Friday, September 26, 2008

"He was a very intense child."

"Intense. Very Intense." This is how my mom described me as a baby...and as a child... and again as a teenager...And now that I think of it, probably as I am now.

My mom told me a story about the way in which I would practice my clarinet when I was younger. I would play and play a piece until it was perfect, and if it wasn't perfect in the amount of time I thought it should be I would get so mad that I would THROW my clarinet across the room. Finally my mom "broke" me of this habit...by getting me to throw the music stand instead. An improvement, but not a big one. There was another time when I was auditioning for the Arizona All-State Band in high school, and I got so frustrated with my performance in the audition that after I left the room that I was auditioning in I actually threw my fist into the wall of the music building. These are just a few of the colorful stories that capture my unfortunate personality of being intense.

As you can expect this has caused quite a bit of strife and harm in relationships that I have had with people. I often come across as harsh, competitive, argumentative, and aggressive. And the person who really has to deal with this first hand is my wonderful wife. I feel so blessed that God has given her to me because she is so patient and kind and gentle with me as I undergo God's tempering of my spirit.

Recently Valerie brought to my attention how I had become more aggressive and argumentative in the past few months than I had been in the last couple of years. It was hard to hear that because I do not really like that aspect of my personality and have been trying to give God's Spirit more and more control over my life and attitudes. I thought that I had been improving in that area. One of the phrases in scripture that has been running through my mind for about a year is found in Ephesians 4:2 "with all humility and gentleness...". I have been trying to live that out as it pertains to walking with Christ in a manner worthy of the calling of Christ. I struggle so much with gentleness, compassion and humility so, to hear Valerie bring that up definitely made me get before the Lord and seek His thoughts on this.

The next morning I was spending some time with Jesus in His word and God gave me two passages of scripture that I am now memorizing and meditating on:

Proverbs 16:32
"He who is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he who rules his spirit that he who captures a city."


Proverbs 17:27
"He who restrains his words has knowledge, and he who has a cool spirit is a man of understanding."


These verses cut me to the quick and I knew as I read them that Valerie was the instrument that God was using to continue the tempering process in this area of my life. I feel like these verses speak for themselves so I will not attempt to expound upon them, but believe me when I say that it is harder to live out these verses than to read and memorize them. I memorized them in a day, but I will be seeking to live out these verses, with the help of the Spirit, for my whole life.

As I have been spending time in prayer over this, God has shown me that I often do not think of humility, gentleness, being slow to anger, restraining my words, and being tender with people, as strong characteristics.

As being characteristics of a good leader.

But I am about as wrong as you can be about that.

Jesus is the perfect example of how humility, compassion, gentleness, etc. all are characteristics of a truly godly servant-leader. As the Spirit of God works in me and tempers me I see more and more the value of these fruits of the Spirit. Not only in my relationship with my wife and others, but more importantly in my relationship with God! I have experienced a deeper and more intimate communion with Jesus because He is working those things into my life.

O' the sweet pain of the Great Doctor's scalpel in my heart,
turning me toward a greater affection, commitment, knowledge, and reliance upon Him!
The pain comes from my sin and depravity acting against God's work in my heart,
and will only go away when I enter in His eternal rest
where there will be pain no more!

1 comment:

J-Ra said...

So, when I started reading this, I thought it was Val writing for some strange reason, and I thought, "Throwing her clarinet across the room? That doesn't sound like something Val would do?" It took a while to click.