Temptation One: Strategize in Your Own Strength
Have you ever seen a really active dog who’s been held back and leashed for too long? When they’re finally set free to run, they charge ahead at full speed. After more than a year of restriction and caution, some of us might be tempted to act like that dog who’s finally been let off the leash. We want to charge ahead and do all the things we’ve been dreaming about. We want to release our passion and act on behalf of God and the world.
There’s nothing wrong with that desire to act. But, it holds a temptation. We can move forward so quickly, in our own strength, that we become blind to how God is moving, deaf to what his Spirit is saying.
God is gracious and patient. He’ll let us run ahead. And sometimes, in our eagerness, we run ourselves right into a wall we could have avoided if we had simply stopped and listened to God’s Spirit.
Let’s be careful to avoid the temptation of building our own kingdom in our own strength. Instead, let’s take time to understand what God’s spirit is saying and follow the spirit’s lead and the spirit’s pace.
Temptation Two: Back to Normal
The thing about a doorway is that even though it can lead you into a new room, it can also just as easily lead you back into the same room you came from. Liminal spaces are precarious. They have the potential to transform, but transformation is not a guarantee, it’s a choice.
This pandemic has shed light on so many things. It’s opened our eyes to pain in the world around us and made us more aware of the deep hurts of others. It’s shown us new ways to work, connect, and support one another. But all of this has been exhausting. We’ve had to adjust, juggle, learn, and adapt. Many church leaders are tired. Many of us are tired.
It’s tempting to want everything to just go back to normal—back to the way things always were. It’s easier to cling to the former ways, to return to what is familiar, than it is to accept a new reality among us. But to return to normal is to miss God’s invitation for newness, for renewal.
Pruning produces new fruit. New fruit makes new wine. New wine requires new wineskins.
This isn’t to say that everything needs to radically change. This isn’t an invitation to throw everything of the past out the window. However, we can’t let fatigue lead us to ignore all that we’ve learned this past season. We can’t let weariness determine whether we will keep moving forward and doing hard work, or sink back into our old patterns.
Wrestling with new ideas, alongside other people, ultimately brings new energy—new life. It keeps us humble and postured with a mindset of being willing to go wherever God might need us.
Let us resist the ancient voice that says, “Let us return to Egypt!” Instead, let’s take the opportunity to reconsider why we do what we do and discern with others if there is a better way forward.