Lenten Reflection: Growing up

Mar. 12, 2023

“Jesus turned and rebuked them…”  Luke 9:55

Half my adult life has been spent in meetings – at least, it feels that way. Staff meetings. Board meetings. Committee meetings. Planning meetings. Department meetings. One-on-one meetings.

And I’m sure I’ve seen every form of human behavior in these gatherings. Tears. Laughter. Arguments. Awkward silence. Rudeness. Craziness. Apathy. Long-windedness… Not much surprises me anymore. I’m sure you have stories as well.
Last week a comment was shared that got me thinking—one of the more honest, vulnerable and interesting insights I’ve heard in awhile.

Meeting with our executive leadership team, I asked the group of leaders how the increased organizational responsibilities are impacting their daily lives. The responses varied. Then, a zinger.

“I’ve realized I need to grow up and act more adult,” shared one of the participants. “I need to curtail and manage my frustrations in new ways.”

Her jolting words gave me pause. Making that kind of confession—in front of one’s peers and one’s boss—takes an abundance of humility and courage. It’s an act I don’t see often—especially in our current society where blaming others for one’s own behavior is reaching new levels of absurdity. Owning our ugly seems to be a vanishing art—especially when done voluntarily. In this case no one was asking, or requesting or pointing to a specific action. She just engaged in a courageous act of introspection and shared her desire to grow as a better human and leader.

But isn’t this ultimately what our faith journey is about? Isn’t this the hopeful outcome of Lent? We own our faults. We acknowledge our rough edges… We stop blaming others. Take a step backwards…reflect…confess…move forward….grow into the likeness of Christ.

There’s a moment in Jesus’ journey I find fascinating. Jesus ventures into Samaritan territory on his final trip to Jerusalem. He’s seeking a place to rest for the night. But because of bad blood between the Samaritan and Jewish communities, the Samaritans don’t want Jesus or his disciples hanging in their neighborhood. No southern hospitality offered. No iced tea and biscuits. The red carpet reception—expected by disciples—turns to rejection.

In response, two of the supposedly adult disciples ask Jesus: “Should we call down fire upon these unwelcoming people?” I’ve met four-year-olds with greater empathy. Their intent is vicious and violent. Not a response you’d expect to hear from folks who have lived in the presence of God’s man of love, compassion and forgiveness for three years. Obviously these students missed the big lesson. Animal nature has reared its ugly head, needing to be nipped in the bud. Jesus confronts their behavior head-on. He “rebuked” them, writes Luke. What Jesus actually says to his wayward disciples is a mystery. But allow me to speculate: “Your behavior is unacceptable. Grow up!”

A Hasidic rabbi, on his deathbed, summarized his life: “When I was young, I set out to change the world. When I grew older, I perceived that this was too ambitious so I set out to change my state. This, too, I realized as I grew older was too ambitious, so I set out to change my town. When I realized I could not even do this, I tried to change my family. Now as an old man, I know that I should have started by changing myself.” And as the rabbi takes his last breath he concludes: “If I had started with myself, maybe then I would have succeeded in changing my family, the town, or even the state—and who knows, maybe even the world.”

“Your life is your spiritual path,” claims Paul Ferrini, “Don’t be quick to abandon it for bigger and better experiences. You are getting exactly the experiences you need to grow. If your growth seems to be slow or uneventful for you, it is because you have not fully embraced the situations and relationships at hand.”

Here’s great news for those desiring growth—embrace every experience as an opportunity to evolve into the person God needs you to become. Every event and encounter plays a role with this perspective. Even another meeting.

Blessing –

Bruce Main
Founder & President