Wednesday, August 28, 2013

The Golden Calf

Earlier today I had a bit of free time, so I pulled out my guitar and decided to go through my file of old worship music. I didn't really plan for it to be a worship session, but, in an impromptu way, it became one.

This evening, as I was spending time talking with God, I thanked Him for that opportunity, commenting that it had been a while since I'd done that and that it was a blessing in surprise. As I was praying, I was praying over a missions trip application I'd sent in (somewhat rashly, perhaps), asking for clarity on whether or not that's what God wanted me to be doing and what my initial, base motivation for applying was. From there we sidetracked onto my desire and plans for the future.

For those of you who might not be aware, (basically anyone whom I haven't met in person and spoken with for any length of time) I wish to serve as a missionary doctor in Kyrgyzstan. It started in grade 9 as simply a call to serve as a missionary there, but, as I pursued studies in biology and became enamoured with medicine, that call was gradually refined to medical missions. I fought that call for a year as a college freshman, denying the call to serve as a missionary and being set on working in the US as your everyday paediatrician, but God roped me back in line.

Returning to tonight's discussion with God, a short while after praying over the missions trip application, giving it over to Him to work according to His will and desires, and thanking Him for the blessing of that smaller worship time God asked me a small question:

"What if I sent you to Kyrgyzstan as James?" 

That question stopped me dead in my tracks. My priorities had become skewed. Over the last year or so, everything has become med school this, GPA that, MCAT the other thing, etc. I had become so focused on the doctor/medical missionary title aspect that I had, to quote the Newsboys, "lost the plot." I had, in a way, made an idol out of my calling. I had taken my calling, morphed it into an object of my desire. and made it about me. When people asked me what I wanted to do with my life, I paraded this calling that I wanted to do. It was my wish and desire and I began to leave God out of it except to pray and ask that He make it happen.

I sat for a minute, pondering this question, coming to this realization and how I had fallen, how I had lost sight of the goal. I shifted, slowly, imperceptibly, from desiring to serve God with my passions and skills to wanting to fulfill my goal and plan to honour God.

You might say, "But that's not a bad thing, you're wanting to honour God."

Look at the way it's worded. What is my motivation? What is secondary? Is it God or me?

All you who have eyes to see these words, read! Examine your life, your calling, your goals. See my failure and learn from it. Pray over it. Pray that you would remain in or return to your first love and examine yourself. Don't doubt or doublethink, just examine. Don't start jumping at shadows of selfish desire. Don't begin glossing over your errors and looking the other way. Be reasonable. Seek the wisdom and discernment of God.

"Seek First the Kingdom of God and its righteousness, and all these things will be added to you." - Matthew 6:33

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Modern Major General

"I am the very model of a modern major general,
I've information vegetable, animal, and mineral,
I know the kings of England and I quote the facts historical
From Marathon to Waterloo in order categorical..."

An interesting song, this. Here, we have a man proudly proclaiming his personage a paragon amongst peers. He proceeds to recount numberless feats and abilities, while boasting his vast stores of knowledge. He puts himself on a dais for other major generals and lesser-ranked men to admire.

It's kind of like what we shouldn't be doing as Christian leaders. Paul, the man often held as preeminent pastor (tough he may cringe at the title) wrote to the church at Corinth: 
"God has Chosen what is insignificant and despised in the world - what is viewed as noting - to bring to nothing what is viewed as something, so that no one can boast in His presence. But it is from Him that you are in Christ Jesus, who became God-given wisdom for us - our righteousness, sanctification and redemption, in order that, as it is written: 'The one who boasts must boast in the Lord.'" 1 Cor 1:28-31 (HCSB)
Solomon wrote:
"He mocks those who mock. but gives grace to the humble." Prov 3:34 (HCSB)
Paul, also in his first letter to the Corinthians, gave example of the apostles humility in an excerpt slightly too long to transcribe.

I don't know about you, but I'm starting to get the idea that humility, not pride, is the proper mindset for a Christian leader. After all, did Christ not wash the grimy feet of His disciples on the evening of the last supper?

So why, then, is pride something to be avoided?

  • Pride turns the focus from God to self.
  • Pride corrupts and takes preeminence over other motives. (e.g, bettering the living situation of a poor family becomes a show for acclaim.)
  • Pride places others on a subordinate level.
I could continue, but it's late and I think these three highlight my point nicely as counterpoints to Christ and the apostles who:
  • Pointed the crowds to God,
  • Set aside their desire for praise and acknowledgement for the goal of furthering the Gospel and the salvation of mankind.
  • Placed others as equals with, if not higher than, themselves.
So, looking at leadership, we should not be modeling ourselves after this modern major general, but rather:
"Make your attitude that of Christ Jesus,
Who, existing in the form of God, did not consider equality with god as something to be used for His own advantage. Instead He emptied Himself by assuming the form of a slave, taking on the likeness of men. And when He had come as a man in His eternal form, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death - even to death on a cross..."
Phil 2:5-8 (HCSB)