Satan is the Father of Lies (John 8:44). His master plan is to lie to us and get us to believe his lies. No doubt, some lies deal with issues of false doctrine. But that isn’t what I want us to consider in this series of posts. Rather, Satan sometimes realizes he can’t devour some Christians with doctrinal error. Instead, he tries something more insidious, something capable of knocking us completely off our spiritual feet. If we believe these lies, we will be taken captive and destroyed.
I recently read a very interesting book that provided an intriguing look at growing up, maturing (wait for it…wait for it… yes, here it is, an associate link: The Life Model: Living from the heart Jesus gave you). In the past few Mondays, as we looked at God’s way for our individual lives, I’ve been sharing some of what I learned from this book. I’ve already looked at the infant stage, the child stage, the adult stage and the parent stage of maturity. Today, let’s look at the elder stage (beginning when the youngest child has become an adult).
The Elder Stage
While we always continue to mature, this is the highest level of maturity shared by the authors of The Life Model. We need to remember that just because someone’s children have become adults, doesn’t mean they automatically enter this elder stage of maturity. Sadly, some may have biologically raised children to adulthood but still be children themselves. This is simply the authors’ marker for when this stage can begin.
True elders are comfortable in their own skin. They act like themselves in the midst of difficulty. They don’t check the winds of change, putting their finger to the air, to see how they need to act and react. They have become comfortable with who God has made them to be, with their actions, their reactions, their responses. They are also comfortable helping their community grow based on its God-given identity, not trying to force on the community what the elder wants it to be. They see the value and potential in all others, helping them accomplish their reach their potential and goals. Elders are able to look past the flaws and facades of others to see what God has designed them to be.
Elders do not simply parent their own children, they work to parent the community. “They can handle criticism and rejection, speak the truth even when it is not easy or popular, serve without being appreciated, encourage needed growth and change, delight in younger people’s skill and power, and place what is best for the community over personal fairness and preference” (p. 23).
Finally, true elders recognize that those with struggling biological families need a spiritual family. They need a spiritual family to help them heal, grow, and thrive. These elders are willing to give the nurture and care needed in these situations treating these “spiritual adoptees” with the same care they would their own biological children.
Maturity Tasks of the Elder
According to the authors, there are four tasks for the elders to accomplish as they continue to grow within the community.
- Elders establish an accurate community identity and act like themselves in the midst of difficulty.
- Elders prize each community member, and enjoy the true self in each individual.
- Elders parent and mature the community.
- Elders give life to those without a family through spiritual adoption (p. 33).
The elders accomplish these tasks as the community responds in the following ways, respectively.
- The community recognizes elders within the community.
- The community provides opportunities for elders to be involved with those in all of the other maturity stages.
- The community creates a structure to help the elders do their job, which allows people at every stage of maturity to interact properly with those in other stages, and listen to the wisdom of maturity.
- The community places a high value on being a spiritual family to those with no family (p. 33).
When Elders Fail
If elders fail to accomplish these maturity tasks, the community suffers. There is disorder. There is meaninglessness. There is lack of direction for the community. The community will begin to disintegrate at every level. When elders fail to prize and value each member of the community, life-giving interactions diminish. At-risk, hurting, and struggling people fail to heal and survive. Interdependence within the community is stunted, and thus, the community’s growth is stunted. When true elders don’t lead, parenting the community properly, unqualified people do, resulting in immaturity across the community. When true elders do not parent and adopt those whose biological families are not sufficient, poverty, violence, crisis, crime, and mental disorders increase. Obviously, when those whose biological parents aren’t bringing them to maturity have no one who mentors them, they simply won’t mature.
Seeing the sad prospect of a community without qualified and true elders helps us understand the sad statement made by the authors: “Sadly, most in our culture never make it to this level of maturity. This is unfortunate because the success of any country, community, school or church body will have a direct correlation to the presence of true elders who are guiding and advising” (p. 23). In other words, when elders fail to fulfill their tasks, the community fails to grow to maturity as a whole.
