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Books for those in ministry organizations who desire to take their leadership, teams, governance, and ministry effectiveness to the next level.

19 Apr '09

Climbing out of a Hole

It has happened to each of us. We have dug a hole for ourselves by treating someone with lack of dignity, marginalizing them, holding bitterness or maligning them to others and our attitude and actions have hurt them and hurt ministry and possibly hurt the team with which we work. Bottom line we are in a deep hole that we need to extricate ourselves from.

Often, our first thought is "how do I get out without too much embarrassment:" Our concern is for ourselves rather than for the harm we have caused or the sin we have committed. It goes to the fallen nature of our hearts.

What we should be asking before we do anything is "How did I get here? Why did I do what I did? Was it my pride, my arrogance, my desire to get my own way? Did I not listen to others? Did I have an agenda that I was driving that got in the way of relationships, team process or the feelings of others? What sinful attitudes on my part contributed to what I did? Am I harboring bitterness, ill will or wrongly attributed motives toward others?"

Before we try to make the wrong right, we need to understand our own hearts and take a hard, surgical, painful look at how we got to where we got. Most people, even when they need to make things right, sidestep this hard look - it is too painful. But without acknowledging the true and full nature of our fallenness, our sin and how we got into the hole we are in, our efforts to get out of the hole will be less than perfect. Glossing over the issues will actually hinder our efforts to make things right.

Once we have taken the hard look, we need to come completely, fully, transparently clean with those we have hurt - whether it is one person, a team, or a group. It is not enough to apologize to those we have hurt if we have also maligned them with others. That is an insincere apology. It is an apology that makes us feel better but that does not acknowledge the full extent of our wrong and to others and until we are willing to make the full wrong right, we remain guilty for the sin we have committed against others that has not been dealt with.

Real repentance is all about humility. Humility takes place when we recognize and name the full extent of our sin and resolve that sin to the full extent of our ability. When we choose not to fully come clean our pride is still ruling our hearts because our true strategy is to apologize to the extent we need to but to continue to preserve our dignity. It is a disingenuous repentance that remains committed to protecting ourselves rather than fully acknowledging what we have done to others. It is a self-focused apology.

Finally, to the extent of our ability we need to make our wrong right with those we have gossiped with, maligned others with, or divided by our sinful attitudes or actions. This is the hardest step but until this step is taken we have not made right our offense. To not do so is to make ourselves feel good (we asked for forgiveness) but to leave the results of our sin (what we have said to others about another) simmering with its painful ramifications. For now there are barriers between those we spoke to about another that remain until we make right what we made wrong.

Wise men and women make right what they have made wrong. Foolish men and women do not. One is a way of humility. The other is a way of pride. One is a way of righteousness. The other is a way of the fallen sinful nature.

Climbing out of a hole we have created is hard, but it is possible, if we will humble ourselves and do what we need to do - all of what we need to do to make it right. The hole is dark. The sunshine of freedom at the top is wonderful. There is pain in making the climb out but the freedom at the top is wonderful. And we won't want to have to make that kind of climb again