We have an awesome Men's Ministry at our [old] church. (I have to start clarifying...because if everything goes as planned this coming Sunday will be our last Sunday there.) We typically have a monthly 4M (Men, Meat, Message, Movie) night with anywhere from 15-30 guys. I attended last night's 4M and the message was on the armor of God. They're having an Advance (because we don't want to be retreating in our Christian life, we should be advancing) in November where they will be talking about individual pieces of the armor of God, so last night was just a generic discussion of the armor, or more specifically of the Christian life as a battle (one of my favorite metaphors for the Christian life, by the way).
Pastor Jeff led the discussion with several questions and most of it was just "hoohaa, I've heard this before, now I actually have to work to try to figure out how to apply it....." type stuff (if you've been in the church for anything close to a long time you probably know what I mean). However, there was one question that really stuck out to me and grabbed me. Jeff asked "Where are you most vulnerable to Satan's attack? Where does he most often strike you and where do you most often fall?" This is a question I've heard before thought about many times, but he put the question so directly that it really hit me. I thought of it another way "What thing(s) in my life keep(s) me from obeying direct commands from God? What ways does Satan tempt me so that when I have a decision for right or for wrong I will choose wrong?" This is a great question to ask yourself as well. What is it in your life? (feel free to comment)
As soon as he asked, I knew my answer. My biggest area of weakness (and she knows this and I think would be comfortable with me sharing it) is Dana. And no, its not what you are all now thinking. Yes, sexual sin is a weakness for any man, especially an engaged one, but that's not my biggest struggle. My biggest struggle is when there's something that I think/know that God wants me to do but I also think/know (although in my mind I always KNOW it for a fact) that Dana would not be a fan. I don't have any specific examples, typically they're too embarrassing to share...because when it actually comes around to it and I admit it out loud I realize that Dana wouldn't have cared one way or another and I was actually being very childish. But it happens with enough regularity that I would consider it my weakest point. But its not just with Dana, its with others as well. I just have this tendency to fear what others think (or so I always thought). But as I tried to articulate this to the men last night, I realized that that's not what it is at all. Because the fact of the matter is, I don't really give a hoot about what others think of me. I mean, to a certain extent any one of us likes to be liked, but when people fawn over me or tell me how great I am, it actually irritates me, but when people correct me or say things they dislike about me it is actually invigorating to a certain extent (not in a weird type of "I like to be hated" way, but in the sense that I like when people see that I'm humanly imperfect).
So as I grasped for words last night to explain this, to make sense of why I am so vulnerable in this type of decision making, it all of a sudden hit me. It's not that I care what they think, its that I care what I think! Its that, in my mind, I have created my perceived role in the situation and I must live up to that role, otherwise I feel that in some way I have failed. And for the most part, this is actually a strength of mine! It causes me to be self-motivated, it actually helps me make difficult decisions that may offend people, it causes me to be relentless in pursuing my calling, but it creates a problem when my view of my role is not God's view of my role, or even worse, when I think that it is my job to be God! Ultimately, for me, it comes down to a pride thing. At times I think that I have to do XY and Z, not because I really do, but because in my mind I am the only one who can do it, or because in my mind I need to do it or I will be disappointed in myself. And now that I realize this, I feel like it is very freeing, very liberating. Because, before, if I felt like God had something for me to do that interfered with my idea of what I needed to be/do for Dana, I would cave to my preconceived view of my role instead of to God's desire. And in my mind I justified it by saying that this is what Dana needs. But now, when such a situation arises I can ask "Is this really what Dana needs, or is this what I think Dana needs but in reality God (and possibly even Dana) see the situation differently?"
I thank God for this question that was asked last night that helped me to realize these things. I thank God for our Ministry to Men at church that gave the platform for me to think about and voice these thoughts in my head. And I thank God for Dana and all of the rest of you that put up with me when I try to be God for you instead of submitting to His will and design for our relationships.
Now I would challenge you to ask yourself, "Where am I most vulnerable to Satan's attacks?"...