A good friend is someone, that knowing even the worst of the worst about yourself, still loves you, who can tell you with a truthful heart the areas you need to improve, someone who believes in you even when you have stop believing in yourself, but most of all is someone who recognize his brokenness before Abba and knows that he needs my friendship the same way I need his. Today I smelled one more time the aroma of a good friend. I am amazed how God has allowed me to have these friends whom I can have different aromas and flavors; four men that has helped me in this journey. With Jeff I can dream and be youthful, with John I can be practical and make good decisions, with Tom I am loved as a son, and with Don I see the Spirit moving, and I can believe again in what Abba has for me. Four flavors different aromas, but each one of them brings growth into my life. This was a cry in my heart for many years and I am thankful I can call them an be myself with them: weak, imperfect, stubborn. Today I met with Don and he told me something I want to share with you. Don is a person who loves to study the Word and he shared with me the two lessons he has learned from Grace:
“1.- I can never do anything to earn God’s favor. I don’t have to do anything to earn God’s favor.
2.- Grace means that I never have an excuse to be less than the best I can be. Grace working in me can overcome any sin or weakness”
I know about the first one, but to be honest, the second one it is the hardest thing for me to believe. Most of the time I feel less, and not because I am humble, but because literately I feel less as a person, as a pastor, as a husband, as a friend. I feel that I am not worth enough to be wherever God wants me to be, so I struggle not only with sin in my life, but with not believing more on me so “I won’t have an excuse to be less than the best I can be”. This brings me to the 3 temptations Jesus had, explained by Henri Nouwen from his book “The Selfless Way of Christ”:
“The Temptation to be relevant, to do something that is needed and can be appreciated by people–to make productivity the basis of our ministry. This temptation is difficult to shake since it is usually not considered a temptation, but a call. We make ourselves believe that we are called to be productive, successful, and efficient people whose words and actions show that working for God’s Reign is at least as dignified an occupation as working for any other company.
The temptation to be spectacular, to force God to respond to the unusual, the sensational, the extraordinary, the unheard of–and then to force people to believe. We have come to believe that a service is valuable when many attend, a protest or demonstration is worthwhile when television cameras are present, a study group is worth having when many want to be part of it, and a church is successful when many desires to become members. The more insecure, doubtful, and lonely we are, the greater our need for popularity and praise.
The temptation to be powerful, we can not imagine that any good can come from giving up power or not even desire it. Power can take many forms, but it is always the illusion that life is ours to dispose of.”
As pastors and ministers, as members of a congregation, as lay speakers, as District Superintendents and Bishops, as Elders or Local pastors we face these 3 temptations all the time, and we feel that our worth will come when we can fulfill these three areas, I know that I can felt into this very easily. Thinking that my worth as a person, pastor or husband will come from being relevant, spectacular and powerful. Thinking that unless I fulfill these three areas I am being productive. So when I measure myself with other ministries and congregation, when I see the long process to become an Elder or try to be myself with my fellow ministers, when the position of a pastor has such a high stigma and when being broken, vulnerable and powerless is not a general rule; that is when friends like Jeff, John, Don and Tom can remind you that the call you have is given by Abba and that I don’t have to do anything to earn God’s favor. My question to you will be: Do you have friends in you life where you can be spiritually naked and still know that you are loved? May the aroma of good friends fill your life in every step in your journey towards the cross.