Dear Heavenly Father,
You alone are worthy of my worship. Please help me to seek humility, and to remember that my value comes from you alone. Open my eyes to see specific people in my life that I can encourage and empower, and give me the strength to do so.
In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
One of the great enemies of men is that of pride. Women seem to have a greater understanding of what it means to be loved just as they are, and value this aspect of life. While women desire to be cherished, we as men, desire to be respected. Our desire to be respected for the things we accomplish can easily transition into pride. This pride can lead us to hinder the potential of others, and at its worst, can even hurt them in the long run.
This fundamental difference between men and women is best illustrated through the works of Hollywood. My wife has never forgiven me for ruining “chick flicks” for her, but the basic plotline to every “romantic comedy” plays out like this: a young, attractive, successful career woman, who has no time for romance, meets a quirky, yet charming young man who she initially cannot stand. In the process of meeting this guy, she somehow meets another man, who is some type of rich, handsome doctor, and who proceeds to sweep her off of her feet. Through the course of some awkward events, the woman realizes that the doctor is actually a jerk, and that the quirky guy is actually the man she is meant to be with. She races to him to confess her love for him, just as he is leaving the city to pursue his unfulfilled dreams. They share an embrace, and live happily ever after.
This is the type of story that women eat up because the protagonist is cherished simply because of who she is. She has already had corporate success, but it isn’t enough. She is only fulfilled by someone who loves her for just being her. A stereotypical “guy movie” kind of works in the opposite way. The hero only receives recognition (and the girl) after he has earned it through his actions. The hero in these movies doesn’t need acceptance for who he is, he desires respect for what he has done.
Because men are wired this way, we constantly have to fight the battle of pride. This does not always bode well for other gifted men who could possibly “threaten” our perceived positions within an organization. Our example for the next few weeks, Barnabas, gives us a glimpse into the right way to handle a similar situation. We pick his story up in Acts 9:26-28. This passage says: “When he (Saul) came to Jerusalem, he tried to join the disciples, but they were all afraid of him, not believing that he really was a disciple. But Barnabas took him and brought him to the apostles. He told them how Saul on his journey had seen the Lord and that the Lord had spoken to him, and how in Damascus he had preached fearlessly in the name of Jesus. So Saul stayed with them and moved about freely in Jerusalem, speaking boldly in the name of the Lord.”
Barnabas models for us the correct way to handle a potentially toxic situation. Saul, fresh off of his conversion, was understandably making the other believers nervous with his new found zeal for Christ. Barnabas first identified the potential for leadership in Saul, and then intentionally positioned him into a place where he could be empowered by other leadership. Barnabas could have deferred to the other believers, citing the wicked actions of Saul as his justification. Barnabas could have viewed Saul as a new threat to his standing in the church, and cut him off at the knees before Saul’s ministry could ever have begun. Instead, Barnabas demonstrated a humble heart, sensitivity to the Spirit’s leading, and an overwhelming passion for the Kingdom.
So where does this leave us? Guys, we constantly have to ask God to humble us. We also have to desire to advance his Kingdom beyond our desire to advance ourselves. We must constantly ask the Spirit to give us discernment when it comes to empowering those whom God desires to commission into his service. I challenge you this week to be thinking about where your heart is, and who in your life, might need to be empowered by you.