Identify Your Blind Spots
- Friday, September 23, 2011
Blind spots. Even people who have conquered many of their personal demons and have blessed multitudes have blind spots. I suppose its part of what makes humans, well, human.
As I present the ReTooled & ReFueled Essential Christian Life-skills Seminar, I hear lots of sad stories. Yesterday a friend shared a sad story about another man who lost his job. In the conversation, my friend explained how he had worked for a successful evangelist. My friend explained that in the early days of his ministry, the evangelist had the tender heart of a pastor. And to this day he still has a gentle, giving side. But as he became more famous, he became less vigilant. The ministry became increasingly more focused on him. Others noticed this, and in his better moments, even he realized the problem.
My friend first went to work for this Christian leader because, as he put it, “I already have too many ‘yes’ men and I need someone who will hold me accountable.” Trouble is, when my friend fulfilled his job description, his employment soon ended. Despite all of his good traits, this man of God has some blind spots.
Here’s my question: Do we see spots? By that, I mean are we constantly searching our hearts and motives? Or do we choose to believe all the good others may say about us—and ignore the negative? Are we willing to look deeply and deal with our shortcomings—or do we deny, deflect, and disagree when others dare to point them out?
The Bible tells us that God “rebukes and chastens” his children. And I am grateful that he does. But the truth is, as one whom he has taken to the woodshed on many occasions, I don’t like it. It’s painful. It’s embarrassing. It’s lonely.
Some years ago, it finally occurred to me that maybe there’s a way to avoid some of God’s chastisement. Could it be that God works like we human fathers work? If they forced me to do so, I was always willing to rebuke, chasten, and punish my own kids. I did the hard stuff to help them avoid even more painful predicaments in the future. But I never enjoyed it.
“So,” I wondered, “could it not follow that God would prefer not to punish me either?” That led to the next question, “How do I avoid God’s chastisement?” Boing! The light bulb finally came on. Maybe if I behave better, God won’t have to discipline me so often. But to behave better, I must first see my errors. To do that I need to be searching for my blind spots just like windshield wipers continually remove the rain from the pane.
As one who spends less time in God’s woodshed than I used to, let me share some insights that I have found helpful.
1. Listen to your Father. One of the things God’s Spirit does is convict us of our sins. Awareness of our blind spots tends to come more readily when one is open and listening to God’s promptings in our heart. I’m learning that God prefers to tap me on the shoulder. He only grabs the switch when I don’t pay attention to his nudging.
2. Listen to your critics. Now this is a tricky one. I’m not suggesting that you take out a note pad for everyone who wants to give you a list of criticisms. Healthy living requires a thick skin. But spiritual health also requires that we maintain a tender heart. We need people in our lives who will help us stay alert to good behavior. These are trusted friends or mentors who have our best interest at heart, but don’t hesitate to grab us by the ears, nail our tongue to the floor, and get in our face when we’ve blown it. The minister I cited above would be better for it if he’d followed through this way with my friend.
3. Try hard to have “out-of-body” experiences. In other words, try to see yourself as others do. Is your behavior towards others the sort of behavior that would ingratiate yourself to you?
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