26 May 2006

I've been engaged in a series of emails with an old friend. He is moving into a new chapter of life and ministry and I have been challenging him to learn from some of the lessons God has been schooling me in these past fourteen months -- lessons which have often centered around the need to see "honesty about our lives" as a priceless virtue that must be uncompromisingly pursued at any cost. Here's a few lines from our last correspondence ...

I will pray with you and your bride ... that you will soon feel clear and united about this new position that seems to have opened up for you. But I exhort you my brother ... do not walk through a door that you alone have opened.

Charm, a snappy resume, a slam-dunk interview, tailor-made references ... these are far too easily more related to "marketing" than to "God's direction". So always double-check your motives. Not to create self-doubt or fear. But to cultivate both a sensitivity to the leading of the Holy Spirit, and a willingness to recognize and steer away from something just because it's the BBD (the Bigger-Better-Deal).

I also hope that you've been ruthlessly honest with this future employer about the ups and downs in your life and ministry these past years. Because when we merchandise our successes while airbrushing our failures we set ourselves up to become what Brennan Manning rightly calls "the impostor" and we'll eventually and inevitably sink to new heights of shallowness, both in our character and in our ministry endeavors.

Living this way with God, with ourselves, with our families, with our colleagues, and through the application/interview processes of our lives, will most surely hold us back, train our hearts to believe that secrets are okay, and subtly deceive us into believing the lie that the unhealthy or ungodly patterns of our lives aren't real if they can be consistently covered up or ignored.

And of course, nothing could be further from the truth. As Frederick Buechner wrote in his book Telling Secrets, "Each of us not only has our secrets, we are our secrets."

God's best to you as you begin this hew chapter of life and ministry. I'll also let you know where I land. Good night and Godspeed.



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