November 21, 2016

My Giant Blindspot

I had a giant blind spot in my life called entitlement. The problem is I didn’t know it was there until a trusted friend pointed it out to me. If you’ve ever come to visit us in Redding, you know that the Bethel parking lot can fill up quicker than a mall parking lot on Black Friday. I pulled up to the church one day and couldn’t find a spot, even in our staff-reserved lot! The only one available was a handicap spot in the staff lot that was never used. We didn’t even have anyone on staff who would need the handicap spot, so I figured it was totally okay for me to park in it. Especially given that I’d literally never seen anyone use it! I am a senior pastor, after all! So I parked in the handicap spot and carried on my way.

A few days later, my friend Dann Farrelly approached me. He gently asked, “Hey Kris, I don’t feel good about you parking in that handicap spot. What were you thinking?” I immediately recounted all of the reasons I had thought through; the fact that we didn’t have any handicapped staff, the fact that the whole lot was full, and the fact that I was a lead pastor and needed to get into the building. How was this not obvious to him?

Dann responded, “Well that’s not really the point. First of all, your justifications are not true because handicap people actually need that spot even if they’re not on staff. It has a pathway that leads to other buildings they may need to get to. But the bigger deal is that you’re setting an example to staff and communicating to them with your actions, whether you realize it or not. You’re saying that you can ignore laws you don’t agree with. And breaking them doesn’t count if you’re not caught. It’s just not right.” I thought he was crazy when he told me this! We had a passionate dialogue (read: a heated argument) and I walked away really angry. I thought about it for a few days and cooled down. I realized this was more than just a convenient place to park, and I really did have a sense that I was above the law and my years at Bethel warranted me not having to keep the rules. I came down from my high horse and in the end I really appreciated Dann’s feedback. He helped me to see an area of growth that I didn’t even know I needed, and I’m a better leader now because of his input.

Kindness is Cool, But Don’t Be a Fool

I love what I see happening in the world right now with people knowing their need to be in connection and relationship with other people. This not only empowers us into a more fulfilling and healthy life, but it’s also very necessary for living out our destinies. One thing to consider when looking for community is that not every person is the right person for you to be in relationship with. Think about it, I’m sure you’ve heard someone say, “Oh he’s a great kid, he just got in with the wrong crowd.” You become like the people you surround yourself with. Look around you, do you see a bunch of idiots? Don’t be like one yourself; choose your friends wisely.

I know that some of you may be thinking, “Well Kris, the Bible says to love all people!” I’m not arguing with that. We are all called to be kind to others, regardless of their state of need or brokenness. I’m not saying that you should be harsh or mean, I’m simply saying that not all people you minister to should have a place to speak into your life. Proverbs 13:20 says, ”He who walks with wise men will be wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm.” So how do you balance your heart to love on people without finding yourself suffering harm from being a companion with fools?

The key is to give people different levels of access – to knowing you, spending time with you, speaking into your life – to the degree to which you want them to influence you. Boundaries play a huge role in this. They’re a way of letting the right people in on your life. When you’re in deep relationship with someone who is producing good fruit, you’ve allowed them to be an influencer on your life. There’s a give and take as you exchange vulnerability and wisdom with one another. On the other hand, when you allow an idiot to influence your life, the fruit in your own life will begin to look like the (often rotten) fruit you see in theirs. And in the end, you’ll find yourself looking in the mirror only to find another idiot.

Let Others In

If the truth sets you free then taking council from truth-tellers is the best way to set yourself up for freedom. Once you’ve discerned and chosen the people you want in your inner circle, it’s important to invite them to give you council. The tone for this is set by none other than yourself. Creating a safe space for people to feel like they can share what they’re seeing in your life is key to becoming a world-changer! So ask for feedback, then listen. How you respond to feedback will communicate how much value you have for the person sharing their opinion.

So many times people have asked me to speak into their lives and then given me the cold shoulder or argued with me when they don’t agree with my opinion. Some have even given me the silent treatment. This kind of punishment does not make me want to share with them again. I’m not saying I’m always right, and I don’t always expect people to agree with me, but I do want to feel that I’m being valued by the people I give feedback to.

The people who counsel you may not always be right, but Proverbs 11:14 says, “In abundance of counselors there is victory.” So if you want to be victorious, it’s worth the risk of asking and proactively inviting wisdom in. The truth is that we all have blind spots, things that we may not even know we need to work on, and it’s important to get the help from others to see them clearly and grow into the callings on our lives.

I’d love to share more with you on this topic! Join my mailing list to get a free download from my new book, Destined to Win, on the art of taking counsel. It poses 5 questions to ask yourself about whether you’re living as a fool or in wisdom. I’d also love to hear how you go about discerning who to allow into a place of influence in your life. Let me know in the comments below.

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