I know that I can be stubborn and defensive. Unfortunately, I have several eyewitness testimonies to support that claim. As I mentioned in my last post, I tend to trust my own wisdom, which is prideful of me. Sometimes this makes me very skeptical of other people trying to push me in a direction other than the one I was already intending to go. It can make me very defensive over any correction. I know that because of this, it can be difficult to lead me. Knowing one needed to correct me has been stressful for those that have led me, because they were not always sure how I would react. Would I listen to grow, or would I listen to defend?
One verse that struck me when I read it last year, and struck me again last month, is Deuteronomy 1:12. As Moses was speaking to the people of Israel about how God had appointed him to lead them, he pointed out that they were not the easiest to lead. He said, “But you are such a heavy load to carry! How can I deal with all your problems and bickering?” It first caught my attention, because I thought it was funny. Moses was often very blunt with Israel. My first thought was that I wish I could get away with talking to people like that! But then I realized I was identifying with the wrong side of the conversation. I have often been such a heavy load to carry for those that have led me. I have been contentious, I have bickered with others, especially over corrections. I wonder how many of my bosses have ever wanted to say to me, “You are such a heavy load to carry! How am I supposed to deal with you?” This is something that God has convicted me over, and it is something that I pray about daily. I want to experience full life in my field. I want to listen, learn, and not always be defensive.
I want to grow, and I want to be better at my job, but I will never grow if I don’t let others lead me well. This has gotten better as I’ve gotten older and realized how much I still don’t know, but I wouldn’t say I’m 100% cured. Pastor Dave can attest to that, at least to the not 100% cured part. One practical tip I have adopted is trying very hard to not respond immediately to critique. I listen, I try to fight the urge to respond, and then I go home and think about it. I pray about it. I will usually respond the next day or the next week. And do you know what I’ve found? I would have been wrong to defend myself every time, because the critiques have often been true. Sometimes I don’t reach the same conclusion, and I do come back and explain why I disagree, but I do so respectfully, not combatively, because I want to be a joy to lead, and I want to be better than I was yesterday.
How heavy of a load are you for your boss(es) or your teachers? Are you a joy to lead, or are you a burden at work and/or at school? Be honest with yourself. Maybe ask someone else’s perception. And listen without defending yourself! Wanting to be a joy to lead should be a priority for all Christians. We should want to listen and follow well, because at the end of the day, we know whatever we are doing, we are doing for God. Imagine everything you do at work and at school is an offering to God. What exactly do we want to give Him?
Colossians 3:23 (NLT)
“Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people.”