A few days ago, I rushed to see Toni (the lady who cuts my hair) in the middle of the work day. I got there with just a few minutes to spare after getting off a conference call. Someone else was sitting in Toni’s chair. “I’ll just wait in the lobby until you’re done,” I told Toni. In response, she said, “You’re not supposed to be here today. I have you down for next week.”
If you spent a week with me, you would probably pick up on the fact that this kind of thing happens quite often. In the flurry of running a ministry and being a wife and mom, I miss a lot of details. It no longer surprises me when I show up on the wrong day or book my rental car for the wrong city (although it still frustrates me). I’ve learned not to trust myself with the details. When something is important, I double and triple check myself. Instead of feeling self-conscious, I’ve learned to be okay with my limitation and accept that this is a weakness I have. My husband lovingly calls me his “absent-minded professor.”
While forgetting details is annoying, I have other weaknesses that are not so innocuous. As I’ve grown as a woman and as a follower of Jesus, I’ve become more confident in the power of God within me and less confident in my own wisdom and goodness. You might say that I’ve learned not to trust myself. The statement “I don’t trust myself” is completely counter to the wisdom of the day that continually tells me to believe in myself. I promise you that the more I refuse to trust myself, the more confident I become. Why? Because I trust the Spirit of God who gives me wisdom, courage and strength for each day.
I occasionally remind my co-workers at Authentic Intimacy, “I don’t know what I’m doing.” This is not what you would generally want a leader of an organization to admit out loud. Yes, I have knowledge, experience and abilities that equip me to lead Authentic Intimacy, but I don’t have the wisdom to know what is best. My co-workers hear this admission not as a sign of weakness but as a reassurance that we are going to seek the Lord, not simply follow Juli Slattery’s latest idea. The same is true as I parent my three sons. Even with all of my psychology degrees, I know that I don’t have it within me to make all the right decisions as a mom. Sometimes my “gut” and my professional training are wrong. I need to seek wise counsel. I need accountability. But mostly, I need God who promises, “I will instruct you in and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my loving eye on you” (Psalm 32:8).
The last evening Jesus was with His disciples, He told them, “I am the vine and you are the branches. Unless you abide in me, you will bear no fruit. Apart from me, you can do nothing!” Most Christians are pretty familiar with this teaching in John 15, but few of us truly take it to heart. We believe that God wants us to do great things for Him, not that He wants to do great things through us. That is a critical distinction!
What would change if you believed these two things? 1) Apart from fellowship with God, you can do nothing. 2) You can do all things through Christ who gives you strength. How would this change your approach to work, ministry and family?
The statement “I don’t trust myself” is freeing. The truth is you do not have the power within you to control your destiny or even to get your kid to eat broccoli. Admitting this truth means that you don’t have to be perfect. You don’t have to have all the answers. You don’t have anything to prove. Your one aspiration is to abide… to know your Father and to be like a child, depending upon Him in every circumstance. He will provide the wisdom, strength and courage you need. I say that with confidence because I am living it.