[This is the 6th in a series of 10 Misconceptions some MKs face.]
I've wanted to be a Christian leader. I am a Christian school teacher. In positions of leadership it is easy to make the assumption or feel like you should "know it all." I guess that's kind of what I expected my Bible college education to get me: a pass into "I'm-Spiritually-Mature Land." But the more you learn, the more you realize that there is to learn. And God does want us to keep seeking and learning Biblical answers. It is also a good thing to want to help others with their problems. We want to use our spiritual knowledge and apply it to everyday life. But it can become easy to become proud and to want to just "fix" other people. You tell me your problems, and now that I'm "spiritually mature" I can assess the situation, slap a Scriptural "bandaid" on your issue, and send you on your merry way.
Positionally I know about progressive sanctification. I know we will never be perfect until we get to heaven, but it is still easy for me to live my life in a way that is not evidencing the fruit of what that means to my individual life. Practically I want to live my life without realizing I am a sinner in desperate need of a Savior. I have just as much potential for sin in my life as the next person. In fact, I had gotten to a point in my life where it felt like I had pretty much nothing more to work on. How proud is that!? I had a "breakthrough" moment when I read a Nancy Leigh DeMoss article talking about the sin of unbelief and doubt, and I was actually quite relieved to find that I was struggling with that because then I had an issue in my life to work on.
The Christian life takes maintenance. I own a home. I own a car. Both of those things require maintenance. As a young car owner, I remember it came as somewhat of a shock to me to realize that not only did I have to pay money for this vehicle, now I had to pay money to register it, put fuel in the car, get oil changes, and pay for maintenance! My house also requires me to mow the lawn, paint it, etc., etc. The dishes don't do themselves, the laundry will not wash itself...and I have special appreciation for stay-at-home moms who have to maintain all these things and keep the kids going too! Everything wears down. If you don't maintain your Christian walk it will also fall into disrepair. I need the accountability of a church family and godly friends who will steer me in the right direction. In my life that has really come into play through my Tuesday night ladies' Bible study. When I am tempted to think I am alone in the struggle, they are there to remind me that there are others with me. I need to keep making DAILY choices for good and not for evil. Otherwise I can get caught up in the lie that I am good enough.
Honestly, growing up in the church it is easy to get the impression that some people are better than others. (Now, my parents did NOT teach me this.) I learned a lot of things in Sunday School and church, but practically we often learn the most by watching the lives of other people. And we watch how people act at church and how they live throughout the week. (I'm really trying to avoid the word "judgmental" here, but that's a topic of its own for another post.) My parents did a good job of making the Bible applicable throughout the week, but it is still easy to think that church is just something you do on Sundays and Wednesdays. Especially in ministry, it is easy to make it feel like church is just something you DO. I need to get to the point where worship is something I take with me throughout every day. And make it a part of what I LIVE and live out in the lives of other people.
It's ok for me to want to be a Christian leader and to help point others to the truth of God's Word, but there will never be a point in my life where I am "more spiritual," because in reality we are all in just as much need of a Savior as the next person. I am just one beggar showing another beggar where to find bread. I am just a tool to be used by the Savior. As I allow others into my life they will see my faults and failures and hopefully learn how to respond. I am nothing in and of myself.
And I guess that is the pitfall here. It is tempting to think that any good I do is in my own strength, but anything of any value in my life will be because it is a gift from the Father of lights. I have had to learn the hard lesson that I can't make decisions for someone else. I need to be coming alongside others and joining them in our path to godliness. I don't want it to be a "do as I say, not as I do" thing. I need to get down and dirty in the daily aspects of a person's life so that they can see how much I care. The old adage is true that "people don't care how much you know until they know how much you care." Along with that, I've also come to realize that I need to grow in my love for others, which will be the focus of my next point.
Reality: We are all in the sanctification process.