So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.
2 Corinthians 4:18 NLT
Yesterday, I got to talk to our new owner and CEO, Frank Mobley, in the break room for the first time casually — and I also got to speak with several leaders, Josiah Magnuson, Jamie Jordan, Rob Nelson, William Renfro, and several others, at the South Carolina Christian Chamber of Commerce meeting during lunch on the topic of “transformational leadership”.
And while there could have been conversations had with them about business strategies, etc. — I found myself having much more personal conversations with them instead of “hustling” to “make connections”, or “gain favor”, or “sell them on my ideas”. But I realize that there was another time when everything I said and did “had an angle” and was carefully constructed in my mind to get me to the next place that I wanted to be. My “old way” was to use people like what the CIA would call “assets”, and to develop them by building trust so that you can manipulate them, extract valuable information from them, and use them for accomplishing your own goals.
Some people can “hustle” and it is clear and evident to everyone around them exactly what they are up to — and that’s why I used to hate business gatherings for “networking” because it was so fake and superficial and self serving — and for the same reasons, I hated visiting churches, because it seemed they either didn’t care about me at all, or they wanted to “be the one that saved me” to get some kind of credit with God for proselytizing yet another religious convert. Now I know this unseen “stench” that we can seem to spiritually smell in those situations is the smell of lovelessness, and we can hear Paul speak of this lack of love in 1 Corinthians 13.
If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn’t love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I understood all of God’s secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had such faith that I could move mountains, but didn’t love others, I would be nothing. If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it; but if I didn’t love others, I would have gained nothing.
1 Corinthians 13:1-3 NLT
I found myself speaking with these leaders, and listening more intently to what they had going on personally than what success they might want to share about their professioal lives because it isn’t what is “seen” that matters most. And it wasn’t something that I made a conscious effort to do so that I could gain trust to then leverage at a later date — I actually wanted to get to know them and encourage them and be a friend and a helper.
And this seems so different to me than how things used to be, so I have to accept and believe that God is truly at work, changing my desires and my ways to be more like Him, in a way that isn’t burdensome and isn’t me just trying to live up to some list of guidelines and rules to be followed. There is something going on underneath, below the surface, that isn’t just superficial and temporary.
It’s a “transformation”!
Our family devotional this morning was on “The Poor Rich Man”:
And I can remember times in my life where I ws decided and isolated and so self centered that I didn’t want to have anything but superficial attachments to anyone around me — one night stands, folks to party with, business connections to close deals with, etc. But I didn’t want to let anyone “in” — I wanted everything away a safe distance where the was no real relationship, no real friendship, no real “investment” of myself into yet another person who would just be the first to use me as their “asset”. It was a game of staying on top, being in control, limiting risk — and it was all a lie and was worthless and futile.
Now, I have to tell you that I’m not yet perfected in these areas, and that I am still tempted many times to retreat into my shell, but I have something stronger than my own insecurities to guide me. My strength comes from the Lord. And as prideful as it may sound for me to be sharing how I have seen the Lord demonstrating victory in this area of my life instead of speaking of how this message “revealed sin and convicted me to repent and confess” — sometimes we have to praise the Lord for the victory He has won and is revealing in our lives! And since these are the words He has for me today, Hallelujah, because I know that discipline comes when it is due as well.
So my question becomes, “What matters?” Moreso, “What truly matters in the scope of eternity?”
And, “Will my life reflect that today?”
Let’s not be so short sighted with our distractions, grumbling, lovelessness, unforgiveness, selfishness, and doubt that we miss out on what is truly valuable today!
Lord, open our eyes to see what is unseen, those things that are our purpose and calling in this short journey , those kingdom riches greater than rewards of gold and diamonds, the richness of your very presence leading us, changing us, molding us, sanctifying us to believe who you say we are in Christ so that we can live lives that are not stumbling others, but that we might be able to say, “Come, walk with me, and you will see God at work!” And that we would say it and mean it in a humbled, awe stricken manner that makes it clear that we do not think so very much of ourselves, but that we trust in you, oh Lord, so greatly. Because you have won the victory, and you are great and worthy to be praised — and you use even people such as us to accomplish your will, on earth as it is in heaven. Hallelujah! Amen!