“It is part of the misguided and whimsical condition of humankind that we so devoutly believe in the power of effort-at-the-moment-of-action alone to accomplish what we want and completely ignore the need for character change in our lives as a whole. The general human failing is to want what is right and important, but at the same time not to commit to the kind of life that will produce the action we know to be right and the condition we want to enjoy. This is the feature of human character that explains why the road to hell is paved with good intentions. We intend what is right, but we avoid the life that would make it reality….
So, ironically, in our efforts to avoid the necessary pains of discipline we miss the easy yoke and light burden. We then fall into the rending frustration of trying to do and be the Christian we know we ought to be without the necessary insight and strength that only discipline can provide….
No one ever says, “If you want to be a great athlete, go vault eighteen feet, run the mile under four minutes,” or “If you want to be a great musician, play the Beethoven violin concerto.” Instead, we advise the young artist or athlete to enter a certain kind of overall life, one involving deep associations with qualified people as well as rigorously scheduled time, diet, and activity for the mind and body….
So, if we wish to follow Christ — and to walk in the easy yoke with him — we will have to accept his overall way of life as our way of life….Then, and only then, we may reasonably expect to know by experience how easy is the yoke and how light the burden.”
Dallas Willard in The Spirit of Discipline
The issue of character has been a topic of discussion between Kevin and I lately. We have been bothered by common acceptance of the idea that as long as a person is “getting things done” or “their ministry is growing”, then we should overlook all else. Never mind that the person has a huge lack of maturity. Look the other way even thought it is evident that his marriage is completely disfunctional. Never mind that she doesn’t follow through with responsibilities entrusted to her. Ignore the fact that the youth aren’t being taught to dress modestly or to serve the church, because after all, they’re going on missions trips!
I’m bothered by the fact that some of the leadership in our church seems to be more interested in getting things accomplished and having lots of programs than in discipling people in personal holiness and integrity. What do we do in a situation like this? These people have been approached with the sinful attitudes and tendencies, and yet choose to ignore them. Why is it acceptable to use people when you need them to do something and then ignore them when they have concerns? Why is it all right to neglect the things you’re being entrusted with — and paid for?
Some people say, “Well, God seems to be using them in spite of their faults.” Yes, that’s true. But does that mean they can forget about them? Never develop their character any further?
Sorry that this is turning into a rant. I do NOT want to give the impression that I think I’m perfect and everyone else needs to change. I know I’m not. There are many things I need to change, and bit by bit, I’m changing them. It doesn’t bother me to have flawed people in positions of leadership. It bothers me to have flawed leaders who believe they are fine the way they are. “Look, our numbers are increasing! I’m doing great.”
Compared to what? What – or better yet, Who – are we supposed to be like? We’re never done. There are always more issues to work on. And that’s okay. It’s only a problem when we stop working on them, or worse, deny they exist.