Many of us listen to lies that we really shouldn’t ever believe. The following are five examples.
1. You are not worth very much. This message may have had its beginning with a harsh father or an overpowering uncle. Years ago in Kansas City, I heard a father next door scream at his five-year-old. He then began to tell her how sorry and worthless she was, using vile, degrading language. Years later, I wonder about the memories that this young adult harbors. Perhaps it is the bully who communicates to you just how stupid you are and treats you with hostility and contempt. These are all lies. The truth is that you are precious in the eyes of God, created in his image. You are deeply loved by God.
2. Your past mistakes disqualify you from God ever choosing to work through you. The evil one would like for you to believe that no one is like you. No one has made the mistakes you have. No good person is ever tempted the way you are. You may think, “What is wrong with me? Surely no other person is like me.” Yet, God’s grace is greater than the week you spent in jail, greater than the drug issues you had in the past, greater than the affair you had five years ago. God’s forgiveness is larger than any failure in your past. Your past does not have to define you for the rest of your life. Your past may be littered with rebellion and sin. Yet, through his powerful forgiveness and grace as he sees your brokenness, God can use you in the future.
Some years ago, a friend of mine said to me after a certain young minister preached, “Well, we are certainly not lacking any confidence are we?”
I understand what my friend meant. This young minister certainly did not appear uneasy. In fact, his manner, his body language, and his words indicated that if anything, he was quite self-assured. He had a certain cockiness that some thought was funny. He spoke way beyond his experiences and his years. It was awkward and almost embarrassing. There was a certainty and self-assuredness that communicated that he really had not experienced much of life.
Fortunately, I can point to a number of young ministers with a very different spirit. I know young ministers who love Scripture, are passionate for the Lord, and who exude humility as they talk about the human condition. These young ministers are likely to ask others for their counsel and input regarding situations and chapters in life they have never experienced.
They do not have an unhealthy self-consciousness which seems to be preoccupied with appearance, image, style, etc. Rather, these ministers seem to have a very healthy God-consciousness that goes way beyond referring to Jesus, talking about spiritual formation, etc.
When they preach, they call attention to Jesus instead of themselves.
May their tribe increase.
I was a young minister. I had a few appointments and a few calls to return. I had a lunch meeting scheduled that day. For some reason, in those years, I thought that the busier I was, the more I was accomplishing. Decades later, as I think about my motives for this pace of ministry, this was partially a desire to be effective. I suspect there were also some dark motives related to my ego.
In his fine book, An Unhurried Life (p. 8), Alan Fadling writes:
As I’ve traveled this journey, a few words of counsel have guided me. I remember reading what John Ortberg was told during a season of ministry transition in his life: “You must ruthlessly eliminate hurry from your life.” (John Ortberg, The Life You’ve Always Wanted, p. 81). Connecting ruthlessness and unhurry has always been a fruitful piece of spiritual direction for me. In the Life You’ve Always Wanted (p. 84), Ortberg suggests that “hurry is not just a disordered schedule. Hurry is a disordered heart.” And I agree. When I’m talking about hurried and unhurried, I’m not just talking about miles per hour, I’m talking about the anxious, driven frantic heart.