The past week and a half of my life has been an incredible journey…and not necessarily a comfortable one. It began with a post on this blog: Why I don’t Like Your Church. Upon publishing an article, it usually takes a few days for it to have a few hundred views (if it gets that many). That article hit a few hundred within a couple hours. I was actually pretty surprised that it did because I didn’t think it would interest that many people. I thought that it was something they would see and perhaps gloss over. Within the next day or so, I had some individuals contact me about what I had said. None of it was negative or critical. All of it was quite supportive. People wanted to get together, and I quickly agreed. It was during those conversations and a couple others since then that I’ve come to a stark realization: humble pie tastes terrible.
Let me give a little more context. The post I had written didn’t name any churches but many people knew exactly what church or churches I was referring to. And if you haven’t read the article, please understand that it wasn’t actually about those churches. It was about me. It was about my own personal brokenness and fallenness. It was about my ego, pride, anger, jealousy, and covetousness. Moving on…I was able to have a couple of conversations with people that helped me tremendously. One of them showed me what a true heart of grace, love, and mercy looks like. He showed me genuine humility in his conversation. I greatly needed that example before me. The other sat patiently with me and my frenetic conversational style. We talked about things in his church and its leadership. It was candid and soul-feeding. I especially appreciate how he was patient with me as I would rudely interrupt him constantly to ask a question or make a snarky comment. I don’t know how he didn’t throw his coffee at me. Both of these conversations were things I needed…deeply…more than I realized even while I was having them…
While my article was about the movements/programs/works of churches and how we should realize we are on the same team, what I never really addressed was my judgment of the leaders of these churches. In total honesty, I had judged some among them, and made some very unfounded assumptions about them. Upon having some conversations, I was faced with a truth: I hold others to a standard to which I do not hold myself. And in truth, most of them are doing a much better job in this battle than I. The reality hit me that I had assumptions and conclusions about them based on something very dangerous within my heart and soul…something dark…something hellish…in truth, something satanic…
Jesus said for us to, “Judge not…,” which many within our culture have taken to mean something totally different than it was intended to mean. This statement He made was a Rabbinical figure of speech. It meant to give people the benefit of the doubt. It meant that we shouldn’t assume the worst of others. If they do something that bothers us, we should talk to them about it instead of assuming that it was a step in their evil plan of world domination. I had not practiced this…and as a general rule of thumb, I never do. I am automatically distrustful of other’s intentions. This statement by Jesus has been taken by many as a command to never confront anyone in their sin. That was not it’s meaning. All one must do is keep reading to determine that. No…the meaning of this statement was that we should humbly approach one another as humans that understand what it’s like to be human. It’s about helping each other…getting down off of our high horse…giving them a chance to be wrong while not assuming that their reasons for being wrong are totally self-serving or evil. Sometimes when we need correction, it’s just because we need correction. It’s not always because we have evil intentions in hearts…and we need to approach people like this.
Well…God has an interesting way of doing things. As, I already said, I was contacted by some guys that just wanted to hear more of my heart…the irony of them not judging my intentions before talking to me is overwhelming. During my conversations with them, I became very convicted about my feelings towards my fellow pastors and leaders. All along, I have had myself convinced that my judgments of their actions, attitudes, and methods were righteous. I never truly saw that my feelings for these people were based on my own evil way of looking at things.
Let me now say this to my fellow church leaders: I apologize for the ways in which I’ve treated you. I am deeply sorry for being much less than Christian in my treatment of you.
Here’s where it gets fun…I had had a couple of conversations recently wherein some of these leaders were the main topic. I had gossiped about them and trashed them…and I had done so as if I was the lone prophet calling out the sins of the corrupt religious establishment. I think I really believed that about myself…wow…as I write that…it hurts. What hurt even more…if you’re a prideful, egotistical, narcissistic man like me…was having to go back to those people that you had those trash-talking conversations with and tell them you were wrong. Thank God that I had a busy week and was not able to talk to many people!
This past several days has been quite humbling…and every day brings more of it. Point of clarification here: I’M NOT HUMBLE. I’m not saying that this past week has made me humble. I’m saying that it has had a humbling effect…and unfortunately…there’s a long way to go yet.
We’ve heard the expression about “eating humble pie. Well…let me tell you…it tastes awful for people like me…
I’ve never had anything so very nutritious. I’ve never eaten anything that was so awful going in but had such a strengthening effect. I guess I’m going to have to get used a steady regimen of it in order to grow…sounds like fun. Fun or not…it will be good for me…and all of us…if we’ll cut ourselves a big piece of it…don’t coat it with things to soften its bitterness…and dig in.
*Image taken from: http://www.newsalescoach.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/11/humblepie-e1288647520854.png