When Will I Learn?
February 23, 2021
“For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness, and to goodness, knowledge; and to your knowledge, self-control; and to your self-control, perseverance; and to your perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love” (2 Peter 1:5-7, NIV).
I was overwhelmed this week with multiple 11-12-hour days and still behind. At the end of one such day an administrative assistant popped in my office and handed me a stack of charts to complete. I was frustrated at the inappropriateness of the task, not at her. Today, our service supervisor sat me down with the concern that I had not been kind to the admin. I apologized immediately and told her I needed to better separate my displeasure toward circumstances from the persons who hand me the circumstances.
This was not the first time, or even the 10th time, I‘ve had to apologize during my career for a lack of kindness when I was overwhelmed and pressured, all unintentional, but all painful to the ones who were hurt by my attitude.
As followers of Christ, we love the people we hurt. We know that life is “not about me.” We know that the Jesus living through us may be the only Jesus that others see. And yet, we are human and have limits to our emotional capacity and sometimes hurt people when we push past that limit.
What to do? I’m no expert, but I suspect there are ways I should change:
- Slow down. I have always been one to believe that fast, hard work is usually good for the glory of God. I have never intentionally built margin into my life, though Dr. Richard Swenson has warned me about this for years. One guiding principle I need to consider when I am moving too fast: if my pace is making me unkind, I am moving too fast and need to slow down—or I’m doing too much and need to let go.
- Focus on the moment. Focus on the person in that moment. I hurt this woman because I was focused on the load across my shoulders, how much I needed to lift it to finish my day and get home. I never saw the person, just the task. Every time a person walks into my room, I should follow Dr. Walt Larimore’s advice. I should pause and ask myself, “WIGD?” (What is God Doing?)
- Apologize and ask forgiveness. I did so publicly for this woman and bought lunch for the whole office as a sign of my commitment to do better. My experience has been that failure followed by repentence is sometimes a more powerful Christian witness than never having failed at all.
I will not be perfect until I am finally and fully transformed into the likeness of Christ. But the God who redeems my eternal failure is always present to redeem my earthly failures for His glory. He does want me to try harder as well.
Help me to do less when less is best, to slow down when slow is best, to focus on people, not just tasks, and to ask forgiveness when I fail.