I have a certain opinion on the way things ought to be. Actually, I have a lot of opinions on how a lot of things ought to be. A good friend reminded me recently that my expectations will always compete with my faith and faithfulness. God is continually either beating my expecations or leaving them in the dust. Never in my life has God ever met my expectations.
The Scriptures illustrate this as well. Story after story we find God continually not acting the way people expect Him to. Pick a character from the Scriptures and discover how God either exceeds, thwarts, ignores, or redefines the expectations of believers and non-believers alike.
I went to a funeral on Tuesday. My friend, Josh, lost his father in a motorcycle accident last weekend. I’m sure he expected his father to be at his wedding. I’m sure he expected his father to be excited to be a grandfather some day. None of those are bad expectations to have – they are right and good. However, if Josh clings to those in the face of his tragic reality – he will not be able to keep his faith in the God who didn’t meet his expectations.
The same holds true in my marriage, in my role as a father, in my job, and at my church. If I am unwilling to follow Jesus out of my expectations in any of these areas, I am unwilling to follow Him at all. Ironically, following him out of my expectations is far easier than what I try to do instead.
I live in a world where my expectations are king. I expect to be treated with respect when I check out at the grocery store (or else I’ll take my business elsewhere). I expect to see my daughter get married some day (it would be tragic if I did not). I expect my bosses and elders to not make mistakes (giving me the right to chew them out if they do). I expect people not to be stupid, lazy, or in my way (I yell at them if they are). I expect my dog to obey my voice immediately (or he’ll get a whooping if he doesn’t). I expect my wife to keep the house clean (and take it personally when it’s dirty). Why would I treat God any differently?
Thank you, Lord, for never meeting my expectations and for not treating me the way I expect you to treat me. Were it so, you would not be my God. I would be god and You – my slave.
“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. He who is a hired hand and not a shepherd, who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. He flees because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep.” (John 10:11-13)
Why would anyone want to be a leader? When times are tough Jesus here illustrates that leaders are not to think of their own well-being, but that of their flock. When a wolf is coming, the true shepherd considers his life as worthy to be spent for his sheep. Instead of protecting himself and making sure that his safety is secure, the shepherd-leader of the flock lays down his life for the sheep.
In a turbulent economy where bankruptcy looms large on the horizon for many companies and employees hear rumors of lay-offs and cutbacks – where are the shepherds? Don’t these circumstances have the opportunity to turn us leaders into hirelings without even noticing it? I mean, I have to protect my family, right? Maybe. But that’s the mindset of the hireling and not the shepherd. The Shepherd never abandons his sheep. He lays down his life for them. Does that mean he should lay down his family’s life for them as well?
“Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness.” (James 3:1)
This is an aspect of leadership that isn’t taught and is difficult to learn. I fear I have much more to learn about being a shepherd than I once thought. And….there’s more hireling in me than I would like to admit.
. . . and not just where I work, but also in my marriage and my family.
“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”
I’ve had some time to rest and reflect over the past few days and it has been much needed. Lots weighing on my mind and several decisions to make about the future. In speaking with a friend of mine and in reading the Scriptures, I stumbled upon Luke 10:41-42 once again. It’s the all-too-familiar story of Mary and Martha that I all-too-often dismiss for the “don’t be too busy” passage.
As I read it this past week and considered it, the Lord reminded me that it’s not a just passage about being busy, being a perfectionist or even how to handle self-righteousness. It struck me that another way to consider this passage is to remember that it is about my choice during times of worry and frustration. When things in my life get cranked up, I have the decision where to place myself based on the circumstances.
I must remember that I need to find and remain in that better place that Mary chose. I also need to remember that the place isn’t synonymous with activity. I don’t make the place, I choose the place…and as long as I stay there, I will hear more clearly the voice of my Lord – and, hopefully, be a blessing and example to other Martha’s around me.
So, I’ve always wanted to have a blog and write about stuff and give my opinions on politics, media, books, Christendom, etc. I started this thing up a week ago and I’ve got nothing to say. I still feel the urge to write, however, I lack a proper motivation.
A friend of mine was teaching from John 3 not too long ago and it was the first time in a while that I’ve felt a reason to write about anything at all and a good underlying theme for what this blog will be focused on as I continue to write.
One of his main points came from John 3:27 where John says to his disciples, “A man can receive nothing unless it has been given him from heaven.” My friend went on to illustrate several examples of what we can learn from John’s character – but this one stuck with me the most.
If I want to write, then the only things I can write about are the things which I am receiving from the Lord. It is and will be my hope that the thoughts he gives me will, in turn, point back to him. John also puts the idea like being a best man at a wedding. When was the last time you saw a wedding that was all about the best man? And, yet, who helps the groom look great on his wedding day? What if my discipleship to Jesus was less about bringing attention to myself and more about being a voice crying out in the wilderness, “Prepare ye the way of the Lord!”