It’s so funny how find yourself thinking that you have finally arrived as a Christian……you pray quite a bit for the most part, the blessings of God are evident in your life, people admire you and look up to you and everything seems generally peachy…..and then God allows all the “nyama-nyama” (Nigerian slang for dirt) to rise up to the surface. You find yourself being corrected by people you unconsciously thought yourself better than and you have no choice but to take on their words of advice because they’re absolutely right and you’re absolutely wrong. Well, that’s exactly what happened to me last week and not just once.
I know I’ve mentioned the fact that I struggle with pride a couple of times on this blog but I didn’t really know how bad it was until it stared me in the face last week. I incited people’s anger and exchanged words with them in a way that made me sooo little. I wish I could say that most of my disappointment in myself was due to the fact that I felt I was not representing Jesus well (which is what I initially told myself) but the truth is that it was a blow to my pride……how could such a “lofty personality”as myself have been brought down by exhibiting such debased behaviour?
Suffice to say, I was humbled and it was a struggle for me to allow myself be humbled. A bigger part of me tried to justify my behaviour but thank God for His Spirit alive and at work in me that convicted me (and for wonderful @towo who keeps me accountable at work). I was somehow able to do the right thing and apologize but it was not easy at all!
More and more, God seems to be showing me those parts of myself that need work. It’s like when you finally get to a place where you have all the things you dreamt of but you thought too impossible to achieve or too far away in the future to get now, and then you realize that it’s not all you thought it to be. I’ve also blogged about this before in “After the Answer” but what I’m learning is that the responsibility that comes with realising a long-held dream doesn’t just come in the form of obligations to other people (for example getting married makes you accountable to another person, getting a promotion at work comes with more responsibility). There are obligations to yourself as well in that parts of you that need work become more evident and you need to work on them in order to grow.
If you were never a good follower and you are eventually promoted to a leadership position, you will be an even worse leader. You never knew how to submit to authority and true leadership happens to be service; you will have to submit to the needs of your followers by putting your feelings aside to ensure that everyone is focused on achieving the common goal. If you are determined to be a good leader despite the fact that you were a bad follower, you will accept that you need to make changes, make them and become a better person for it. On the other hand, if you had remained a follower, it’s quite possible that you would never have made those necessary changes to become a better person.
That’s exactly what I’m learning…..I didn’t know how bad a temper I had until I got this new job and interacted with people who were able to rub me the wrong way and expose defects in my personality. I have wonderful friends and I tell you I can’t remember the last time we fought or exchanged words because we understand and trust each other and so we can speak to each other and trust that we are being spoken to in love. But I’m interacting with people who I don’t really know that well and it’s giving me the “painful” opportunity to see those parts of myself that need work and be mindful of them.
So what am I saying people? There are seasons in life when everything seems to be going smoothly….you’re getting on with everyone and you like the person you are. However, there are times when the unpretty parts of yourself seem to take over and you’re not sure who this foreign creature is that seems to have taken over your body. The first step is not to bash yourself like I did initially because you will never ever be perfect on this side of heaven. Get past the pride and accept the fact that you will always be work in progress….we are constantly striving towards becoming like Jesus. That’s what the Christian walk is primarily about. Then you work on that part of you that needs to die….if you’re quick to anger like me then you have to check your self because the bible has very choice words about that:
“Like a city with breached walls is a man without self-control.”- Proverbs 25:28
“Whoever controls his temper is better than a warrior, and anyone who has control of his spirit is better than someone who captures a city.”- Proverbs 16:32
None of us will never be perfect; God isn’t asking us for perfection. Even the Apostle Paul admitted that he was striving towards perfection but he hadn’t gotten there:
“I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection. But I press on [strive] to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me.” – Philippians 3:12.
God isn’t asking for perfection and quite frankly I doubt He’s interested in it (if you think about the heroes of the bible, not a single one of them was perfect, except Jesus of course). What he wants is for us to stay tuned in to Him and remain sensitive spiritually so when those growing pains come calling, we recognise them for what they are; another opportunity to become a clearer reflection of Jesus.