Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Leggo My Ego

It has taken awhile to get it through my thick head, but I’m finally coming to terms with the length of the road toward healing and transformation. For the last three months of my life and ministry my refrain has been taking my ego offline. At first it seemed a relatively straightforward affair. In the familiarity of my home and my ministry I was able to navigate this change with great confidence. All seemed to go well. Then came our Annual Conference session…I was prepared to stay focused on taking my ego out of the equation and intentionally living into a ministry of renewal rather than reformation. What I was unprepared for was the strength of the pull into the institutional mentality of the Conference. I felt sucked back into old mindsets of the shortcomings of the institution and the need for reformation. In spite of my best efforts, my ego went for a swim in these dark and murky waters. In the process, I got hurt and frustrated in all the ways that I tried to avoid. I felt angry. I felt a deep sense of entitlement. I felt a deep frustration with an ego driven assessment of the short sighted opinions of others. I definitely need to repent.

A week of vacation in a warm, tropical location helped to decompress the anger, hurt and frustration and to lick the wounds of not being as far along the journey as I thought I was. I discovered that life in the institution demands a strength and vigilance that is seldom needed in the local church. The experienced also reinforced for me the counter productivity that often goes hand in hand with heavily invested and competing egos. In the healing of that week of vacation I began to experience new power in not simply focusing on the removal of ego but the intentional focus on the presence of Christ.

This focus came, as is often the case, in God’s time. Two days after returning from vacation I embarked on a 10 mission trip with 5 other adults and 20 Senior High youth. If there was ever a time and a need to take one’s ego off line, it was then. I love working with youth (for more than 25 years) and I’ve been taking this mission trip since I graduated from Seminary, but this particular trip proved to be different. With so many young and developing egos stretching and flexing new muscles there would have been plenty of opportunities for a heavily invested ego to do battle. Only when I turned my attention to Christ present in our midst and in each of the youth and away from my own ego, my own needs and my own need to be right did I realize a new richness of relationship and possibility for growth in faith that could come for my self and for these youth. Times of potential conflict became times of learning and growth. I hope and pray that I was able to model a different picture of faith, authority and leadership. I pray for the grace and strength to continue to build on what I’ve begun with these relationships.

The experiences of the last month are also lengthening my view of time and instilling in me the patience to walk this road the requisite one step at a time. This has become a corollary for me. Just as I learned of silence as the fullness of God not the absence of sound, I’m learning that faithful discipleship is the fullness of Christ rather than merely the absence of ego.