship towards his people.  Dependence is a huge part of being a Christian.  Oops. There I go again saying things no one wants to hear.  The truth is that no one can be saved apart from total dependence on the work of Christ.  No one can live in line with the gospel apart from dependence on Christ.

I have two examples stirring in my mind to illustrate these realities: the insecure wife and the overprotective mom.

The Insecure Wife

I have never been a particularly good cook.  I’m not as bad as I used to be but, well, ok I suck at cooking for the most part.  I remember early in our marriage, my husband would often stop at his mom’s house to eat on the way home from work.  One could hardly blame him, and a lot of it was just part of transitioning from being a 19 year old at home to a 19 year old in his own home, but as a new wife it was very discouraging.  Often I would avoid cooking altogether because I did not want to risk rejection over it again.

As time went on and when I did cook, he would come into the kitchen and offer “suggestions.”  I am not sure if that was more or less worse than just not showing up, but it did not make for happy meals.  I would not take his advice because I was proud.  I would not take his advice because I was insecure.  Instead, I would get mad feeling like a failure and wondering why he just could not see my effort.

Now, when he walks into the kitchen and offers help, I pinch myself to see if I am dreaming.  I am grateful and welcoming his help.  I delegate as much as possible when my husband comes in to give me assistance.  When I place a meal in front of him – even if it is sub-par, he compliments and thanks me.

What changed?

The maturity level changed.  We stopped clinging to the independence and selfish rights we believed we had.  His suggestions transformed from condescension to servant-hood.  My focus changed from duty, obligation, and approval to how I can best please the one I love.

My error with cooking was one of inexperience, insecurity, and ignorance.  There is another way to err on the opposite side of this coin, though.  It is realized in trusting in self as well.  Have you ever seen a helicopter mom?

The Helicopter Mom

This is the overprotective mom who does absolutely everything for her (often only) child.  The child does not fail because mom never allows him to get that far on his own.  She does literally everything in order to “protect” him and create a facade of having a responsible child or, even, husband.

When a woman does this in her family, she frustrates and cripples her children.  She disrespects and emasculates her husband.  When she does this at work or in the church, she exacerbates those around her and they give up trying to contribute.  This woman does not understand that responsibility must be given in order to be learned.

There are many people who never get to maturity regarding dependence.  Both in marriage and in the church, we often get stuck in the “I need help but do not want it” martyrdom camp because of pride or insecurity or both.  We fail to realize that dependence is paramount.  It is never a matter of needing help vs. being able to do things individually as much as it is a matter of reflecting our dependence and need for Christ by recognizing our dependence and need for other people.  It is a rejection of the idol of self-sufficiency and an acceptance of a faith which requires humility.  Humility hears suggestions as help rather than hate or hurt.  This is counter-cultural.  No one is teaching their daughters to depend on a man these days – and perhaps for good reason.  No one is teaching women how to let their children fail for the greater good of learning responsibility anymore.  But the church must not forsake the practice of interdependence and learned responsibility based on cultural norms.

Maturity is often rooted in dependence.  The world will tell you just the opposite.  Dependence is often rooted in maturity.  The world will tell you just the opposite.  When we throw away the idols of insecurity, pride, approval, individualism, and self-centered thinking, our families – both church and home – will thrive.

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