The Spiritual Application
I think the spiritual application at this level is abundantly clear. Churches need elders. Without true and qualified elders, churches cannot mature and grow. Without men who will parent and grow the brethren within the congregation, the congregation will be stunted. Look at churches across the nation. What is the real problem going on within so many? Do they not have elders because they are small? Or are they small because they don’t have true elders?
I can’t help but think of Ezekiel 34:2-10. God was bringing judgment upon Judah because her shepherds weren’t shepherding. The flock had disintegrated and was scattered across the mountains. This was written within the context of the Babylonian captivity. Babylon was destroying Judah and it was because there weren’t true elders guiding that nation. I find Ezekiel 34:10 very interesting. God was delivering Judah up to captivity, but He called it a deliverance from these awful shepherds who had dealt so poorly with Judah.
God has given qualifications for elders within His communities (I Timothy 3:1-7; Titus 1:5-9). Without getting in depth with these qualifications, I think we can all see that the essence of these lists says God wants mature Christians to be elders within His churches. If we want more true shepherds in our congregations, then more of us have to work on spiritual maturity. We have to start by first being disciples, surrendering our lives to God. We have to begin with personal growth. If no one matures, then there will be no elders and eventually there will be no churches. Oh, sure there will be groups that call themselves churches, but they will not be what God wants. Eventually, as He did with the seven churches of Asia, He will judge the churches and remove their lampstand.
Concluding the Series
I spoke with one friend who said he was reading this series, but then got depressed and had to quit. I can completely understand that. As I read The Life Model, I became quite discouraged. As I’ve thought more about maturing, I see more clearly how far I have to grow. That can seem overwhelming. However, I’ve begun to emotionally grasp another concept that is helping me. Time is not my enemy. Time is my friend. I don’t have to be at the elder level of maturity by the weekend. I just need to grow some more between now and then. I can grow a little today. Then tomorrow, I’ll grow a little more. And the next day. And the next. In God’s good time, if I continue to grow in Him, He’ll mature me.
Let’s keep growing together.
I recently read a very interesting book that provided an intriguing look at growing up, maturing (wait for it…wait for it… yes, here it is, an associate link: The Life Model: Living from the heart Jesus gave you). In the past few Mondays, as we looked at God’s way for our individual lives, I’ve been sharing some of what I learned from this book. I’ve already looked at the infant stage, the child stage and the adult stage of maturity. Today, let’s look at the parent stage (birth of 1st child until youngest child is an adult).
The Parent Stage
This is where I begin to really get a bit worried about me. The Life Model begins this section by saying, “Biologically being a parent does not automatically put you at the parent stage of maturity. In fact, many parents are not at this level. You know that you are at the parent stage, however, when you can sacrificially care for your children without resenting the sacrifice or expecting to receive anything for your efforts. You may feel exhausted or overwhelmed at times, but you still will be able to appreciate, not begrudge, your sacrifice” (p. 22).
This presents a problem for many in our society. We often have an entitlement mindset. We are entitled to our fun, our recreation, our plans, our goals. Having children shouldn’t get in the way of any of that. This becomes even more apparent since more and more people are becoming parents biologically because they thought they were entitled to the pleasures of sex without being impacted by its natural consequences. Too many of us parents think we are entitled to keep doing everything we were doing when we were simply independent adults (biologically) and should never be asked to sacrifice anything, neither time, money, effort, recreation, social activities, or goals.
Having said all of that, I love these two sentences in the book: “Parenting does involve sacrifice, but it is not about giving up who you are. It is about becoming who you are!” (p. 22).
4 Tasks for Parents
There are four tasks parents must learn to accomplish if they will grow to the elder stage of maturity.
- Parents must learn to protect, serve, and enjoy their families.
- Parents must learn to take care of their children without expecting to be taken care of by the children in return.
- Parents must learn to allow and provide spiritual parents and siblings for their children.
- Parents must learn how to bring their children through difficult times and return them to joy from other emotions (p. 32).
