Thursday, February 22, 2007

Sweet Surrender

Some of you that were growing up in the '70 might remember John Denver's song Sweet Surrender. I think it was the theme song for some movie about a bear. This post doesn't really have anything to do with John Denver, old movies or bears. But it does have to do with the freedom of surrender.

Surrender is a tough thing for anyone that is a little bit of a control freak. Truthfully, most of us want to have some control over anything that we are involved in. Kids want to have control over when they eat, what they eat, when they go to bed, when they get up, who they play with, whether or not they take a bath or brush their teeth. We know that parents are much better qualified to make these decisions, but we often end up in negotiations with our kids and making compromises anyway. I'm sure that my parent may have a different memory of my childhood days, but I don't recall getting a lot of negotiation time. Dinner was non-negotiable, you ate what was put on the table. Bedtime was non-negotiable, we were in bed while the rest of the neighborhood was still outside playing. I hated that! What we watched on the one TV with three available channels was non-negotiable whenever Dad was home. But we were healthy, well rested kids that did well in school, had good manners, and learned that many decisions that involved us were made without consulting us.

Today, I'd have to admit that there is a certain freedom in allowing the most qualified people to make the decisions and ultimately accept the responsibility and consequences for their decisions. I know that my parents loved us and were making their decisions based on what they felt to be in our best interests. At some level, I'm sure that I knew that even then. But that didn't stop me from stalling at bedtime or making my peas disappear from my plate and reappear on my brother's! However, I never thought about what would be for dinner, how it was paid for, how long it took to prepare it or any of that stuff. I just knew that when Dad pulled in the driveway, dinner was about 15 minutes away. Leaving every decision about dinner to somebody else allowed me to tend to the business of being a kid.

Likewise, there are still things today where we would be better off if we would surrender our will to those that are ultimately responsible. I've taken a page from a friend's outlook by dividing things into the things that are within my circle of concern and things that are within my circle of influence. There are somethings that I am concerned about but have no influence over. Worrying about things that you have no control (influence) over is one of those negative, life zapping, energy draining things. When you do have some control, when things fall within your circle of influence, then you can take action.

I've decided that I am going to use a third circle. This will be things that are within my circle of responsibility. Too often, we try to work in areas that are outside of our circle of responsibility. Some of the time, we fail to act on things that are within our circle of responsibility. In business, in the military, in the family and in the church, it is still true that you can delegate authority, but you cannot delegate responsibility. We can offer advice, we can rally support (or opposition), we can even convince the responsible party or parties that our way is better than their way. But we still cannot take away their accountability.

In the family, I believe that the man is responsible for the spiritual health of his family. He may be influenced by other members of the family. He may ask advice. He may let somebody else assume the role of spiritual leader. But in the end, he alone will answer for the spiritual condition of his family.

In the church, that leader is the Pastor. He takes on the role of a shepherd. It is his responsibility to guard the flock. He is responsible for feeding the flock, for growing the flock and for protecting the flock. He may seek help in fulfilling his responsibility. Help may come in the form of under shepherds (hired hands). He may seek counsel from other shepherds. He may just have a big, well trained dog. But in the end, he alone will answer for the spiritual condition of the flock.

When it comes to church life, I think that I like the idea of knowing what time dinner is. I know that I may not always like what's being served, but I believe that my pastor is doing what he believes God wants for me and the other members of the family. When I was growing up, we would have chores. I didn't get much of a say so in what my chores were. In the church family, I still have chores. We have the tendency to want to pick our chores in the church. The truth is that they have been assigned to us and we have been equipped to see that they get done. Unfortunately, we are sometimes like a disobedient child that fails to do the things that he is responsible for doing. (I'm not admitting that I have any experience in that!)

I think that I have enough to do without trying to accomplish the work of others. Oh, I'll be glad to help anyone that needs or wants my help. But I'm comfortable to let you do your job. Truthfully, it is taking me a great deal of effort to do what God has placed before me. Understand that I'm not complaining, it is a privilege to be called into His service. It's just that some kids have to work really hard at getting things right. I guess I'm one of them.

I want to close by saying that I love both of my families--the one that I grew up in and the church family that I'm still growing up in!


"Now we ask you, brothers, to respect those that work hard among you, who are over you in the Lord and who admonish you. Hold them in the highest regard in love because of their work." The Apostle Paul in his first letter to the Thessalonians

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