I have always been one who has to learn most things the hard way. I have a tendency to expect from others what I expect of myself. While I can find a million reasons why this is a right methodology, I am realizing that not everyone is in a place where these expectations are attainable. I realize that I am not even in a place to live up to the expectations that I put on myself. As I read Scripture, a shepherd leads and cares for his sheep, even when they try to run away, even when they disappoint. As I reflect on my life, man, have I been a disappointment to my family, friends, and I even to God.
As I let that realization permeate in my mind, I am convicted of the times that I have written people off, rejected people, showed bitterness and hatred towards people, because they did not live up to my expectation of them. I have to admit that I am just a walking contradiction. I need to seek repentance of this sin in my life, and learn from the example that Jesus demonstrated on how to love people, exhort people, and hold people accountable, but as he said, "I did not come to condemn the world but to save it." WOW!
As a Christ-follower, I need to love others, even when they are unlovable, even when they disappoint. I need to realize that I am to love, not because the person deserves it, but because God first loved me and sent his son to be my propitiation for my sins. As a friend of mine said to one of his employees when they were complaining to him about a student, "Have you ever been shown mercy?" WOW!
I am starting to see this journey as a Christ-follower (especially as a pastor) much like the experience that I had in boot camp for the Air Force. God is like my drill instructor, he doesn't hate me, he doesn't want me to fail, but the reason that he allows these trials and struggles to come into my life is because he wants us to learn to succeed in every circumstance. It is a journey of being broken down, so that Jesus can be built up, just like I was being broken down as an airman, so that the Air Force could be bettered. I am so grateful that God is allowing my eyes to be opened, and my heart softened so that I can understand these things and learn for the future. I am reminded of what one of my friends told me recently, "Don't let this be about you, but let it help you keep your eyes and heart on the gospel and the spread of it, bro."