Ouch, ouch, OUCH!!! I really don’t like “humble-pie” moments, do you? Yes, I know the Lord works everything together for the good of those that love Him (Romans 8:28), but when you find yourself right in the middle of something that you really believe you’re supposed to do – and then it fails – I don’t like it!
Has that happened to you? And when it does do you accept it, or do you run away refusing to act like a mature adult? Well let me tell you of a time when this happened to me – and how I decided to run away like a spoiled little brat.
God can teach us in any way He chooses. Hebrews 12:11 confirms that discipline is certainly painful (amen!), but if we learn by our mistakes, God will use us more and more.
It started when I finished up my year-long mentoring group (Oh, Baby – I’m Cruisin Now), and the women’s ministry leader asked me to start facilitating women’s Bible studies at our church. It was a stretch at first, but I came to enjoy it more and more; eventually arriving to where “I” wanted to be the one in charge doing the wrap-ups in front of the whole class instead of the teaching leader!
Our pastor often tells us: “Be careful what you ask for…”
So one day I got a call from one of the leaders, who asked if I’d be interested in leading my own fall Bible study – all by myself – for a group of ladies. She informed me one class they wanted to offer the next semester was Bad Girls of the Bible by Liz Curtis Higgs – and I came to mind as being the perfect person to lead it. Obviously she remembered my testimony (He Really Cares for Me – I Think), so we had a good laugh over the phone.
I bought the book, and immediately fell in love with it. The author did an excellent job of merging bad girls in the Bible with her own made-up stories of how these same gals would behave in modern times. I decided to go for it!
The starting day arrived, and I found myself pretty nervous. Very few women had signed up for the study (which I found deflating) but I decided I needed to do the best job I could and try not to worry about it.
The first week 3 gals showed up – 2 of which had never even signed up; then the following week 3 showed up again – but with 2 that weren’t there the past week; and then the next week only 2 showed up!
Oh-oh, my ego was deflating rapidly… I truly must be a lousy leader. I tried to pump myself up, telling myself that God was in control, but I wasn’t doing a very good job.
The next week arrived and … no one showed up. I sat in the empty room for awhile not really knowing what to do, but then I left and walked across the hall to listen to another (popular!) Bible study which was going on. I could feel myself starting to lose all sense of sanity.
All of a sudden one of the ministry leads saw me, pulled me out of the room, quickly sized up the situation, and made an on-the-spot decision that I should call everyone and let them know I was discontinuing the study, and if anyone was interested we could meet separately on our own. I also was told to encourage them to get plugged into one of the other available studies.
But instead of listening to her wise council, I waffled… I’ll pray about it, I told her.
Finally I did what I had been asked to do, and called the gals. I passed along the information about how they really should get into one of the other studies, and then hung up the phone and started beating myself up once again.
So what did I, personally, decide to do after all of this? Did I pull-up my “big girl” pants and get connected with another study like I had been asking the other gals to do? NO… I started making excuses, deciding to sit out the semester. As a matter of fact I don’t think I ever went to another women’s study at that church.
Proverbs 16:18 warns us about pride. Instead of being patient and learning all I could under that special group of ministry leaders, I decided to run away and pout. It wasn’t until later that I realized the Lord had taught me a very important lesson – God’s ways are often very different than what we think, and sometimes He allows us to go through the fire so that we can be molded into what He wants us to become (Jeremiah 18:4)!