My sinful framework for navigating my days is built on the assumption that if I have enough information and share enough information I will remain in control. Of course, plenty of days this worldview is shattered by the reality that I will never know enough and that knowing something doesn’t mean I have the power to control it.
My Achilles heel, my weakness that Satan tempts me with, is operating like I can get to a point when I will know enough to be immune from problems. I like researching a person or an issue to the point I can imagine I have learned everything necessary to be in control. I will research televisions before going to the store to buy one. I consider it a failure if I think the salesperson know more than me when talking about the televisions on the shelf. When I go to the Apple store for help, it will never be because I did not know the answer. I will go because they have the tool or parts I did not have at home. If I had the parts or time I would have done the work myself. I have the vanity of expecting to be the most informed person in the room.
For the most part, I can control what I say, but I am not in control of what people will hear. The messages I send through my words and actions are not only defined by me but also by the person receiving the messages. I wish I could control messages along every step of their path between sending and receiving. The words I have let slip in haste hurt me because I know there is no way to take them back.
The communication of the gospel in the church is not just about what we say, but also anticipating how we will be heard and trusting the Holy Spirit to be at work in these words. We have a message to share that is full of hope and promise for a world that is desperately in need of the good news of Jesus. Before people encounters my words, they have already been affected by the world they live in, other Christians they have met, and what they expect from me. I need to take the time to listen to the landscape of a person so that I can navigate how to communicate with him in such a way that my words do not get lost on the way. But I don’t want to listen to the cultural landscape of a person’s life just as research so that I can control my message. There is beauty in each person I meet that I want to receive and enjoy.
I daily rediscover that when I let go of trying to control a situation or a person I am enriched by a stronger relationship. When I am open to witnessing how God is at work in another person’s life, I find how rich the body of Christ is with many different members.
Dwight D. Eisenhower said, “In the Army, whenever I became fed up with meetings, protocol, and paper work, I could rehabilitate myself by a visit with the troops. Among them, talking to each other as individuals, and listening to each other’s stories, I was refreshed and could return to headquarters reassured, hidden behind administrative entanglements, the military was an enterprise manned by human beings.”
I find it necessary that when I get lost in my head, I need to talk to people and discover how God is at work in more lives than my own.