Christianity 201

January 30, 2011

Imitate Me, As I (try to) Imitate Christ

Jon Swanson’s blog, 300 Words a Day is one of a very few listed in this blog’s sidebar because of his consistent devotional focus.   This piece appeared there several days ago under the much simpler (!) title, Being a Model…

Am I living a life I’d want someone to copy?

Why not?

Those two sentences found their way into my journal over the weekend, as I was thinking about a presentation I’ve got coming up. I’m going to talk about being and making disciples. (That subject has shown up as my one word and in my list of 8 ways to get better at following.)

As I thought about the idea of making disciples, of developing followers, I realized that part of making a disciple is being willing to be a model.

I hate that. So do you. The last thing we want is for someone to use our life as a pattern. We know all of the ways that we fail. We know all the strategies that don’t work. We know how we don’t measure up. We know how we hurt someone we love.  We are, we think, models for spiritual failure.

But I think I’m wrong.

Paul consistently said, “Here are my failures. Here’s what I don’t do well. Here’s what God does wonderfully, sometimes in spite of me, sometimes through me.” He said this especially to Timothy, his most mentioned disciple. (A working definition of a disciple is a person who chooses to allow the life and teaching of someone to shape his/her own life.)

Helping people learn how to follow Jesus doesn’t mean being perfect.

It means being translucent, keeping the details hidden but allowing the outline of your humanity to show. It means acknowledging the failures and the forgiveness. It means showing when you let your mouth get ahead of your brain, here is how you ask forgiveness.

When you don’t know how to talk to God, here’s where you start. When you feel like you aren’t measuring up, here’s how you stop trying so hard.

~ Jon Swanson

December 29, 2010

Making Your Disappointments Work For You

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Back in May I borrowed an analogy from David Paul Door; and today I decided to see what he’s been writing more recently.    This one appeared earlier in the month under the title Leverage Your Disappointments.

Everyone to whom much was given, of him much will be required, and from him to whom they entrusted much, they will demand the more (Luke 12:48).

The above verse is in the context of knowing God’s general will and acting upon it.  For all us who know what God wants (in general) much is asked.  Where we have knowledge, the knowledge should grow.  Where we have talents, they should be refined and used; our money should be leveraged for the kingdom of God.

But one of things we have also been given is our disappointments and our failures. These two things are never experienced as gifts.  They feel terrible.  They’re heavy. They are things we often try to ignore, or, worse, medicate with food, shopping, drugs, or alcohol.  But failure is also something to be leveraged.

Think about it for a minute.  It is often our greatest disappointments and failures, and how we overcame them, which are the greatest use to other people.  They inspire, but they also clarify the way forward for others.  Our failures can keep others from failing and bolster others who are going through the same disappointments.

Sure we admire winners, but we can relate to the one who overcame great hardships, because our lives are filled with great hardships and disappointments.  If you haven’t experienced these yet, wait a few years.  You will hit a point in your life where nothing is going according to your plan. Is that a bad thing?

We certainly can make it a bad thing.  We can throw in the towel.  We can quit, thinking how stupid it was for us to even try.  But what a missed opportunity!  It is the failure itself that is the missed opportunity — the choice to put your face into the wind, and make not only something great for yourself, but others who will walk the same road.

Possibly related post: Regrets, I Have a Few — A Review of Regret Free Living by Steven Arterburn.