What Has Helped You Feel Less Self-Conscious?

I never intended to be a minister.

Never.

I grew up in a church. Over the years, there were probably a half-dozen ministers who preached at this church. As a child, I really didn’t know much about them. I only saw them from a distance. Yet, most of them seemed “different.” Not different in a Christian sort of way. Just different in terms of manner. I remember dark suits, pulpit voices, and distance. I don’t say this to be critical. I am just expressing what I sensed as a child.

So, I never intended to be a minister.

Yet, I am a minister. I have been in this role for 30 years. I mean the kind who preaches each Sunday and does various kinds of ministry “full-time.” (Whatever that means!)

How did I end up in this role? How did I come to believe that God wanted me to do this for a portion of my life? That is a long story. Yet, I can honestly tell you that during my younger years, I never gave a thought to wanting to be a minister.

Years later, as I found myself moving toward this role, I had to grapple with my self-consciousness. I worriedself1.jpg (a lot) about what people thought about me. Would they think I was odd, weird, or different? The answer is “yes.” Yet, I learned that the issue to grapple with was not their perception but my own self-consciousness.   

I’ve known some ministers who seem to to deal with this by attempting to project a certain “coolness.” It sort of feels like this person is saying, “Hey, I’m not odd, weird, or different. I’m cool. I’m like you.” Well, ok. I just don’t think I want to approach this problem this way. Maybe I don’t trust my motives. It seems to me that in trying to convey “coolness” that my own self-consciousness is still in control.

I have learned to deal with this by first recognizing when I am feeling self-conscious and then focusing my energy and intent toward being authentic and being “me.”

The other day I was at a luncheon. Most of the other people present were either attorneys or business people. I was there as a guest of the luncheon speaker. At each table, we were asked to stand and introduce ourselves to those in the room. In this self-introduction, we were to give our name and our work. At one time, being the only minister present, I would have felt self-conscious in such a setting. That day, however, I was more focused on the conversation taking place between myself and a very interesting man who I had just met. I was more interested in him than focused on myself. It was an enjoyable lunch.

Question:

Do you ever find yourself so concerned about what others think of you that you don’t enjoy the moment? What has helped you become less self-conscious?



Willing to Be Changed! (Well–almost)

change.jpgThey are good people.  They may be pleasant and intelligent people.  Very often, they are Christian people.  Yet, some of these same people never seem to grow up emotionally.   There are some people who have developed their thinking processes quite well.  There are some who have the capacity to grasp intellectual complexities and make sense of them.

Yet, there are people who have just never been able to progress or move ahead in terms of allowing the Gospel to make a difference in the way they handle their emotions.

Recently, I read an interesting book entitled Church on the Couch: Does the Church Need Therapy?  The author, Elaine Martens Hamilton (a therapist), speaks of what she sees in and hears from some Christian people who are not experiencing real internal change. 


As a result marriages are falling apart at the same rate as for people who don’t attend church.  Too many of our kids are angry and disconnected from their families.  In growing numbers we are addicted to food, pornography, television and money.  We’ve got to be honest with ourselves: an intellectual understanding of faith does not equal spiritual maturity.  (p. 28)

Consider some of these situations, which may be all too familiar:

  • A seventy-year-old man who has been a Christian much of his life.  He is combative and argumentative when he is displeased and does not get his way.
  • A thirty-year-old woman who regularly gets into "drama" with others at work.  She has a long history of being a very difficult person to deal with.
  • A young man in his late twenties who has the emotional maturity of a fifteen-year-old.  His wife feels as if she must be wife and mother to him as well as managing the household.  His irresponsible spending has put their family in financial jeopardy.

Several years ago, I read a book entitled The Emotionally Healthy Church by Peter and Geri Scazzero.  In telling the story of their own faith journey, the authors observe that:


Despite all the emphasis today on spiritual formation, church leaders rarely address what spiritual maturity looks like as it relates to emotional health, especially as it relates to how we love other people.  (pp. 18-19)

What has been your own observation regarding the emotional maturity (or lack of) of Christ-followers?  How does this relate to spiritual transformation?

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It is still not too late to enter your name for the book giveaway.  Put your name in a comment to the post you will find here.  Drawing to be held Tuesday, April 7, 2009.