Friday, August 6, 2010

My Paradigm Shift

Our trip to Poland was refreshing and exhausting all at the same time. Yesterday we made our way back to France, but poor Graham spent the entire trip home battling a very painful stomach virus. Chandler commented (somewhere between the third and fourth mix-up of the day, while we were in YET another line trying to get our itinerary sorted out), “I hope nobody takes this the wrong way, but I am really SICK of traveling.” David and I were in our own states of fatigue, but holding it together for the sakes of our boys, who were clearly being troopers of their own. Needless to say, sleep came easily last night.

This morning I am going to hit the laundromat with a mountain of dirty clothes while David tackles step number 43 of the 87 step process required to obtain a cell phone in France. Living in Europe can be so glamorous…and then there are days like this!

But before I decide which book I am going to read while I wait for the rinse cycle, I thought I would share with you my BIG take-away from the conference in Poland. It isn’t earth-shattering, but it is a major paradigm shift for me. After an amazing teaching on the parable of the talents, our speaker asked, “What is God expecting you to do this year?”

It was one of those moments when I knew the answer as soon as the question was asked. This year God expects me to learn, to follow, and to listen. Do you see how contrary those things are to the things I have been doing? I have spent the past few years in ministry teaching, leading, and speaking. Now the teacher must learn, the leader must follow, and the speaker must listen.

I have often lamented the fact that there is no such thing as a Follower-ship Conference. Leadership is taught all of the time, but we are rarely taught how to be good followers—even though before ALL else we are supposed to be followers of Jesus.

I feel the gentle but firm tug of the Holy Spirit, reining me in, slowing me down, and turning my head. He is inviting me to move from my comfortable place in the front of life’s classroom to a small desk in the midst of a giant lecture hall. I am sensing a need to pack all my knowledge and experience away for a season—don’t worry, it will keep—and open a fresh spiral notebook, expectant.

I must change my entire approach to life. I can no longer filter events, insights, and information through the sieve of a mind that is called to teach and lead others. Right now I need to be a sponge, for I have no way of knowing how God wants to use the events, insights, and information that He has planned for me to experience in the upcoming year. I do know that He only allows us to be sponges for a time. Eventually, He plans to wring us out.

Please do not misunderstand. I do not think that roles of teacher and learner are mutually exclusive of one another. In fact, they are two sides of the same coin. God is asking me to flip the coin for a while, allowing the role of learner to dominate. I just hope I can do it.

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