Never Give Up

“You are so stubborn!”

I wish I had a dime for every time I heard that phrase growing up. My dad tried. He really did. He tried to teach me, mentor me and be a dad to me but all I wanted to do was ‘do it myself.’ I wasn’t interested in listening to my dad pour out his wisdom for me so I could glean little nuggets of truth. I wanted to do things on my own. Now, I understand that I am an experiential learner. Back then, I was a bad girl, disrespectful girl, rebellious girl. I was a hard head. I was obstinate.

I’d like to tell you that I’ve developed new respectful behaviors and learned how to patiently listen to others all the time. Wouldn’t it be transformational if I could now apply all the wisdom that has been freely shared with me over the years? But, I honestly haven’t changed that much. I have a tendency to evaluate things pretty quickly and I often make my decision whether or not I’m going to listen or disconnect and move on in a flash. I have learned to respect others and allow for differing opinions but it’s rare that I honestly listen and take what is said to heart.

This ‘do it myself’ mentality has been a tough way to learn my life lessons. But, isn’t it my decision to learn this way? The more I talk with people, the more I learn there are a lot of us out there. We think we can do things better on our own. We can be more efficient. We can get the job done with less hassle. We’ve convinced ourselves it’s just better this way—so just let us do it.

I’ve been rewarded for this behavior.  Others have acquiesced and just let me do it. I can make things look easy. After all, I’ve convinced myself that if I can do it, so can you! Anybody can do what I do. I’ve been celebrated for being trustworthy and able to initiate things. I get the job done efficiently with fiscal responsibility. I’ve earned the ‘good girl’ badge of approval and it’s very tempting to wear it on my sleeve so that you’ll notice just how good I am.

Now, you and I both know that the very thing that makes me strong is also my greatest weakness. That steely resolve or that obstinacy gets in the way. It trips me up, limits my influence and exhausts me every time. I overdo it. I’ve over valued my own opinion, my abilities and my stamina. The only antidote that I’ve found to combat my ‘do it myself’ sin-sick illness is humility.

Please feel free to ask me how my practice of humility is going. Anytime. Anywhere. I am sincere in my request. It’s the only way my obstinate, stubborn, hard heart can be softened. I suspect it’s the only way for all of us.

Jeremiah had some big conversations with God about stubborn, hard headed, obstinate people and God had plenty to say about them too. Both Jeremiah and God remained steadfast and committed to their tasks: Jeremiah to deliver God’s message and God to speak the truth to those he loved the most.

I think this is what endears me most to Jeremiah. He continually spoke the truth to people regardless of their ability to accept or understand it. A prophet is not welcomed in his own hometown and he found that out the hard way. Maybe Jeremiah’s message wasn’t limited to a group of people that lived 2600 years ago. Maybe his message is as fresh for me today as it was for them so long ago.

“You refused to listen to my prophets, who kept telling you, “Stop doing evil and worshiping other gods! Start obeying the Lord, and he will let you live in this land he gave your ancestors.” Jeremiah 35:15 CEV

Pastor Jen