In reflecting on Raniero Cantalamessa's book, The Mystery of God's Word, I have been wondering about what it means to "die to self" and then be "born again in Christ".
I mean, how dead do you need to be?
I know that sounds a little irrelgious, or disrespectful, but as I reflect on the last 16 years of ministry, one of dominant themes I can identify has been the demands of, well, everybody, that I, "die faster". It's as if Jesus whispers "Die unto me", and then the community of faith, in one form or fashion sometimes says, or sings, or yells "Yeah, and can you do it a little faster?". Whether it was in my appearance, or preaching prep and delivery, leadership ability, emotional stability and availability, fiscal administration (personal or corporate), organizational ability, and general maturity, pretty much since the first day I stepped into the office at Shawnee back in 1991, "die faster" has been a non-stop, unrelenting theme.
I think it's beginning to kill me.
Here's the deal... I know that over time more is demanded of those who can prove they can take care of a little. That's reality for all of us. Once you were a resident, then you were a doc, and now you're a partner. Once you busted your tail building a client base, and now others are coming to you to find out how you did it. Once you interned with a public defender, and now you're a partner with a fiduciary responsibility to the company. One day you're just two dumb kids in love, and the next you are a guiding force for children who call you Dad. That's life, and that's how it works.
But how, in a way that doesn't sound like whining, do you say to people who are getting a little too personal, and a little too pushy, and little too demanding, "Slow down"?
And, in the process of all this change and evolution, how much of yourself do you have to sacrifice in order to appease everyone and their vision of who you should be?
This should be a major question that every Christian.... nay every human being... should be asking. What does "becoming what you were created to be" really mean? Do you have to lose your sense of humor in the process? Do you have to watch every little thing you say and do, to be as non-confrontational or non-controversial as possible? At some point, do you totally sublimate that which you like, or enjoy, just because someone else thinks it's the right thing to do?
Is that the life Christ calls us to?
I bring this up because I think I probably have a lot of unresolved anger that's come out of a professional life where "if you only did/were/said (fill in the blank)" was a part of everyday life, and a sense that maybe I can't break out of a mold where everyone else dictates who and what I'm becoming. A situation so confusing at times, that I can't discern where God is leading this, or where I am simply becoming part of a system I believe is deeply flawed.