Maturing parents will quickly learn that accomplishing these tasks requires support from a community and guidance from other parents who have already matured and walked this path ahead of us. We alone cannot provide all that our children will need as they mature into adults. If we are wise we will bring other people into our children’s lives to help as spiritual parents and siblings. We’ll rely on shepherds in the church. We’ll rely on other mature safe parents. We’ll rely on extended family. We’ll rely on others who can, along with us, help our children mature and grow.
The essence of parenting is striving to represent God to our families. We need to learn to act as God acts. Love as God loves. Teach as God teaches. Discipline as God disciplines. Help as God helps. When we can accomplish this, we are ready to move into the final stage of maturity.
We accomplish these tasks as the community and extended family provide the following four supports:
- The community gives both parents the opportunity to sacrificially contribute to their family.
- The community promotes devoted parenting.
- The community encourages relationships between children and extended spiritual family members.
- The community supports parent by giving them encouragement, guidance, breaks, and opportunities to recharge (p. 32).
When Parents Don’t Mature
When parents don’t mature to protect, serve, enjoy their families, the family members are at risk, deprived, and feel worthless or unimportant. Further, this lack of care for the children often calls on the children to care for the parents. Some call this parentifying the children. Sadly, we commonly see these parentified children as mature beyond their years. However, in the long run it usually stunts their emotional maturity. It is a form of emotional abuse. Of course, it make maturity really difficult to accomplish because this troubled person is pretty sure they are mature and will hardly listen to any ideas to the contrary.
When parents won’t bring in trusted members of the community to help mature and develop their children, the children can become vulnerable to peer pressure, cults, and misfortune. Further, the parents themselves can get completely overwhelmed. It is not more mature to try to parent our children completely on our own. Both parents and children need to the support of the community around us. Further, if we don’t learn to bring our children back to joy, they can get lost in their sadness, depressed and despairing. The family units begin to disintegrate because there is no joy and peace to connect them with each other.
The Spiritual Application
Think about our church community. Are we providing what our parents need to mature themselves and help their children mature. I can’t help but think that the community that makes up the church is rarely trying to accomplish this. Instead, the community is relying on the organization of the church to do this. It is not really Christians helping Christians but a church organized plan. There may be mother’s day out programs, there may be extensive youth groups, there may be sermons preached, but are the members of the community really reaching out to have these interactive relationships with each other and provide the community that is really needed to help us all mature. It seems to me that the quick and easy solution so many churches are looking to is only carrying on the problem. Like the parentified child, we can hardly see how we are not really accomplishing the maturity that we want.
We don’t need church organized programs to accomplish this. What we need is Christians getting involved with each other. We need mature parents taking maturing parents under their wings. We need elders setting the example. We need shepherds guiding the sheep in the flock, not merely administering the business of the fold. We need personal sacrifice of time, money, effort, etc. Look at the community of the very first church in Acts 2-6. These people sacrificed for each other. They cared for each other. They didn’t establish church programs, youth groups, mothers-day-outs, nursery schools. The members took care of each other.
We need parents to be humble and lean on God by leaning on the brethren God has given them. We need children to not simply be age-segregated off into groups of age-based peers. We need the older to teach the younger. We need to introduce our children to questioning, learning, and mentoring by other mature Christians. Perhaps we need the same thing.
Of course, if we’re still not even at the adult level of maturity, we need to back up and grow or we’ll never be able to parent. Let’s be honest with ourselves about this growth and become responsible for our maturity.
Make sure you come back next week for the final installment of this look at maturity as presented in The Life Model: Living from the heart Jesus gave you
I recently read a very interesting book that provided an intriguing look at growing up, maturing (wait for it…wait for it… yes, here it is, an associate link: The Life Model: Living from the heart Jesus gave you). I’ve already looked at the infant stage and the child stage of maturity, today, we want to look at the adult stage (ages 13-birth of the first child).
