Sunday, April 10, 2016

What did you call me?

Over the past few weeks I've had two interactions that caught me off guard and got me thinking about how I've developed as a person and as a Christian over the past 20 years or so. On both occasions I was shocked to hear the things that were said about me. If you have known me for a long time you may not even believe what I'm about to tell you. So what were these two shocking things that were said to me?

You're an introvert? I may have laughed out loud when I heard that one! I never would have dreamed that someone would ask me this question. I am the guy who maxed out the "introvert" scale on every personality test I took in high school or college. I still remember my classmates using me as the definition of the phlegmatic personality type. So how did I get to the point where someone could question the fact that I referred to myself as introverted? I'll get to that in a moment. But first, I'll tell you the second thing that was said to me.

You're definitely a "people" person. Are you kidding me? How could this be said about the guy who emotionally crashes after a big party, and would rather backpack in the wilderness than go to a crowded park? As for the context, this statement was made by someone who was looking through my Honduras photos on Flickr, and it was preceded by the comment, "You can tell a lot about a person by their photos." He was looking for technical photos of our airplane work in Honduras, but found that the technical photos were outnumbered by photos of people, scenery, and village life.

Now, I'll start by saying that I am still an introvert. I am refreshed by spending time alone, and I enjoy times of solitude. But I can also see how God has changed me over the past two decades, developing in me a love for people and a willingness to step outside my comfort zone to reach out to them and serve the body of Christ. At the risk of sounding prideful (hopefully I don't come across that way), I'll expound a bit. My intent is to give credit to God for te changes He has brought about in me, and to encourage others to believe that He truly can change us (often using other people).

I've always been the type of person who was content to have a few close friends, and to stay out of the spotlight. While there is nothing wrong with that, there are times when God has called me to be in front of people in order to have a greater influence for His Kingdom. I began my college years as a relatively shy and timid freshman, but through my involvement with a Christian student organization (Campus Crusade for Christ, now called Cru) I was encouraged to initiate conversations about spiritual topics with friends and strangers. This was far outside my comfort zone, but I began to see how God was intersecting the lives of students through seemingly random conversations on campus. I began to actually look forward to these conversations, rather than dread them.

My campus director was also instrumental in helping me develop the confidence to lead others in music, although I may not have realized it at the time. He was notorious for calling me last-minute, asking me to bring my guitar and lead a group of students in singing. I was never frustrated, though, because of the profound impact he had on my life, and I slowly grew in confidence and ability. Eventually, several years later, I served multiple churches by leading worship through music. In fact, I've been consistently involved in leading church music for over fifteen years now. It's comical (although I try to contain my laughter) when people tell me, "I could never get up in front of people and do that." If they only could have known me as a teenager!

I also look back and see how God has developed in me a love for people—both inside and outside the church. I always valued friendships, but I was happy to stay within my small group of friends, and to let others come to me. As I have spent time in ministry, and as Tara has rubbed off on me (she loves the people in her life more than anyone else I know), I have come to the point where I want to be the one who reaches out to the people around me. Although I still have introvert tendencies, they are overpowered by a desire for people to feel valued, to know that someone cares about them, and that Jesus loves them more than they can comprehend.

I have a long way to go, and lots of areas for growth. But it was encouraging for me to hear those two statements made to me recently, knowing that it's only through the work of the Holy Spirit that I could have come to this point. It's my desire to live out what the apostle Paul expressed in Philippians 3:12-14, where he wrote:

Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

I hope you will join me in trusting God to change and perfect us, that we may bring glory to Jesus, as we look forward to an eternity with Him!

No comments:

Post a Comment