Thursday, December 04, 2008



In the struggle to "get over yourself" it's important to examine what I call the four clanging cymbals. A clanging cymbal is when what you say and do is absent the love of Jesus and therefore is a cymbal that doesn't make a certain and attractive sound, but an offensive, clanging sound. The first clanging cymbal was self-doubt. Today's clanging cymbal is being SELF-DIRECTED.

As I have often said, most of my life I have lived life my way for Jesus. I was definitely the leader. I didn't have a handle on what it might mean to wait for Jesus to lead out so I could follow. In other words, I struggled with and was losing the battle over being self-directed.

What I've come to realize is that God wants us to be ON CALL to do significant things for Him-even showing up for divine appointments. But instead of being on call, the natural tendency is to live our lives in a position of not being able to hear His call at all-busy signals, disconnections, interference, off the hook or just allowing our machines to answer. Since we haven't been positioned to hear from God or be on call with Him, the result is confusion. Confusion leads to conformity-going along with the crowd-and then comes a sense of complacency-going it alone.

So, the clanging cymbal of being self-directed is based upon two diversions-going along with the crowd and going it alone. Going along with the crowd means that you have no personal convictions or standards worth dying for. Worse than that, you have very little to personally and uniquely live for. Going it alone necessarily emerges out of going along with the crowd. You see, going along with the crowd is a way of avoiding any personal interaction and relatedness. You simply move the way the wind seems to be blowing at the moment without much thought on your part. So, you are already alone.

Do you see the inevitable outcome in your life if you are always going along with the crowd and going it alone? You have no one else (personally) to rely on. You are all alone and therefore self-reliant. This is why people like to claim they are self-made, but when I hear this I am tempted to say, "You knocked off too soon!" There is so much more to living than limiting yourself to being self-reliant and self-directed. And when you are self-directed, it's too easy to be driven by people, places and things that limit your drive and fulfillment in life.

SELF-DOUBT was countered by faith and love. The problem of being SELF-DIRECTED can be countered by two qualities as well. The first is virtue. This is the quality that was to be first added to your faith. Virtue is making an initial commitment to follow-through on your faith. It's a personal commitment to stand alone on your own two feet-to think for yourself!

The second quality is brotherly kindness. You are to stand alone on your own two feet, living within yourself, as you learn to walk with Jesus, but you cannot go it alone and expect to be satisfied with your life. There is a great need in your life to not only walk with Jesus, but to walk with others. You need their support and they need yours. In a real sense you become the answer to one another's prayers as you walk through life together.

By the way, this is what's at the core of Jesus' teaching on what the greatest commandment is. When asked to give His opinion on naming the greatest commandment, Jesus was unable to isolate it to just one. The reason for the difficulty is that the greatest commandment must be two-fold-first, to love God with all your heart, and second, to love your neighbor as yourself. To love God with all your heart is to focus on what He uniquely wants to do with you-to fully express the message of God, which is your purpose in life. You can't do this and go along with the crowd.

To love your neighbor as yourself requires that you don't go it alone in life. You need the community of family and friends to fully do life together. Note in this case, if you don't love yourself, your neighbor is in trouble. When you can love yourself, you are better able to love others. A great reminder of this occurs before takeoff on every airliner: Put your oxygen mask on first, and then you can help your children with theirs.

For me, virtue and brotherly kindness are the best counters to the problem of being self-directed and these two qualities are best summed up in how you see Jesus.

FIRST-You must see Jesus in you! This is a sensing of His presence in you. When you are aware of Jesus walking with you and residing in you, it's easier to seek Him out for His direction. Knowing Jesus is in you gives you a confidence to stand on your own two feet-to not go along with the crowd, because you know He is in you. You also know you are not alone.

SECOND-You must see Jesus with you! This is a sensing of His power with you. Because Jesus is with you, you can count on His empowerment in your life. In a very real sense, as you connect with others and touch them, you are being Jesus to them. Just as Jesus took on flesh and became man, you are now the flesh Jesus is taking on. Jesus is in and with you! We are not to give away some message to the world, trying to get others to believe it; we are to give Jesus away, for He is the Gospel.

THIRD-You must see Jesus in others! This is a sensing of His potential of being in and with others as He is with you. Jesus gives us the best example here, too. Jesus never saw a prostitute; He saw a woman deeply hurt in need of inner healing with the possibility of being free. Jesus saw something of great value in the maligned tax collector by the name of Zaccheus and invited Himself to go to lunch with him. Jesus saw something special in the woman at the well who had several husbands and the man she was living with was not yet her husband. What's interesting is that Jesus is attractive to so many who are in need and I think it's because of the way He looked at them and welcomed them. He was so safe in an unsafe world.

You have a choice. You can choose to be self-directed where it's all about you or you can choose to be directed by Jesus. He will direct you to stand on your own two feet with confidence (that's virtue), not going along with the crowd and He will lead you into relationship with others where you can experience brotherly love to counter going it alone.

The clanging cymbal of being self-directed can only be countered by being tied to Jesus while touching people-that's virtue and brotherly love. To sum it up, think in terms of: 1. Practicing the presence of Jesus in you! 2. Practicing the power of Jesus with you! 3. Practicing the potential of Jesus in others!

Then, you'll know Jesus is supernaturally directing you, where you will find freedom and infinite possibilities. Stick with being self-directed and you will be limited to your self.