you, then, who teach others, do you not teach yourself?… (Romans 2:21).
After Sunday school yesterday a student said to me, “I really appreciate how real you are. You do a really good job of connecting with us. A lot of people come in here and teach us, but forget that it’s important to connect with us and get down on our level.”
On this recent journey God has been taking me on I have been challenged and convicted that the best teachers and preachers are those who share a side of themselves that reveals their own humanity. They are those who come down to the level of their listeners, sharing their own struggles, so that their audience can say, “Yep, that’s me too.”
Although yesterday I connected with my group I recognized that I didn’t feel as connected as I did the two weeks prior. I realized it was because the stories I shared yesterday made me the hero, but I neglected to share any personal stories of struggle or failure, because trust me, truly, there are many.
One lie that has seeped its way into the church is that the best kind of instruction we can give from the pulpit, or Sunday school platform is to share all of our victories and how we’ve done it right. Although, that kind of instruction can be helpful, what people need most is another person who can get down on their level to show them the love of Christ. How can we ever shower people with God’s love if we constantly make them feel like we are above them on the spiritual spectrum?
God uses imperfect people. People with messy stories and lives. People who don’t always get it right. He uses the screw ups of the world to usher forth His kingdom. He uses people who struggle. People like me who struggle with fear, pride, and control. People who want desperately to be like Jesus, but some days or moments don’t look that much like Him.
What is spiritual maturity? Is it found in the pastorate? The pulpit or the seminary halls? I don’t think that’s always the case. I believe spiritual maturity is found at the altar. Not just the Sunday morning altar, but the daily altar of sacrifice in the halls of our own hearts. Spiritually mature people empty themselves before the Father, broken before Him so that His love and grace might construct in them a brand new heart and mind.
None of us are Jesus, we need to stop pretending that we are. We are being made into His image and that process is painful. As I bring people into my pain, pointing them towards the healer, we both find that there is joy in the journey.
Abba, daddy, truly, you love me. I have you, therefore, I have all that I need. You are making me new. I want to live differently. I want to grow in maturity. Help me God along my journey to show a part of myself to others that requires humility, brokenness, and vulnerability for your Kingdom, in Jesus name, Amen.