I sometimes struggle with self pity
So, a couple of weeks ago I heard this warning from John Piper to fight against giving in to self-pity under the pressures and loneliness of leadership. I have to say, I wasn’t looking for it, and before I read it I wouldn’t have even been able to identify that maybe self-pity was at the root of some of my struggles, but the minute the words passed in front of my eyes I experienced that kind of freedom and pain you get when you taste the truth of conviction.
I struggle with the temptation of giving in to self-pity under the pressures and loneliness of leadership. I hate even confessing this one. Because the pharisee in me knows enough to know that I should be ashamed of myself. The prodigal in me knows that it’s only by the grace of God that someone like me would even be in leadership. Both swings of the pendulum hate this confession. And yet, it feels sometimes like it’s owning me.
I guess because leadership is lonely. And there is pressure. Pressure to be better, and pressure to be transparent, but not too transparent. And pressure to say the right thing, but the knowledge inside that I almost always will say the wrong thing. And fear from my pharisee of what my sin might cost me one day, and fear from my prodigal of what my pursuit of Jesus might cost me one day. And a lot of feelings and thoughts that don’t seem at all centered on the joy of the Lord and His Gospel and His ministry that I believe in.
But in some ways, it helps to confess it. It helps to preach the truth to myself. So, listen up pharisee-self: you’re broken and flawed and useless in your own strength. You will fail in ways you cannot imagine. You are not in leadership because you’re better or good or talented or skilled. You are in leadership because that’s the shape of your clay jar, and when filled to the brim with the Spirit it’s how you reflect God’s glory the best.
And you too, prodigal-self: you’re a sinner, okay. we get it. But knowing that you’re broken isn’t an entitlement to stay that way. And leadership and the call to purity that every believer has isn’t a punishment to pull you away from all the things that make you happy. It’s a gift. And not in the way healthy food or the dentist is a gift. It’s not just ‘good for you’ it’s the kind of good that would actually taste good if you would just believe. The Lord is kind and good and you would believe that if you would just trust into Him. This role of leadership is His kindness and His love.
So – that’s how I’m preaching to myself today. Trying to tell my self-pitying parts to hold fast to what is true.