Tuesday, April 10, 2012

The hard conversations

Have you ever had to confront the past in order to move forward? It can be scary.

I had two difficult conversations this week. Both brought up memories of failure and uncompleted tasks. However, I laid to rest my obligations to be honest about the past with leaders. Thankfully, now it's time to move on.

When we fail, watch a collapse or dissolution despite our hard efforts, get fired from a job, or are prevented from fully using our gifts at work or church, we feel frustrated. Afraid. We may be hurt or disappointed. Grief may overwhelm us when we touch the wounded place.

But slapping a bandage on instead of doing a biopsy may allow the cancer to embitter us against future effectiveness.

Each experience of success or defeat can be a lesson. Wiping the brow and walking away with, "Oh well, glad that's over. Let's move on," doesn't help us. Without a careful examination of the failure, we are no wiser. We remain vulnerable to similar mistakes and blind to our own gifts and weaknesses.

Some of us make assumptions about our strengths. We're not as good at some things as we thought, and a wipe-out shows us that a different ministry or job would be a better fit. Or we're too aggressive in a gifting, overwhelming others and defeating teamwork. We ignore the choppy waves in our wake or blame others.

Some of us make assumptions about our weaknesses. We assume responsibility for failure when someone else may have blocked us from using our gifts. We fear that we are not enough to fulfill God's purposes.

And we're too afraid to ask others to confront us and hold us accountable for failures and successes.

Hey, here's good news. God likes you. He likes me. He actually made us as we are so that we can carry out his own plans. When we fall flat, we must ask others to help us scrutinize what happened. People of integrity are not ashamed to tell the truth about my part in failure ... or yours. I love friends who will honestly point our weaknesses as well as praise and nurture strengths.

Once we know about where we've come from, we can jump into the future with confidence and the release of the past. God's forgiveness and the accumulation of wisdom makes it possible.

What hard conversations do you have to have with yourself and others before you are released into full bloom in the future?

Read more:
*Can mortals be righteous before God? Can human beings be pure before
their Maker? Job 4:17

*The teaching of your word gives light, so even the simple can understand." Psalm 119:130

*The LORD is righteous in all his ways and loving toward all he has made. The LORD is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth. He fulfills the desires of those who fear him; he hears their cry and saves them. The LORD watches over all who love him, but all the wicked he will destroy. My mouth will speak in praise of the LORD. Let every creature praise his holy name for ever and ever. Psalm 145:17-21 NIV

*Jesus Christ gave himself for us that he might redeem us from all iniquity and purify for himself a people of his own who are zealous for good deeds. Titus 2:14

Moravian Prayer: Gracious Savior, refresh and purify our hearts and minds to lead us to service in your name. Remind us gently that humility, not hubris is the path to serving you. In Jesus' name, Amen.

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