Monday, March 02, 2009

Figuring it out . . .

My spiritual formation coach, Dean Trune, challenged me a few weeks back to identify a character trait that I would like to work on in my life. After some prayer and thought I suggested that an area where I need to grow is identified in James 1:19-20 - "My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, for man's anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires."

Dean thought that was a good idea and pointed out the connection between my mouth, mood and morals that is found in the juxtaposition of the verse that follows: "Therefore get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you."

I don't know why I didn't spot the connection in these verses before now, because I certainly have seen how the two - morals and mouth - connect in my own life. Whenever I am struggling with any moral temptation I find that I am more likely to become angry and shoot my mouth off. My temper is shorter and my tongue is quicker.

Dean suggested I ask God three questions in light of what James writes:
  1. Show me where I chose not to listen well to others or to you.
  2. Show me where I spoke too quickly or where I spoke and you desired my silence.
  3. Show me where I displayed anger that offended and help me understand what "right" I chose not to surrender to you.
Of course, as soon as I committed to serious exploration, I was confronted with a situation that proved to be a test that I failed. Arriving at the church yesterday afternoon a few minutes early for my scheduled 4 PM meeting, I found my office door open and my floor covered with instrument cases, purses, coats and a miscellany of musician detritus. The orchestra that was using our building for their afternoon concert found my door open (apparently it was not pulled completely shut when we left after church yesterday morning) and decided to drop their things in my office.

I did not respond well. I became angry, and rather quickly. After all, there was a $2000 Mac on my desk, a check for $150 that someone left so their kids could attend an upcoming youth conference. I had a file cabinet full of confidential counseling files that were all vulnerable. These warranted the door being locked. On reflection, however, I had to ask myself, "Had the door been locked, would my response have been any different?"

Truthfully, probably not. I sort of feel like my office is mine. And that when someone uses it without my knowledge it is a violation or personal affront - sort of like someone using my toothbrush at summer camp. The bottom line is that it is MINE. That, in regards to question number three above, is the right that I chose not to surrender to God yesterday. And that is why I failed the test. Concern for the security of my files, and the protection of my office equipment is legitimate, but should only have produced concern, not anger.

Bottom line, I've got a ways to go to. I am still learning, still be shaped, molded and, at times, chastened by God. But at least I get the sense that I am starting to figure some things out.

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

your not alone, we can all use alot more quick to listen, slow to speak and anger moments. remember those drop it trucks our boys had? maybe we need one to remind slow to speak, or anger.

Mike in IN

Anonymous said...

Know you kinda know how we feel when the people come in the back door unexpected. Just remember things can be replaced, but people can't. Good luck on the anger issue.

Sue B.

Anonymous said...

Hey Mike,

Didn't those trucks also say "Let it Go"? That would be appropriate. I gotta find me one of those dump trucks to keep around the house!

Besides having them as a reminder about the anger, its also a reminder of great memories.

Mrs. Frankly

Anonymous said...

I think I smashed Aarons one day must have been a bad one haha. yes they did say let it goooooo. where did they get them anyway

Mike

Anonymous said...

I'm not sure but I want one! If I ever find one I will pick up an extra for you.

Anonymous said...

is the office really "yours" or is it really God's...