NLDC SERIES PART 3: “Everyone Is Human”
As I look over my life, I feel like I’ve always been seen as a nice, sweet, quiet, peacemaking, obedient, innocent girl. Some things, like the “quiet” and “nice”, are easy to spot. Most or all of those may be traits of who I am or who I grew up as. I’ve never really gone through a rebellious stage of my life, never really wanted to “get into trouble” as Sleeping Beauty from Groovelily sings. Even though God has made me to be the sweet peacemaker, that doesn’t make me any better of a person or anything even close to perfect or sinless. Well, through New Life, as I spent my life interacting with strange and interesting people I barely knew and then got to know too well, I discovered something: everybody is so very, very human.
I am no exception. Of course, I’ve always known I was a sinner and have had issues over the years that God has helped me through. But there’s just something about having to travel in a van for 10 weeks straight with 3-7 other people who are all a mix of wonderful, terrifying, passionate, temperamental, young, visionary, stubborn, scared, rebellious, in love with God and sometimes even people on the teams that… well, brings out the good and the bad in each of us. And really gave me a chance to see myself at my most flesh-like.
I have been selfish, petty, insecure, jealous, self-righteous, fearful, indecisive, worrisome, distracted, weak and self-pitying as a teammate and leader. I have spent hours holding a grudge over the tiniest little thing that nobody meant anything by. I have backed down from responsibilities that were mine because I was overwhelmed by them. I have made decisions as a leader that I then took back because I was scared of what other people thought about it. I have disliked people. (Gosh, that’s the worst. Luckily it never lasted long, as God helped me through it.) I have gotten easily annoyed and snappy at innocent teammates. I have lost focus of God and those we were ministering to, to focus on my relationships and on my fun. I have joined in the thrill of gossip. I have let guilt overwhelm me and let myself become so discouraged I couldn’t function in my role. I have focused on myself too many times to count.
But it’s not just me. It’s the whole church, the whole world. Every single person on my teams, no matter how long or how short they had been a Christian or been in ministry, has had their moments of losing their temper, getting snappy, being selfish towards each other.
One of the things I tend to do without realizing it is that I put certain people on pedestals. Generally they are leaders, or the “popular” people, or the experienced people… basically anyone who intimidates me (which is mostly everybody). My first initial reaction is to put them up high as someone I look up to and expect a lot out of. It’s not necessarily a bad thing. This means that I tend to have a lot of instant respect for people, particularly leaders, and I try to look for the best in everyone. But sometimes I forget that people are human, and then when they make a mistake it can throw me off.
That happened many times. I’ve seen people I look up to rebel, yell at each other, gossip, act selfishly, lose their tempers, not fulfill their responsibilities, and become overwhelmed with discouragement.
Whenever that happened, I had to readjust my way of thinking about them. Not that I necessarily thought less of them, but their actions helped to change my perspective from a flattened mindset of simply “oh my they’re so awesome and perfect!” to a fuller picture of who they really were, the good and the bad. There may have been times that I was disappointed, but another thing that comes with being human is that nobody’s got it all together. Everybody, whether they are the newbie that just came off the bus or the founder of the ministry, needs prayer and encouragement. Everyone makes mistakes, and everybody deserves grace.
I found myself developing a strong loyalty to my teammates, to my leaders. Seeing them struggle with some of the very same issues that I have found myself dealing with always made me want to be that much more of an encouragement to them. Not that I personally did that much. But I tried to pray for them as much as I could. I tried to always ask my coordinator what I could do for them. I tried to always listen with my heart when our Vice President was teaching. When I looked past their mistakes and their failings, their struggles and their insecurities… that’s when their passion for God and for ministry was always so obvious. It showed up in different ways: some of my teammates have had strong passions for leading worship; others loved to train their teams how to be excellent in everything they did; still others found joy in devouring and discussing God’s truth through scripture, while other teammates found purpose in staying up all night with the host and being an encouragement.
While we are all human, with failures and flaws and all that good old stuff that just, you know, comes with a sin nature, God saw fit to bring us all together. He put clashing and clicking personalities together to grow, to learn, to work together and serve. Our humanness is something that each and every one of us can relate to. None of us is perfect; we all need second chances. We all need forgiveness. And we all need grace . And thanks to Jesus, we’ve got it.