The Adult Stage (13 to birth of first child)
The infant staged was marked by complete neediness. The infant neither knows what it needs or how to express its needs. Someone else has to provide for the baby’s needs. The infant moves into the childhood stage as he learns to take care of himself. The child learns how to express needs, wants and feelings. However, the only person the child is capable of caring for is self. “You will know when a person has graduated from the child level of maturity to the adult level because he will shift from a being a self-centered child to a both-centered adult. While a child needs to learn me-centered fairness (how do I make it fair for me), an adult learns we-centered fairness (how do I make it fair for us)” (pp. 21-22). If it seems that in any given relationship you have to give more, listen more, tolerate more to maintain the relationship then the other person is likely still in the child stage. By the same token, if you spend most of your relationships complaining about how everyone else doesn’t seem to give you what you need, perhaps you are seeing a need to work on maturity in your own life. That is especially the case if you are complaining about your kids not giving enough. Sadly, in too many cases we have children in adult bodies, expecting adults in children’s bodies to provide their needs for them. That is dysfunction at its height. Yet, many of us are blinded to it because of our own immaturity.
There are 6 personal tasks each person must accomplish in the adult stage of maturity to move on to the next level:
- The adult learns to care for self and others simultaneously in mutually satisfying relationships.
- The adult learns to remain stable in difficult situations, and learns how to return self and others to joy.
- The adult learns to bond with peers and develops a group identity.
- The adult learns to take responsibility for how personal actions affect others, including protecting others from self.
- The adult learns to contribute to the community; learns how to articulate “who we are” as part of belonging to the community.
- The adult learns to express the characteristics of his or hear heart in a deepening personal style (p. 31).
The adult accomplishes these tasks as his or her family and community accomplishes the following tasks respectively:
- The family and community provides opportunities for the adult to participate in group life.
- The family and community affirms that the adult will make it through difficult times.
- The family and community provides positive environment where peers can bond.
- The family and community teaches adults that their behaviors impact others and impact history.
- The family and community provides opportunities to be involved in important community tasks.
- The family and community holds the adult accountable while still accepting and affirming the aspects of his or her true self (p. 31).
As you can see, adulthood is the time when we learn how to relate well to others. Adulthood is when we learn how to care for others as well as ourselves. As infants, we were dependent. As children, we learn independence. As adults, we learn interdependence.
As a community or a family, we must learn to provide the opportunities for the adult to practice interdependence. I think this is a struggle for most North American communities because we prize independence so much. We think we are promoting maturity, when actually we are locking people into immaturity.
Stuck in Adulthood
If we do not learn these lessons of maturity, there are some pretty significant dysfunctions that develop in our lives. If we cannot accomplish the task of caring for others along with self, we remain self-centered. Other people will always be dissatisfied with us, they will be frustrated with us. Our relationships will never deepen. We’ll never be able to have truly mutually deep relationships. What an impact not learning these lessons will have in marriage. Do you think perhaps this is the reason the divorce rate is so high these days?
If we never learn to hang on to stability and return to joy despite what we face, we’ll learn instead to conform to peer pressures. We’ll rely on negative and destructive group activities. Is it any wonder that gangs become popular for young adults. They aren’t learning to have personal stability or to find stability from God, so they get involved in groups that seem to provide some kind of stability and identity. Of course, the other potential problem is not bonding with any group and becoming a loner, isolating, having a huge sense of self-importance. We’ll think we can handle everything on our own and cause damage in all our relationships.
If we cannot learn to take personal responsibility for our own actions and how our actions impact others, we can become controlling, manipulative, blaming, harmful. We crash through life without concern for who is in our path. This includes damage inflicted on spouses and even children, not to mention co-workers, neighbors, fellow church members. All we can think about is ourselves and what we aren’t getting. We will never stop to think what others are facing and how our actions impact them. We only think about how they impact us and we become users and manipulators.
If we cannot learn to contribute to the community, we become a drain on the community. There doesn’t seem to be much in between ground here. We are either uplifting or we are down-dragging. We are either adding life to our family and community or we are sucking life out of it.
Finally, if we cannot learn to express who we are and the God-given characteristics of our heart, we’ll never have the self-confidence to live the way God has designed us. Instead, we’ll constantly be trying to fill roles that others have developed for us. We’ll spin our wheels trying to prove ourselves to the world, to our peers, to the “judges” of our community. We will constantly hang on the approval of others and even become willing to sell out on our values to get it (p. 31).
