How do I respond to all the things?
How can I give to the people asking for my attention and still find time + energy to do the things I’m supposed to do?
How do I engage in life for just a few hours and not feel behind when I see the social media notifications, emails, text messages, missed calls?
If you’re a business lady or a friend or a wife or a sister or the president, you’ve probably felt some of the above to some degree.
A huge part of growing + thriving is that our span of influence expands too, and that’s a really beautiful, godly thing.
But sometimes, that also brings these really fundamental questions into play that can make us feel insecure. We start addressing our ability to respond to things, and maybe we end up feeling defensive or judgmental or go full-on Stepford Wives in a bid to juggle it all.
So today I want to talk about FREEDOM.
Giving you + me the freedom to choose what gives life, to say “this just isn’t my top priority right now” and be completely secure in that.
When we think about how many days of our whole lives are aligned toward not disappointing people, most of us would answer “a whole lot”.
We have this secret system of measuring how successful we are based on how we’ve made others happy. We feel like we’re not doing a good job when they’re not happy + we feel like it’s been a good day when we’ve met or exceeded expectations.
But here’s the thing: Jesus, the perfect man, often disappointed people. I mean, He really let people down.
There were so many times that people wanted His time + attention + miracles, but He pulled away. He didn’t always give them what they wanted and sometimes that upset a lot of people.
His ministry was really thriving and there were times that lots of hurting people needed Him, but He drew away. He let His mother + siblings down and they even questioned His sanity + deity. He disappointed the disciples when He wasn’t the political leader they’d hoped for. He frustrated people when He didn’t respond quickly enough with a miracle or a sign they were hoping for. He offended the religious leaders with His radical gospel.
Jesus disappointed people. But Jesus never sinned.
The motivations that governed Jesus’ decisions were so far removed from meeting the expectations of people — some of whom He really, really loved.
He knew that the fundamental question wasn’t whether He loved them, the question was how He loved them.
Jesus knew that we bless + help others best when we are most fully who God created us to be. And He lived it out every single day.
He didn’t love them by giving them what they wanted, He loved them by giving them what they needed. He didn’t love them by doing what they wanted, He loved them by doing what He was called to do. He loved them by completing His mission, all the way to the cross.
And if Jesus did it, could it be that we might disappoint people without sinning either?
I’m not saying that we’re never at fault when we disappoint people, because sometimes we are.
But sometimes? Sometimes we disappoint people because their expectations are not what God would have us do. Sometimes we disappoint people because we choose to obey God and it’s not the choice they wanted us to make. Sometimes we disappoint people because we’re about our Father’s Kingdom and not about this world.
Could we also take it one step further to say: Sometimes when we live in such a way as to not disappoint others, WE ARE SINNING.
Any time we are living toward the approval of men and not God, we’ve wandered off path. We’ve forgotten our mandate + purpose. We’ve made people our idol and their approval our master.
We are building houses on sand when we carefully construct our lives around the praise of man. It is a futile undertaking that we were never meant to shoulder, and it is a burden that will eventually wear us out.
Are there times when our obedience to God will result in the joy or approval of others? Yes. Definitely. It will always be a blessing to those whom God ordained it for.
But that shouldn’t be our goal. Our goal is to obey God, whether or not people understand or approve.
So here are some questions for you + me this season: Are we ok with disappointing people when we are faithfully obeying God? Do we need a little recalibration to where we get our affirmation/approval from? Do we need to change our belief system to know that there may be times when we’ve let others down but haven’t actually sinned at all? Is there some cutting-off that needs to be done in relationships that have reached a place of unhealthy co-dependency?