This is what has been on my heart lately. Through my 30+ years of ministry and teaching and mentoring students in the Word of God, and meeting and counseling with young ministers and missionaries, it has become apparent to me how common it is for people to have blind spots. As I reflect back on my own life I can see where I was blind to certain areas of my life that needed correction. Let me share some examples and show you how to avoid these blind spots, and how to help others.
One of the biggest blind spots I had over the years was that of being a professional minister. The Spirit of the Lord showed me how at different seasons of my life the spirit of religion spoiled the simplicity and innocence of my fellowship with Jesus. There were different times when activity and performance became the king of all my service. My love for people waned. Demonstrating love through practical service waned. I lost a certain purity of heart as my motives became stained with self-absorption and self-exaltation and a ‘me’ first, ‘build my ministry’ mentality.
Ministry was no longer about caring for people and meeting their needs, but it was about preaching and teaching…it was about sermons and outlines…it was about statistics, numbers, projects and programs (these things are certainly not wrong in themselves, but we need to watch our hearts to make sure Jesus remains our first love). Thank God for the Holy Ghost who showed me the error of my ways! He saved me from being disqualified (1 Cor. 9:27).
Why didn’t I see the error of my ways earlier? Number one, because I was too wrapped up in the work of the Lord and less on the Lord of the work. Number two, I was just following the example I was given in Bible school to build my ministry (oh how important the power of example is!). Back then there was not a great emphasis on the need for personal mentorship, discipleship, and fathering.
True mentors will help you deal with blind spots. I believe this one critical blind spot cost me years of a lost reward. Why do I say that? Because the foundation of the entire reward system of God is based on the motives of the heart. The earlier you learn this lesson the less blindness will have a chance to develop in you as you mature.
Let me tell you that this particular blind spot affected every other area of my life. It affected my marriage and how I related to my wife. It affected all my relationships – with my elders, peers, and students. It affected my conversation, my conduct, and all my demeanor. When you do things from a self-focus you stain and spoil your spiritual garments.
Often sons can’t see certain things about themselves that fathers see. A good father sees much more than a son sees. This is true naturally and spiritually. Again, some of it is simply due to spiritual growth, as naturally, fathers having more light and experience in life. But some of it is just blind spots that people have which result from an un-teachableness or an un-persuadableness stemming from pride.
For example, I was also harsh in my preaching for years and had been told about it, but I reasoned within myself and judged it as boldness without compromise. I congratulated myself for not being a man-pleaser. In one sense my heart was pure, but in another sense, I was blind.
Over the years as I’ve grown and dealt with all kinds of people this has become more apparent to me. You could say that my eyes have been more open to blind spots.
As another example, after a number of discussions, email communiques, and counseling sessions with one particular couple, they could not see what the elders (including myself) saw. Without mentioning the specifics of this one case, I will just say that it felt like we were trying to convince them gently and in love that they were not a racehorse, but a mule. How do you tell someone that they don’t qualify to be in a certain leadership position any longer? How do you break the news to their proud and blind hearts that they are not a level ten missionary but a level three at best? How do you do that without totally crushing their motivation to keep trying? It’s not that easy, but it is necessary for growth. It is not only a personal mentor’s praise and encouragement that helps you, but it is the course corrections that he brings to your life that will bring long-term success.
Blind spots. There are marriages in trouble today because of blind spots. One spouse is always taking more than they give. One spouse has been dictating to the other, controlling the other, taking from the other and often they don’t even realize how bad the situation is. Sometimes by the time they realize it, it’s too late. Fathers often are blinded to how hard-hearted and provoking to discouragement they’ve become with their children. At times parents have the opposite problem where they spoil their children by refusing to discipline them. I see this often. In either situation the children usually grow up warped in some facet of their character or personality. All of these situations occur because of blind spots.
A person could have something in their character or personality that if not dealt with could ruin them and hurt those he influences. This is the reason for the 1 Tim. 3 qualifications for bishops and deacons/leadership in the church. This is the reason for older men and older women teaching the younger. It’s because they can see more than you see. But if you’ll listen to them you will sit on their shoulders and see more when you become their age. As it has been said, “one man’s roof is another man’s ceiling.” And the anointing is to double with each generation.
I’ve also observed how environment and culture can attribute to creating blind spots in people’s lives. We often place what culture teaches us above biblical standards. In poor countries I’ve observed how easy it is to buy out young ministers. Quickly they become slaves to the will of man who has the means to buy their souls. Working with our national African missionaries for years I’ve seen how many hurts are caused because of misunderstandings with money. Blind spots. Following after the money creates blind spots. Money, by nature, is deceitful, and if you’re not careful, it will blind you.
Blind spots can be avoided through prayer, humility, accountability, and being teachable. Blind spots are also avoided when you maintain a close personal relationship with trusted peers and elders in your life and allow them to speak into you. Likewise, you can only help others avoid blind spots through their agreement and permission. Everyone has a free will. With enough love, care, and wisdom, though, you can help open up people’s hearts and wills to God. I cannot speak into anyone’s life unless they give me a voice into it. Your gentleness and meekness can aid in helping others see the error of their ways.
Stay tuned for more…