If you are like me, you may have thought just getting to adulthood is good enough, learning the childhood lessons ought to be fine. However, if we wish to have personal fulfillment and be beneficial to our families and communities (neighborhood, church, work) we need to keep working on maturing.
The Spiritual Application For Individuals
We’re not done growing. We’ve learned what we need as Christians. We’ve learned how to express our needs. We’ve learned how we fit in the big picture of Christianity, our congregation, our community. We’ve even learned to take care of ourselves. But God didn’t save us through Jesus so we could take care of ourselves. God saved us so we could be a blessing to others. God saved us so we can learn to bear one another’s burdens (Galatians 6:2).
This is where our faith really gets tested. During infancy and childhood, we may think there aren’t any problems out there in the Christian world. We may develop idealistic notions that as long as we do what is right, everything will just work out. But that is not how it works. Satan attacks. Others falter. Personalities clash. Immaturity causes dysfunction. We continue to struggle with issues we think should have been overcome early on. We can become disillusioned with Christ and His church and even our own growth. We need to learn that daily problems doesn’t mean something is wrong. It just means we are growing. We are in a process. Things will work out. That is the promise God is explaining in Romans 8:28-30. We need to learn confidence in God that He is working on our behalf. That will help us have stability and continued growth.
We need to learn to overcome isolation. That is going to mean sharing our secrets with other Christians (James 5:16). That’s going to mean spending time with our brethren even when the church hasn’t planned something. Did you notice that the very first Christians didn’t just meet in congregational assemblies, they also met from house to house (Acts 2:46). That wasn’t a church planned activity. Those were individual Christians opening their homes and developing relationships instead of isolating on their own.
We have to learn to contribute to the church community. This is so much more than learning to lead a public prayer or teach a Bible class. Look at the example of Tabitha in Acts 9:36-43. Here was a woman, probably single, perhaps a widow. Did she wait for the church to ask her to participate in some congregationally planned service activity? No. She saw a need and she filled it. She made garments for those in need. She didn’t do everything, but she did what she could. She didn’t serve everyone, but she served who she could. She didn’t wait to be asked. She just served. She contributed. What I can’t help but notice is that James, an apostle, was killed in Acts 12. The disciples mourned and buried him. Stephen, an evangelist and a deacon (I believe), was killed in Acts 7. The disciples mourned and buried him. Tabitha, who held no office and wasn’t seemingly a “major player” in the church, dies and the disciples call in Peter and say, “Something has to be done about this.” The others were laid to rest and Tabitha was brought back to keep on serving. Perhaps this tells us how important this part of our maturity really is.
Don’t give up. Keep on growing spiritually.
The Spiritual Application for Congregations
We might think if Christians grow through infancy and then make it through spiritual childhood, they’re good. We can leave them on their own to progress. Not so. Certainly, as adults, they are responsible for their maturity. However, as a church we need to help them mature. We need to provide the opportunities they need to progress in spiritual adulthood, or they’ll get locked into spiritual adolescence. Sadly, I think numerous churches suffer because they are filled with a lot of Christians who never get passed spiritual puberty. They’re locked in the awkward stage of gaining independence but not knowing how to deal with interpersonal relationships. They never learn how to be a productive part of the church family. They can answer the doctrinal questions right. They can challenge error. They can even sometimes think for themselves and see where we need to make changes. However, they don’t know how to express that. They don’t understand how their inappropriate expressions destroy relationships. We need to help with that.
What are we doing for the growing Christians to be part of the group life? Don’t just think in terms of the assemblies. Sadly, as I pointed out in the last stage, we often do great and having training classes on how to lead public prayers and give talks. But what about being really involved in the community of the congregation. What are we doing to help these growing Christians be a contributing factor in the lives of the other saints around them? Are we teaching them how to encourage others? What about hospital visits? Visiting the shut-ins? What about teaching them to contribute to the secular community? Sadly, most churches today are taking the easy road. Instead of teaching the growing Christians to provide contribution to the world around them, they just take up a weekly collection and then let the church contribute to the secular community. I don’t believe that is the church’s job. The church needs to teach growing Christians how to contribute to the society around them.
