With three toddlers and a prodigal teen, life can get… complicated. Add to that the responsibilities of maintaining a “hands off” approach to my wife as she learns what being a home school mom is all about, caring for the massive yard in the house we’re renting as if it were our own, working full time in vocational ministry, and occasionally picking up side work for a local low-voltage & home theater corporation, and you can imagine I must have a rather long, revolving door of a to-do list.
Ten years ago, waiting tables at a high volume restaurant, I make key decisions every thirty seconds, change directions decisively and deliberately on a dime, and probably walk 5 miles a shift in 50′ increments. My income depended on punctual service. Anticipating the needs of each table was a crucial skill – dining guests often keep a mental “balance sheet” of the tasks you do correctly without being asked. Get them done proactively, they chalk up “waiter points” in their mind. “He brought me more salad dressing just when I needed it and I didn’t have to ask! Ten points”! “How did he know I needed more sweet tea?! Five points!”
Fail to do an item or have to be asked to do it either doesn’t gain you points or penalizes you points. By the end of the meal, most guests leave you a tip based on the number of points they’ve calculated in this oft unspoken game. When your income is 100% tips, your ability to predict needs and address issues before they come up becomes heightened. Further, the consequences of having a guest ask you for something you should have already noticed becomes a sensitive, personal matter. You develop a sense of pride in your ability… leaving you vulnerable to financial and personal wounding when you drop the ball.
|Me and my bride – who is FULL of EXCELLENT IDEAS!
Occasionally, in my complicated life, my wife would ask me to do something that I had either recently stuffed into my mental queue or was just moments from getting done: just made a mental note to add batteries to the shopping list when I’d hear “Babe, we need more batteries…”
At times, this kind of thing wouldn’t bother me. But, on days when I’m deep in the flesh and aware of my greatest wounds, I’d be highly offended. I mean, how could she possibly think that someone as competent and proactive as I didn’t have a handle on our household battery needs?! How could the person closest to me DOUBT ME, the KING of PROACTIVISHNESS?! When I misinterpret this kind of feedback through the flesh instead of by the Spirit, I feel micromanaged. Ever feel preempted, cut off, micromanaged?
On days when I’m at my worst, my first response would often be: “don’t you think I’m already on that?!”
Considering Others Better…
Reading through James I came across a tough passage:
“But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. (James 3:17, NIV)”
In one of our better “working on us” conversations, I discovered that my defensiveness in these situations was hurting my bride and didn’t line up at all with this passage from James. I was clearly not passing on godly wisdom, rather lashing out to protect the pride I’d built up over being King. But, who wants to serve that king? I confessed my sin to Cristine and she explained that all she wanted in those situations was a little affirmation and confirmation that the task in question was as important to me as it was to her. The biblical, restaurant maxim “the guest is always right” (See Phil 2:3-4) applies here, clearly.
Immediately, I came up with a killer line. “Babe… That’s an excellent idea!” The next time she mentioned that we were low on an item that I typically restock and suggested I get it the next day when I was at the big orange store, I gave her the killer line: “Babe… That. Is an excellent idea!” She didn’t need to be berated, she didn’t need to know that I’m already planning to pick those oven vent light bulbs up. She didn’t need any of my pride. And, if I’m to walk in the Spirit, I don’t need to tell her anything that’s impure, quarrelsome, inconsiderate of her needs, etc… That’s prideful defensiveness and the hallmark of worldly wisdom. And, it’s a shame when you and I have access to God by the Word and the Spirit – the God who gives us wisdom generously and without the kind of reproach I was extending to my wife.
|Everyone’s mouth dis-
penses some kind of
wisdom. But, is it
godly wisdom or
So, now, we have a code – whenever she brings up something that I’m already secretly proactively planning or already have on the calendar or other list, I willingly give up my need for credit and say “Babe… That is an EXCELLENT idea!” What would your workplace relationships look like, your dating/marriage relationships, strained family relationships look like if you swallowed all pride, walked by the Spirit, and became a PEZ dispenser of godly wisdom – “pure… peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial, and sincere”?
May God bless you with the grace and power to honestly and sincerely overcome any pride or wounding you’ve had in this same area and to sincerely and mercifully pour out His wisdom and His character to be a blessing to all around you.