It's amazing how suffering can bring us together like nothing else. "Time and chance happen to us all," the Preacher writes in Ecclesiastes. But the subject of our own choosing is what's more captivating.
I mean, why do we do some of the stupid things we do? We deny what others see in us, pretending that either they've got it wrong or they don't see how unique and different and special God knows we really are. But wisdom says we're not that different!
While time and chance happen to us all, it's our denial, refusal, and inability to see the obvious. The toxic supervisor shows their underhandedness even before the potential hire is made. Future staff colleagues are put-down. Red flag! Not to worry. I'm different. A clergy leader has a clear history of sabotaging the work of others, but then, we think we're different, so we'll choose to work with them in spite of the evidence that we'd be better off without their "career help."
Or we deny signs of burnout in ourselves: apathy, meaningless, boredom, lethargy, etc., etc. Somehow, we are above it, we tell ourselves. We're not like those other clergy leaders who had problems with this sort of thing. We're taking precautions. We're good, so good that we don't even need help. We're above it all.
I hurt for my clergy colleagues who too often like me, think that denial of my true self and attention to the false self is necessary to get ahead in the church business. Because such denial is based on self-hate and anger, not love. And anger leads to bitterness, resentment, and finally the death of sloth- total indifference.
So the next time you're tempted by the illusion of your own superiority, remember what got you here in the first place: not your moral goodness, ability, or political acumen. In spite of what anyone has told you, it's God's grace, a grace that loves and heals and liberates even and especially what we deny in ourselves.
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