What are we doing to encourage growing Christians to develop community with other growing Christians? Do we do much more than our assemblies? The question is not of churches providing social time for the members. The point is for more mature Christians to take less mature Christians under their wings and bring them into relationships with others. The problem is all too often we don’t have the more mature Christians. We just have a bunch of adolescent Christians clamoring for someone else to do something and provide something for them. We don’t have to get involved in unscriptural activities for the local church in order to accomplish this. We simply have to step outside our “we’ve never done anything like that” box and creatively consider scriptural options to get growing Christians together.
Finally, what are we doing to help growing Christians really see how their unique gifts can benefit the congregation and benefit the kingdom? Too often we simply preach guilt building lessons that make people feel bad because they are doing some thing or the other. What if instead we spent that time to find what people are gifted for and encourage them in those areas? What if instead of sweeping with broad brushes and expecting everyone to be Stepford Christians, we learn to accept folks as individuals with quirks and struggles, but with gifts and talents and learn to help them capitalize on their strengths instead of feeling guilty for their weaknesses?
Do you think we and our brethren would grow if we took this approach? Do you think churches would grow if they took this approach?
Tell me what you think. Does this sound a like a legitimate step of maturity? How do you think we can unstick ourselves if we are stuck in this level? Do we need to be concerned about it at all?
One of the big problems I’ve had in the church setting is letting people grow. Oh, don’t get me wrong. I love to see people grow. I love to see them get stronger. I love to see them develop more faith. I love to see them learn new things. My problem is letting them be where they are before they do all that growing.
2 Peter 1:5-8 says we must all increase and add faith, virtue, knowledge, self-control, steadfastness, godliness, brotherly affection, and love. Here is what that necessarily means. Right now we lack some faith, virtue, knowledge, self-control, steadfastness, godliness, brotherly affection, and love. If others are to grow in these areas, that means right now they lack in some of them too. That doesn’t make them bad. That doesn’t make them rebellious. That doesn’t make them someone who needs to be disciplined. We’re all on a spectrum. Some are farther along than me. Some are not as far along as me. I don’t want those farther along than me trying to control me and force me to be where they are. I want them to understand that I’m growing, be patient with me, and simply encourage me. Shouldn’t I do the same with others?
My problem is when I see someone who I think is less mature in some aspect of knowledge, virtue, or faith, I want to rush in grab control of their life and force them to be on the same page as me. Sadly, what happens most of the time is I polarize them away from where I am. I often push them into rebellion as they want to assert their right to be where they are right now. So, not only do I not help them grow, I actually stop their growing.
Why do I do this? Because I equate disagreeing with me or doing something different from me to mean that the other person doesn’t really want to serve God and I need to force them to do so. That just doesn’t work. However, when I’m able to recognize that we are all growing, that other people who are at different places than I am love God and they are growing, I’m often amazed at how much they do actually grow. I’m also amazed at how often we end up on the same page eventually.
Here is the hard part. This means I have to give others permission to disagree with me. I have to give others permission to make different choices from me. This means I have to give others permission to think and feel differently than I do about some things. This means I have to give others permission to be wrong sometimes. Or at least I think they’re wrong. Sometimes I was the one that needed to grow and came to believe I had been wrong.
The other reason this is hard is because I’m so afraid others might make me look bad. If folks found out someone who believed “that” or did “this” was in my congregation, they might think I’m somehow bad. It’s like when my children do something wrong. I take their wrong on to myself as if I was the one who did it. I’m not. I’m simply the guy who helps them grow and teaches them when they do wrong. Jesus was able to look at folks in Thyatira and Smyrna (Revelation 2:18-3:6) and not hold against them the sins of others. That’s what I need to hang on to.
