It feels good to grow, to positively change, to learn by way of faux paus.
Case in point: A decade ago, I remember being an absolute nervous wreck every single week leading up to the sermon that was to be given.
All it takes is one armchair quarterback-cynic who wasn’t hugged as a little boy or girl (whose incapable of being pleased) to start showing you their daily list of 101 reasons why everything you do is wrong and how you could never possibly measure up to their impossible expectations of you.
If you allow them to, your purpose can drastically shift from doing it for God to doing it so you can try to please Edward the Pessimist, who will always have that list all ready to go to beat you over the head with no matter what.
Like, Jesus Christ could come bursting through that door on a golden unicorn, wearing a t-shirt that says He’s Jesus Christ. And He wouldn’t be good enough for them. He wasn’t two thousand years ago… So how could I or anyone else who isn’t Jesus Christ be good enough for them?
Like many, I fell into that trap as a young minister. So as a result, there I sat every single week. Staring at a flashing dot on the word processor, 11 P.M. Saturday night.
I’d type a killer line. “…No…. So and So will object and say this….”
I’d type a few more ideas when they hit me. “…………………NO…. So and So will say that…”
“What in the world am I going to teach tomorrow? What am I going to say?”
I was so paranoid and self-conscious about what someone else might say, I’d type every single word out. 12 pages stacked up on top of my Bible. Often, I’d sit there until the sun came up typing away.
Every single week, I thought I had to write and deliver the greatest sermon to ever be preached. I felt like I had to be the greatest minister, orator and theologian to ever live.
Ha! No pressure. No pressure at all!? lol
So imagine how good it feels ten years later as I sit here calmly looking over tomorrow’s message as a Johnny Hodges record pops in the backdrop, understanding that I don’t have to climb Mt. Everest and replicate the Sistine Chapel on top of it tomorrow morning.
I prayed and read and studied and researched and brainstormed and contemplated and edited to the point of spiritual exhaustion. There are four dozen wads of notes overflowing the waste basket and spilling out onto the floor. I prepared for this message down to the last drop.
But my reliance is no longer on me and how I can say everything in just the right way to where it’s perfect. That reliance rests serenely in the Spirit.
THE GREATEST SERMON EVER HAS ALREADY BEEN GIVEN. THE GREATEST MINISTER, ORATOR, TEACHER, THEOLOGIAN, ANYTHING, EVERYTHING (!), ALREADY WALKED THE EARTH TWO MILLENNIA AGO. ALL OF THAT PRESSURE IS OFF.
ALL I’VE GOT TO DO IS SHOW UP, BRAG ABOUT JESUS AND LOVE THE PEOPLE I’M SPEAKING TO. AND THEN PREACH THAT SERMON LOUDER WITH MY HANDS AND FEET THAN I DID WITH MY MOUTH WHEN I WALK OUT THE DOOR.
Whether you’re a minister or a barista or you sell insurance, stop trying to climb Mt. Everest. Stop living to satisfy Edward the Pessimist. Love him like Jesus. But don’t be his psychological slave. Don’t be the piñata he goes to take his childhood out on.
Good things happen when we seek to please no one but God.
Of everyone out there, it seems He’s the only one whose actually capable of being pleased.
“For am I now seeking the favor of men, or of God? Or am I striving to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ.” – Paul to Galatia