"I can do it myself now!"
The words every parent longs to hear, when they are surrounded by the tasks that a helpless baby demands. And yet, those same words can cause a parent to shed tears when they hear them spoken by that same child who is now a toddler grasping for independence. The milestone moments we witness as a parent when our children move from completely dependent to independent are both joyful and tearful. We all want our children to grow up, and yet, in those moments we ourselves have to also be willing to let go for their good. The untold story of any child's development is the change that it also causes in the life of a parent. With each milestone our children encounter, our role as parents changes, and the way we are needed continually morphs.
In our spiritual journey, the same scenario can play out, and all too often it is approached in a way that ends up causing more harm than good. As believers, we are all called to walk out our faith in the company of others. Building the church as one unit, a family, a body. In this structure God provides, we will inevitably become role models, helpers, mentors to others and in turn, others will become that to us. Yet we must also, like any parent, understand that as we journey, those roles will change and adapt to the needs of the people around us. Our role will lessen or intensify according to their maturity on the journey. We have to build into our lives the ability not just to nurture others, but also to release people into their next season. We may relish the fact that people need us just a little too much and therefore we don't allow them to get to the point where they can say, “Hey, don't worry, I can do this myself now.” Real leadership in any area of life is not only teaching and bringing people alongside you, but also positioning them to step forward into their next level of calling, even if it looks different than yours.
We need to be intentional in our roles as “parent” and “child” and must be willing to help grow each other to the place where we can do things with a confidence and certain level of independence. We don’t need to be “spoon fed” our faith forever, but eventually must learn how to feed ourselves. We cannot remain in the "nursery" spiritually — we all need to keep graduating to greater levels of understanding and therefore experience. Today, our question for you is: are you allowing those around you to say, “Hey I got this! I can do this now,” or are your insecurities and your pride keeping people in places for longer than they should be? On the other hand, are you someone who needs to have the courage to say to that person in your world: “Hey thank you for feeding me till now, but it’s time for me to try this on my own”? Let's not stunt one another's growth, slowing down the progress of God’s family because we are too scared to let people go or too afraid to recognize our own growth. Don't be fooled into thinking loyalty to God’s people is remaining in a state of immaturity and total dependence. Instead, realize like Paul did with Timothy, you need to challenge the people around you to grow in this way: “Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to preaching and to teaching” - 1. Tim. 4:13. He knew Timothy one day was going to help many others on their journey, so he needed to learn how to do this himself — Paul couldn't keep doing it for him. Let's be that kind of voice in one another's world.
Today, perhaps you can utter those words in an area of your life to your Heavenly Father who is always calling you on to greater levels of maturity and responsibility. Where can you say “Hey God, thank you for that push. Now I will also take a step of faith myself. I know You are for me, so I am going to step out and do this!”