I certainly do not believe a congregation can simply allow someone to live in divisive rebellion against God’s will. After all, God did tell the church in Thyatira to quit tolerating Jezebel. However, I also think I am too quick to label some as rebellious simply because they don’t think about every little detail the way I do. It is amazing how I can catastrophize even the smallest of disagreements. It reminds me of the time my dad found I had taken some caffeine pills and in fear had plotted out my life of alcohol, drugs, and crime that was the sure conclusion of having done that. Fortunately, those caffeine pills haven’t led me down that path. Not yet anyway. I remember being so mad at him. I remember wanting to take some more of those pills just to prove him wrong. I remember thinking I would never treat my kids like that. And yet, I do it to brethren all the time (I probably do it to my kids too). I can easily take the smallest disagreement and be sure it means someone doesn’t care about God, won’t obey Him, and is on a path for hell that will lead numerous others with her. Then again, she may simply be on a path of growth and this is where she needs to work. I need to let her develop on God’s time table, not mine. I need to share with her my experience, strength, and hope, encouraging her in what I believe is right. What I can’t do is control and manipulate her to be where I am right now. That’s not my job. Not to mention, it is impossible.
The long and short of it in our churches is there is a time to let people grow. That means there is a time to let them be wrong. That means there is a time to let them be weak. That means there is a time to let them make mistakes. I want others to do that for me.
Keep the faith and remember God’s way works.
(If you need to know what this is all about, start with the first post in the series and click through the succeeding links. Also, as posts are added links will be placed in that first post to each one. By the way, please check out the site for the Kelsey Wynne Harris Foundation and help promote the foundation by purchasing any of the Life’s More Interesting products. By the way, unlike the other links in this post, there is no affiliation link here. None of your purchases of these products grease my pockets.)
The final post is here. I appreciate your patience with me and I hope my tribute to Kelsey Harris has benefited you as much as it has benefited me. I’ve enjoyed thinking about these challenging resolutions. I’ve grown through writing about them. I hope you’ve grown through reading about them. I certainly believe Kelsey wrote something worth reading. I hope I’ve taken her message and added to them. I hope I’ve written something worth reading and I hope you feel you have read something worth sharing. Please tell others about this amazing little poem packed with all kinds of meaning. I believe it will be a help to others.
And now, on to the post:
Today, I want to Be Someone Worth Knowing
Today, I want to…
Write something worth reading
Read something worth sharing
Say something worth repeating
Give something worth getting
Choose something worth keeping
Sacrifice something worth giving up
Go somewhere worth seeing
Eat something worth tasting
Hug someone worth holding
Buy something worth treasuring
Cry tears worth shedding
Do something worth watching
Risk something worth protecting
Listen to something worth hearing
Teach something worth learning
Why do I want to do all these things? Because I want to be someone worth knowing.
I don’t want to be someone who is known. I want to be someone worth knowing. Granted, I may be known if knowing me is worthwhile. But my goal is not notoriety or fame. My goal is to be someone that when you know me, you think it is worthwhile. I want to be someone you are glad to know. I want to be someone you are glad to be around. I want to be someone who lifts up and fills up, not tears down and drains out. I want to be someone you see coming and you run up to meet, not someone you cross the street to avoid.
I don’t want to be the person, however, that is intent on letting you know I’m worth knowing. We all know that guy. He is forever trying to impress us with his knowledge, achievements, work. He can’t stop talking about what he did. He can’t help giving unsolicited advice or trying to correct something you didn’t even know was incorrect. I don’t want to be the guy who is personally convinced he is worth knowing. In fact, if I am worth knowing, I’ll probably always have a bit of that idea that I’m not quite worth knowing yet.
No, I don’t want to be the guy who wants to impress you with how worth knowing I am. I want to be the person who lets you know how worth knowing you are. I want to be the person who can see your unique gifts and talents and help you become all that you can be. I want to be the guy who can help you on your path to glorify God and be with Him forever. I want to be the guy who you want walking on the path with you so we can mutually help each other along and be happy we are doing it.
