So many of us struggle with feelings of inadequacy or guilt; like so many others know more or are better Christians than we are. We may struggle with how to respond to them if they come across as if they are always right and that we are in the wrong if we don’t follow their opinions – even if those opinions have NOTHING to do with obedience to the Lord and the Word. We put them on a pedestal (or they do) as “mature” Christians and struggle with wanting to do things our way just because we like it or it works for us. We feel as if they MUST be right simply because they seem so mature (but mostly because they are so verbal about it). So, here are some of my thoughts on this topic.
1) I used to be a “-people who come ACROSS in their speech as if they are always right even if they don’t think that and it never crosses their minds that others are deferring to their opinions?” kind of person. If I said, “I eat whole wheat bread” it came across as if others were in sin if they didn’t, although I had NO idea that it came over that way; nor was it EVER my intention to send that message. It was just the way I said things. Kevin, bless his pea-picking heart, really helped me adjust HOW I said things to give others the grace I was feeling in my heart. By the way, this way of speech was a leftover vestige of my very critical spirit that God dealt with even earlier than this. Sometimes getting to understand the heart of this person will help you know if they have a heart issue or simply a poor speech pattern that can be changed.
2) MATURE Christians do not either believe this or come across this way. Teen-age Christians do. Ever notice that many saints, when they have been saved 8-15 (sometimes 20) years have a self-righteous attitude and a hardness toward different decisions of others? Kevin and I call this the “intolerance of youth”. They have been saved long enough to understand the value and profit of obedience but not long enough to learn how to allow others to follow the Spirit in those grey areas. These are also the years when there is a tendency for falling into sin if they are placed into leadership situations without someone to disciple and guide them. But that is another story.
3) It DOESN’T make you a good follower if you go along with what they say – it makes you a good follower of MEN, but that is not what you were called to. We are called to be God Pleasers, not men pleasers. This is probably one of the hardest and longest lessons we learn as believers – and probably it is only the cantankerousness of old age that helps us get past it before we die!! I still struggle with this, although less and less.
4) Kevin shared this with me a number of years ago when he was REALLY struggling with an overbearing man in a leadership situation (not Christian) over him. Kevin really disagreed with some of his views but felt compelled (due to the man’s leadership) to follow what he said. Then the Lord spoke to him and showed him that Kevin had NO RIGHT to follow anyone but the Lord, that Kevin BELONGED to God!! Now, in the specific area where this man has authority, Kevin could follow (and even then only insofar as the following did not violate scripture), but in every other area Kevin’s authority was God alone! What freedom this brought to him!!!! So, for example, in the manner of which way to place the TP roll, no other Christian has any God-given authority in your life (except your husband) concerning this and therefore you are only to follow God in this. And if God is silent about it (and I don’t recall any scriptures about this one ) He gives you FREEDOM to make your own choices. But you are NOT free to give God’s authority over your life to another person!
5) Grace. Learning to give grace to others is quite probably the greatest sign of spiritual maturity that I know of. We all seek to walk in grace before God but it is so easy for us to require legalism of others – and the laws we require them to follow are often our own. But when we truly come to understand how God leads us each differently, that His character and beauty is expressed uniquely in each of His children, we long to see those differences in others and actually rejoice in it! The more we understand of grace, the more we long for it in our lives and the more we learn to extend it to others.
by Kate Megill (c) 2010