Many people go through seasons of their lives with an “I’ve got this” attitude. They convince themselves they know what’s best in a particular situation, or how to fix a particular problem. And they hold onto that belief… until they can’t anymore. Every individual eventually comes to a point where they learn that they don’t actually know all that they think they know. For the Christian, it comes down to facing the reality that God is God and we are not.
When Nancy and I started our family in 1969, the firstborn was our daughter Barbara Ann who came into our world in 1970. We threw ourselves wholeheartedly into parenting this precious little girl. She was very low maintenance. She was obedient, compliant, and easy to train. I mean, there were many times when we had to go into a room where she was supposed to be to make sure she was OK, or not getting into mischief because she was so quiet. We would often find her quietly and peacefully thumbing through her cloth children’s book or playing with a favorite toy. I had the “I got this” attitude towards parenting. I mean, I almost started looking down on the whiny parents who were claiming they were at a loss about what to do with their “problem child.” They should have consulted me, because after all, “I got this” – until I didn’t. Three years after Barbara was born, our son Stephen Junior came along, and all bets were off. I didn’t have it anymore. I started thinking, “Son, if you were our firstborn, you would probably be an only child!” He was a good kid – just different. I needed an outside, reliable source to help me navigate the new challenges of parenting, because “I no longer had it.”
When I started pastoring my first church over forty years ago, I knew I didn’t have it. Oh, I would often pretend that “I got this,” but I was making it up as I went along, faking it until I was making it. But no one knew about my inadequacies and insufficiencies more than me. I would regularly plead with God to help me figure out what to do in many challenging situations. It was all “unfamiliar territory,” and I desperately needed God. But an interesting thing happened after about ten years of pastoring. I started having the “I’ve got this” attitude towards leading a church. I didn’t feel the desperation as much anymore. My training, education, and experience were going carry me through. Do you know what else is interesting? Today, I sense more of a desperation in ministry than I did over forty years ago. Why? Because relying only on my training, education and experience lands me at the place of mediocrity and maintenance, instead of mission and meaning.
We will never, ever be wiser than or even equal to the knowledge and wisdom of God. Because of who he is and who we are, there will always be a tremendous amount of mystery in the relationship. We must be willing to accept and embrace it–and not let it become a hindrance. We may feel the “need” to know why something is the way it is, or why something happened the way it did, but most times we simply cannot–and still we must believe and obey. To be in a right relationship with God, we must adopt an attitude of “I don’t know… and it’s OK that I don’t. I’ll do what He asks anyway.”
Fill in these blanks as they pertain to your story:
- I don’t know why ______________ happened, but I’ll trust God anyway.
- I don’t know why I had to experience _______________, but I’ll love him anyway.
- I don’t know why I am experiencing _______________ right now, but I’ll follow him anyway.
- I don’t know why he is pushing me out of my comfort zone by ________________, but I’ll go and do it anyway.
He is God and we are not. “Anyway” is a good way to live when it’s His way. “I’ve got this” needs to become “He’s got me, therefore He’s got this.”