One day, as a young pleaser pastor, I was looking forward to my vacation because I was completely exhausted. I used up a lot of energy every day worrying about what others thought of me. I was very dependent upon other people’s approval so that I could feel ok about myself. I had a deep fear of being rejected and I hated conflict and confrontation.
Several hours before we were going to jump in the family station wagon, I received a phone call from an irate family member who was enraged at me. As they angrily slammed the phone in my ear, I said to myself, “My vacation is ruined.”
It was a silent ride for me as we drove from Southern California to stay with some friends in Central California. Kay and the kids were concerned and bummed as well. When we got there, they could see my dejected countenance and asked how they could help. My short answer was, “I need a quiet place where I can wrestle with God about this matter.”
I went to a quiet bedroom in the back of the house, got on my knees and said to God, “Why did you let my vacation get ruined?” In the hour or two that followed, new insights began to unfold from the Scriptures:
I happen to read John 6 where Jesus preached some very difficult theological principles that agitated the people who were listening. In verse 66, it says that many who had followed him turned and walked away from Him. In verse 67, he turned to the disciples and said, “You do not want to go away also, do you?”
I observed that Jesus didn’t panic when people rejected Him, he simply let they walk away. Instead of doing what I would have done, and said to the disciples, “Boy I’m sure glad you guys didn’t go.” He did the harder thing, even subtly inviting them to go too if they so desired. As a raging pleaser who only wanted people to stay close, I was horrified at his courage by asking a tough question and forcing them to choose as well. This verse took my breath away. It gave me a new understanding about Jesus emotional security. He wasn’t afraid to be alone.
When you think about it, millions of people are angry at God every day and somehow God is not weakened by this. Pleaser leaders are. Oh, it saddens Him, but He doesn’t obsess and feel panicky at being abandoned.
Two hours later, I got up, and realized that the next step of my spiritual and emotional journey was to learn to tolerate discomfort, disagreement and rejection as opposed to being paralyzed by the fear of abandonment. I now had something new to bring to the foot of the cross. A new area of sanctification and growth to work on daily.
Looking back twenty five years later, I’m grateful for the insight I received that day. I’ve gotten much better at it, and I’m a more effective as a leader. I’m now grateful for the bad start to our vacation, as God used it to change my life.
Next week we will begin to discuss how to help the Vacillator Leader
Thanks for listening,
Next week: Helping the Vacillator Leader.