Becoming That Guy
But how? How do I get to be a person worth knowing? Do I think I can stumble along through life and suddenly one day I’ll be there? Do I think if I simply react to the ebbs and flows of life’s tides that I’ll become someone worth knowing by accident? It just won’t work that way. That’s where the other resolutions come in. When I read these other resolutions, I see four overarching principles at work that make me someone worth knowing.
1. To be someone worth knowing, I must be someone who is maintaining.
I know it sounds odd, but before I become someone that you may think is worth knowing, I have to be comfortable with me. I have to take care of me. No, I don’t mean this in a selfish way of getting mine first. I mean this in a way that says I can’t give what I don’t have. I can’t be for you what I’m not for myself. Until I learn how to receive, I’ll never know how to give.
Have you ever noticed in the maturity process God has us all start off as someone who has to be completely cared for by others, then takes us to a place where we learn to take care of ourselves? Only then does He take us into a stage of taking care of others.
If I want to be someone worth knowing, I have to start with making sure I’m comfortable with me and I’m maintaining me. That’s why I choose things worth keeping, buy things worth treasuring, and even cry tears worth shedding. These all have to do with taking care of me physically and emotionally and letting me be in a place of peace and strength so I can then be a strength for you as well.
2. To be someone worth knowing, I must be someone who is growing.
As I said, if I’m really worth knowing, I’ll probably always have the personal feeling that I’m not quite worth knowing yet. I still have growing to do. To be worth knowing, I shouldn’t work on you to convince you I’m worth knowing; I should work on me to grow to be worth knowing.
That’s why I continue to read things worth sharing, go places worth seeing, listen to things worth hearing. This is how I grow. I get outside myself and realize I don’t have it all down. I don’t have all wisdom and knowledge. I need to hear what God has to say. I need to hear what others have to say. I need to experience new places and new things. I need to be filled by those who have gone before me before I can fill anyone else.
I hate to be a broken record, but I can’t give what I don’t have. To give you more, I have to grow more.
3. To be someone worth knowing, I must be someone who is daring.
I think of the old Garth Brooks song, “The River.” The second verse says:
Too many times we stand aside
And let the waters slip away
‘Til we put off ‘til tomorrow
Has now become today
So don’t you sit upon the shoreline
And say you’re satisfied
Choose to chance the rapids
And dare to dance the tide.
If I’m just satisfied with reacting to what is happening to me, I’ll never be worth knowing. I’ll be just another member of the teeming masses of mediocrity. I don’t want to be just another acquaintance you’ve made over the years. I want to be someone worth knowing. That means I’ll have to take some chances.
That’s why I risk things worth protecting. That’s why I strive to do things worth watching. Let’s face it, anytime I step up to do something and let others watch, I’m risking failure and rejection. That’s why I eat things worth tasting. Remember, that isn’t just about satiating hunger. That is about experiencing new things. That is about reaching out with an adventurous spirit to go beyond my comfort zone.
If I want to be someone worth knowing, I’m going to have to chance the rapids and dare to dance the tide. Otherwise, I’ll only sit along the shoreline getting wet from the spray of others who are making a splash.
4. To be someone worth knowing, I must be someone who is caring.
There are some who don’t care. They just want fame and fortune. They walk on others to clamber their way to the top. If they do for others, they are really only doing for themselves. They are manipulating to get to their ends. However, if I really want to be someone worth knowing, I move from selfishness to selflessness. I have learned to maintain myself so well that I’m willing to give myself in the service of others without fear that I will be lost in the process.
Think of how many of these resolutions are really about others. I want to write things worth reading. I want to say things worth repeating. I want to give things worth getting. I want to hug someone worth holding. I want to cry tears worth shedding. I want to teach things worth learning. I want to sacrifice things worth giving up. None of those resolutions are really about me. They are about me giving to you. I can’t be someone worth knowing if I only think of me, if I’m only trying to line my pockets, further my fame, or popularize my name.
However, when I’m ready to give of myself to help you grow, then I’ll be someone you want to know.
Perhaps it is too much to ask to accomplish all these resolutions every day. However, as I work on each of them, I am growing to be someone worth knowing. That’s what I want to be today and every day.