A prevalent counterfeit for love is the god of "keeping the peace", and "not hurting anyone's feelings". How often do you shrink from saying what you really think to someone you care about because you don't want to upset them?
M. Scott Peck, author of "The Road Less Traveled" drew my attention to this neurotic behavior in relationships that is actually more hatred than loving. By definition love is willing to pay a price for the best interest of another, even if that means upset feelings or rejection.
I argue with God about this on a regular basis. Don't worry, He wins.
Before our second session with a couple we learned from the wife that the husband was behaving in a very untrustworthy manner. He'd stayed out an entire night w/out calling, and eventually admitted an episode of binge-drinking to "deal with stress". What had begun as ministry of marriage coaching to this couple to "improve their communication" was now a crisis situation with their marriage at stake. I prayed about it for direction, and wasn't surprised by Father's direction, "Go hard at him with the truth", I heard. Okay, Papa, but what if it upsets him, makes him mad? "That's my problem, not yours. The best way you can love him is to give him opportunity to feel godly sorrow that leads to repentance and life."
I told Jill to brace herself. "The first part of this session is not going to be easy."
Truth spoken in love, so that we might all grow up into the Head, who is Christ. Easily said. So why does it cause butterflies?
"We have two questions" I said to begin the session. "Is coaching the best approach to help you with your marriage, and do you have enough character to deal with and respond to truth in a way that will lead to godly sorrow, repentance and life for you, your marriage and your children? Are you going to come clean to embrace today as the first day of the rest of your life following Christ, and living as a godly husband and father, or is this the beginning of a story of tragedy?" Okay, maybe three questions...
He was dead to rights, and he knew it. After a bit of self-flagellation, he got the grace of truth, and asked help from us and his wife to become the man God wants him to be. So far, it's going well...one day at a time, one conversation at a time (with God, his wife and us).
One of the first things I did was to offer myself on a daily basis to connect around scripture. Do you recall Rich Mullin's lyrics about Scripture, "I did not make it, no, it is making me." The word of God is living and active..."All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work" (II Timothy 3:16, NIV). It is never a mistake to dig into Scripture to let God speak for Himself.
There are 31 chapters in Proverbs. Every day this man and I read the chapter that corresponds with the day of the month (today is the 19th, so chapter 19), independently. Then we SOAP it (Bible study method of Men's fellowship, Waterboyz for Jesus, www.waterboyz.org).
S - read the Scripture, expecting God to speak to you from at least one verse. After reading and praying over it, pick the verse He has brought out to you, and write it down.
O - Observe what is happening in the verse
A - Application. Pray for how God would have you to apply the insight and learning from the verse He is bringing to your attention.
P - Prayer. Write a prayer to God about what you have learned and to help you to apply to your life.
S - Proverbs 19:21 Many are the plans in a man's heart, but it it the Lord's purpose that prevails.
O - It is natural to have many desires, and even to try to plan things...ways to do the Lord's work, but ultimately, He blesses and furthers only the things that are in alignment with His purposes.
A - I want to align my activity with the Lord's plans. I don't want to do things that are good ideas to me, but not part of God's purposes.
P - Lord, please help me to line my life up with your purposes and your timing. I want to be part of what you are doing, and to live fully according to your plans for my life to serve others. In Jesus' Name. Amen.
For the time being (until this gentleman establishes a broader circle of support, encouragement and accountability), he calls me at an agreed on time, every day to share about a verse he SOAPed. During our chat he shares about what the Lord is teaching him, how he is convicting him, and how He is responding to Jesus, the ONE who is FULL of Grace and Truth. Cool, huh?
What to do that next time someone you care about is headed down a destructive path?
1. Pray for how Jesus would have you to engage them. Don't be surprised if He directs you to speak truth in love, clearly, candidly, pointedly.
2. Introduce the conversation as the most loving way to address the situation, and make sure they know that you are doing Father's bidding per your prayer over them.
3. Trust the Lord to give you the words to speak, grace to listen, and clear ideas about how to practically support and encourage your brother sister on a path of restoration and growth.
4. Walk it out. Be faithful to your promise to be alongside.
5. Look for opportunities to help them to expand their circle of supportive, encouraging and accountable relationships.
Friends, I share this out of the Joy I am experiencing as a watch a man walk away from the cliff, and toward Jesus to be the man God made Him to be. May He put such on your path, or use these ideas to help you to do well by someone He has on your path.
Forgetting what is behind, and straining toward what is ahead,
Copyright 2009 Jeffrey J. Williams | Grace & Truth Relationship Education | Germantown | MD | 20876 301.515.1218, Jeff.GTRE@gmail.com
*Jeff Williams is a certified Christian Coach specializing in marriage and family. He also coaches mission and ministry leaders for focus, purpose and leadership growth. Write or call for complementary consultation or for speaking and teaching.
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