group coffee

This excerpt comes from Chapter 9 in the book.

I’ve mentioned the pressure we felt from others in regards to our financial situation. Frankly, that has always been one of my greatest tests. Not the finances, per se, but the interaction with people who think differently from me, challenge me, rub me the wrong way, and even hurt me.

I’ve come to realize it all boils down to my own personal insecurities.

I’m simply not secure enough in the Father’s generous love to allow people to disagree with, or challenge, me. Bells go off, my defenses go up, and I protect my territory.

It’s the exact opposite to how Jesus approached life.

It’s not that Jesus didn’t directly deal with challenging people and situations. The fact is that he never did so out of insecurity. He never did so to pushback against those who stood against him, all to somehow level the playing field. He was genuinely rooted in reliance upon the goodness of his Father whom he deeply trusted. That’s the mind-boggling reality of Gethsemane and a bloodied crucifixion.

I simply don’t trust the Father that well so I end up employing battlefield tactics.

Upon arriving in Belgium, we immediately jumped in with a multi-cultural team of leaders: a Belgian, a South African, a Nigerian, and a Fijian. They were also either business leaders or diplomats. It was somewhat daunting to sit at the table with this team.

In due time, I realized there were perspectives being brought to the table that were very different from mine. Honestly, before arriving, I had begun to sense it would be that way. Therefore, I had readied myself on how I might handle differing ideas and views. I now believe this allowed me to assume a heart that was unwilling to listen to others.

This didn’t saturate my every thought and conversation but it was subversively at work. Our ideas were diverse in regards to outreach, finances, worship, Sunday gatherings, and a whole host of other items. Rather than seeing a handful of amazingly different folk as an asset and an opportunity to embrace, I believed our diversity was a challenge to overcome.

Again, I was too insecure to see the beauty of it all, to listen and learn before leading. It’s so easy for me to believe my way is the best, that others are missing important parts of the equation, and that I have those missing parts. This has also been problematic in my relationship with God’s greatest gift to me, my wife.

In the end, my stubborn adherence to my perspective resulted in pushing one of the leaders on the team—perhaps our greatest strength—away. I hope I have learned from that mistake.

As mentioned earlier, one of the significant challenges with our leadership team were the regular changes in team members. The diversity and constant modifications to the team was often an exhausting experience. Many times I would think we had finally reached a place of consistency and togetherness, then it was time for another player to move on.

At that point, it was easy to grumble. I suppose if the Lord had kept a record of my complaints, they would have outnumbered that of the Israelites wandering in the wilderness.

As time progressed, I did learn from some of my mistakes. I specifically remember one day as I brought my complaints before the Lord, he reminded me of a very significant passage: Exodus 4, where we find Moses in a little bartering exercise with the Lord. God wants to utilize him as Israel’s liberator, but Moses had a litany of excuses that came in the form of questions.

At one point, God asks his own question: “What is that in your hand” (Exod 4:2)?

I felt that God was clearly addressing me with the same question.

God’s gift was with me, right under my nose, but I was too focused on what I thought was missing. He graciously reminded me that these leaders, whatever their diverse and differing views, were a good gift from God. I look back with deep gratitude for each and every one of them.

From that point forward, with that God-moment in mind, and learning from my missteps, I looked to harness the gifts of leadership in our midst. It meant an adjustment had to be made. Evaluation of leadership potential had to be abridged. We had to be together on a few central tenets, allowing space for diversity around secondary issues. This was a whole new ballgame to be played and it only took three and a half years for it to get through. If God was truly in it, he was going to give wisdom in adapting to our context.