by Brandon A. Cox:
I don’t always like the truth. That doesn’t mean there’s something wrong with truth. It means there’s something deficient in me.
What I do like… is comfort. I like to feel like things are okay. And there’s at least a 70% chance you’re like me in this way.
The ancient Israelites were like that, too. God sent Amos to stir them up and alert them to the dire situation they were in. He cracked through their obliviousness with this warning:
What sorrow awaits you who lounge in luxury in Jerusalem, and you who feel secure in Samaria.
The King James reads, “Woe to you who are at ease in Zion…”
Amos continues by clarifying the problem in their thinking…
You push away every thought of coming disaster, but your actions only bring the day of judgment closer.
Amos essentially spells out a simple formula for us to follow in life…
Ignore our shortcomings… hasten the consequences of them.
I’ve often been guilty of this on multiple levels.
On a personal level, I often want to focus on how far I’ve come by looking back in celebration. Celebrating past successes is certainly okay, unless we use it as a distraction from the progress we need to make and the path that lies ahead.
On a professional level, it’s far too easy to look around and find competitors or colleagues that I can match skills and expertise against and begin to feel that I can coast if I’m at least above average.
On an organizational level, I often do my team a disservice by focusing on our accomplishments while ignoring the pieces and pockets of our work that really need revitalization.
What we typically do is wait for the crisis to come. When the crash occurs, that’s when we acknowledge that we’ve been content where we should have been concerned.
A brutal, self-evaluation can be quite powerful, especially when we do it before the crisis point comes. Essentially, when we procrastinate about being honest with ourselves, we miss out on opportunities to grow. It’s comfortable, for now, but a reckoning is coming.
It’s far better to break life down into more manageable pieces and conduct self-evaluations on a more regular basis.
Instead of waiting months or years to face the truth, what if we built the practice of introspection into our daily prayer and meditation time? What if we invited the input of close friends and loved ones and gave them permission to point out concerns? What if we received regular leadership coaching with built-in accountability? What if we tracked our progress in the moment?
Nobody likes the annual review at work. Why? Because we know things have been building and our passive aggressive bosses are about to get their chance to vent what they’ve been unwilling to share with us for the last twelve months. We do the same to ourselves, however.
This is not a challenge to think negatively about yourself. I’m a big believer in being a big believer in the potential we all possess for greatness and success. I believe God wired you to succeed and gave you all that you need, spiritually, to grow by leaps and bounds.
But our positivity needs to be tempered with enough realism to diagnose the factors that hold us back from growth.
Within our church’s staff, we often ask the question, how’s your life? Among close friends, I sometimes ask, how’s your soul? And in our small groups, we try to get to the heart of how’s it really going?
Turn those questions back to yourself.
How are you, really? How’s your soul? How’s your life? Your marriage? Your leadership? Your mental, emotional, and physical health?
Having evaluated yourself with brutal honesty, you can know that God is for you! He is determined to finish the work of growing and maturity you. You get to go forward! You get the privilege of experiencing new levels of personal development.
You get closer to the prize… because you were honest.