Let the Gospel Be Slow

Recognize how impatience hurts your leadership
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We are an impatient culture. Our hyper-fast technology has wired us to expect everything instantly–even transformation. While it's understandable to demand hyper-speed from our electronic devices, it's utterly unreasonable–and ungracious–when we have those expectations of ourselves or of the people we lead.

Though we all wish that it wasn't the case, profound and lasting change happens slowly. This complicates leadership. In order to lead well consistently, we need to be mature in our faith, "needing nothing" (James 1:4). We need to love well and exhibit the fruit of the Spirit. However, all of us–as in all of us–are lacking and need to change. Regardless of how smart we are or how much motivation we have to grow, this change takes exponentially more time than any of us would like to admit.

I am a highly sensitive introvert. Due to some family dynamics and unfortunate circumstances early in my life, fear became a constant companion. It did not go away when I started to follow Jesus as a college freshman, or when I got married, and certainly not when I started leading. Though I became increasingly aware of how fear crippled and limited me, I simply could not shake it. It took a few years of counseling (and repeatedly confessing my lack of trust in God) before I could begin to untangle the behaviors and thoughts which actually contributed to my fear. This has been a 20-year process, and I am not yet completely free*–despite the fact that I desperately wish God would eradicate it from my life!

How Impatience Adversely Impacts Us

Type "church growth" into your search engine and literally thousands of sites will pop up. Upon close inspection, many of them belie the human tendency to want bigger, better, faster. Even in our spirituality. A pastor recently received a flyer in the mail boasting, "Make new converts into disciples in just 12 weeks!" When we homeschooled our boys, we did an extensive unit on plants and chose radish seeds for our experiments because they have a very quick and predictable growth cycle. Humans aren't radish seeds. We cannot quantify or schedule our maturation. When we try to impose an inorganic timeframe on our development, we run the risk of creating and perpetuating a false self and possibly sowing into self-hatred.

The false self is a façade that I don when I think someone won't approve of or like me. Not that this has ever happened to me (insert smiley face), but let's say, hypothetically, I'm not sleeping well because I'm anxious about preaching on Sunday. If someone asks how I'm doing, for me to reply, "Great! I'm so psyched to be sharing God's Word this morning" reveals my false self. My true self would humbly admit, "Actually, I am not doing so great. I feel anxious and I didn't sleep much. Would you pray for me before I go up?" This does not mean that we should reveal the depths of our heart with everyone but that routinely hiding or concealing an area of weakness causes us to lose track of who we actually are. We are more prone to hide behind the false self if we are uncomfortable with where we are in our process of growing toward Christ.

March24, 2014 at 8:00 AM

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