|Not Ryan McCarty|
When I started out in youth ministry, my senior minister set me up with a mentor. His name is Ryan McCarty. Ryan is one of the biggest, strongest men I’ve ever been around. I saw Ryan play dodgeball once at a large youth retreat. It was truly terrifying.
The high school boys are running like frantic chipmunks around a tennis court, with Ryan standing in the middle of his team, a menacing figure, just waiting for the opposition to run out of ammo. You can tell he's a seasoned dodgeball vet. Unfortunately for the kids, he's also college baseball vet.
When the right moment comes, Ryan takes a full pitcher-style windup. Not the short windup used when a runner is on base, a full wind up. When he lets the ball fly, you hear the following sequence of sounds: a rush of wind.......thud.......squeal.......sadistic laughter of crowd. These aren’t those wimpy gator balls either, these are the full-blown, playground kickballs. He throws the ball so hard it doesn’t make a bounce sound upon impact. It literally just thuds.
Since I wasn’t playing against him, it was freaking awesome!
I haven’t seen Ryan in a while, but the things I remember even more clearly than his dodgeball skills were his wisdom and love for God. The wisest thing he ever told me was that the key to success isn’t talent or luck. The key to success is to watch where God is moving, and make sure you are there.
Be where God is working.
Enter Pride, Stage Right
1 Corinthians 13:4 says, “ . . . Love is not . . .boastful or proud”(NLT).
While this passage may seem pretty cut and dry, you have to look closer to really get it. The Corinthian church was a prideful group. Paul used The verb physioō to describe their heart condition. The word is only used seven times in the New Testament. Six of the seven times, it’s used to describe the Corinthian church (source: Walvoord, J. F., Zuck, R. B., & Dallas Theological Seminary. The Bible knowledge commentary : An exposition of the scriptures, 1983).
The pride that paul was addressing wasn’t their pride for their city, or the pride they had because of their possessions or social standing, rather he was concerned with their spiritual pride. Because of their religious background, the Corinthians were especially interested in the spiritual gift of speaking in tongues*. In the Pagan religion, a similar experience was a sign that one was closer to the gods than another, and was practiced by oracles. Naturally, the Corinthians assumed that those who were speaking in tongues were more spiritual and closer to God than those who were not. With their misunderstanding came a great deal of misplaced pride (source: Richards, L., & Richards, L. O. (1987). The teacher's commentary (858). Wheaton, Ill.: Victor Books.).
The Finishing Number
Fathers who are Christ Followers see God doing something they can help with and go there. We suffer from a misunderstanding resulting in our own spiritual pride. Due to our cultural heritage, in the back our minds we think what we are up to is more important than anything other family members are doing. I see God working over there. I see my gifts might be of service, so I go there. We assume that what God wants to do through us individually is the same as what God wants to do with everyone else in our family. The two are not the same. Sadly, sometimes we even articulate this attitude to our loved ones.
I know this happens, because that is the exact attitude I had for years, and I believe this is the same practice that destroys the spiritual formation of many pastors’ kids and wives.
Each person in our family is uniquely gifted by God. Strong leaders do not use all available resources for their own projects, but spread out the resources to raise the ceiling for their followers. God wins when we teach our children and wives their giftedness and help them use it - to see where God is working and wants to use them, and get them there. When my entire family’s energy is focused on my calling, my pride and self-centeredness is stifling everyone else.
Just because we are the leaders of the family does not mean that we are spiritually superior, and it does not mean that our calling is any more important than the calling of even the smallest of our kids. Every person is a chid of God and uniquely gifted to equip and extend the Kingdom.
Love is not boastful or proud.
Thoughts? Leave them in the comment box below.
*Speaking in tongues is a very controversial topic, and is not the subject of this article. Please do not read into this any more than what is written for the sake of unification.