Wednesday, April 27, 2011
Never lead with the Truth
In a world of hurt and a life full of unanswered questions, where people simply want their problems solved, never lead them with the truth, they can't handle it.
It was one of the hardest things for me to listen to after two days of solid men's ministry training. During my ride to the airport with the man leading the men's program he broke me the news, "Kurt, I have spoken with our guys and while we appreciate your training, we've decided to bring these guys the truth [the Gospel] because that's what they really need."
To say I was taken back was an understatement. Quickly I remembered asking "Why?" would put this man on the defensive so I inquired, "That's an interesting position. What would lead you and your men to this conclusion?" His response was one that I hear quite often. "Well, none of us guys are very good at building relationships, and for the most part, we were challenged by what you said to meet guys needs first. So we talked and decided to do what we know best, bring guys the truth they so desperately need."
We still had an hour's ride to the airport together so as best I could I reasoned with this man, an elder at his church, to think back on his training and remember where we went over Jesus meeting peoples needs first - then delivering them the truth. I shared, "Whether it be a blind man, a crippled beggar or someone with leprosy we never see Jesus asking someone "What are your sins?" as the very first thing He does with people, do we?" Sitting their quietly for a few seconds he responded, "No, He didn't." Yet, going to a place which was comfortable to him, this man went back to his reasoning that his guys weren't good at building relationships and truly what people need is the Gospel truth of Jesus.
It was as if all the training they had spent money for with me and Guys For Life had just vaporized.
I can remember how painful it was thinking, "These guys are nailing their own coffin in developing a men's program" as he took my carry on luggage out of the trunk of his car. Time came to a crawl and it was eerie giving the typical church guy hug as we parted. Going into the terminal I found a window watching him pull away and I prayed, 'Lord, God reach these guys in a new way and give them the freedom to stretch their faith."
Not six months after their start, this man and his men's program folded in on itself.
Starting with the truth, the full weight of the Gospel, while in our gut feels right as Christians to give to other people as the first thing we do them it's not what people who are hurting actually need at the time. As my buddy Dirk in my men's bible study constantly shares, "The more stress people are under, the less truth they can handle."
Jesus knew that about us. He knew that as we get stressed, filled with anxiety our minds can handle only basic functions [heart beating, breathing, maybe even walking] and to overload the system with immeasurable truth would crush us. Therefore, by way of great example He showed us the way - heal their wounds, listen to their hearts, lift them up and meet their needs. In so doing He reduced their stress, relieved their anxiety and in addition reached peoples hearts and minds.
Once their problems were addressed their minds had the capacity to handle the full weight of the truth and He delivered it to them.
The same is true for us. Whether it be as husbands, fathers, friends, mentors or disciples - if someone is coming to us in great need, under tremendous stress or anxiety - meet the need first, and then follow up with the truth when they can handle it.
Here's a few examples to bring it home: Matthew 8:1-4, Matthew 9:27-29, Luke 13:10-13
Till next time,