Thursday, July 26, 2012

The Benefit of the Doubt

I'm fairly willing to admit my faults and weaknesses.  It's not always easy, but when they're pointed out to me or if I notice them myself, it's unwise to pretend that they don't exist.  One of my big faults is taking myself too seriously sometimes.  Another one is the difficulty that I have with giving people the benefit of the doubt.  It's easy to hide that when it's someone that's not too close to you, but when it happens to be your own flesh and blood, the realization stings and cuts deep.

Much of what I do as a worship pastor takes me away from my family.  I do my best to make up time here and there during my children's waking hours, especially when I am out during bedtime.  Occasionally, my children will inquire as to where I am going and sometimes even ask if they can tag along.  Usually, if it's not Toys R Us or Target, they politely refuse any offer sent their way to join me.

This past Sunday, I have one of those 12-hour days that happen sometimes.  After having a short break at home for about an hour, I needed to return to church for a 3 hour rehearsal followed by another 3 hour meeting.  Lately, my 3 year old has taken to needing his "Daddy time" and I have generally been happy to oblige.  He's a middle child and my wife and I have tried to be sensitive to that (her more than me as she's a middle child too). 

As I was walking out the door, guitar in hand, he informed me that he wanted to come along.  My wife and I made eye contact, speaking volumes in our looks, doing our best to discern what the right move was.  As she started to respond, I gave her that "I've got this" look.  I knelt down and explained where I was going to my son.  I explained that I would not be able to play with him or color with him but would be playing music the whole time that I was there.  I told him that it might be boring for him and that if he got restless, I would have to call his mommy to come get him.  He acknowledged that he understood all that I had said and ran to the car.

As I walked out the door, my wife and I made our plans for what would happen in ten minutes when I called her.  Still, there was a part of me that was kind of hopeful.  Maybe this time would be different.  Maybe he actually would not act crazy, you know, he is my son and all.  My wife handed me the "survival kit" filled with crayons, coloring books, and various other creative distractions just in case.

We drove the few miles to my church and walked inside.  I immediately began setting up and he took to coloring in the front pew.  As the rehearsal got started, he stood there, encapsulated by the sounds, staring up at everything that was happening in front of him.  He didn't yell, he didn't misbehave, he simply watched and listened.  Every once in a while, he would dance and one time he even grabbed a couple of pencils and began using them as drumsticks, not in an "I'm an annoying 3 year old" kind of way but almost as if he knew exactly what he was doing (did he?).

My wife came by after an hour and asked how it was going.  I informed her that he had done surprisingly well.  When she told him that he had to leave, he put up a fuss, more than he had the whole time that he had been there.  We agreed that he could stick it out for another hour, and he did.  There were a number of times that I could have forgotten that he was there.  He didn't act like a 3 year old, he acted like someone interested in seeing what their daddy was doing.

It wasn't until much later that night, after rehearsal and meeting were over, that I actually began to reflect on what happened.  I was still so surprised at how he had acted, but why?  Why could I not even give my own child the benefit of the doubt?  Maybe past experience had been too strong to be ignored.  Maybe I'm just a cynic.  Whatever it was, I could have stifled him there and then, but something in me thought I would let him try it out.

As I was recently reading for one of my classes, I stumbled upon this quote from Dr. Wess Stafford, president and CEO of Compassion International, "Allowing children into the mainstream of our lives lets them learn and understand their worth, not someday, but today.  The most precious thing we can give our children as parents is warm, positive memories.  More important than making cookies, getting the shopping done, or cleaning the house is what happens along the way.  Childhood happens!"  That's when this all hit me like a ton of bricks.

Time is no respecter of persons, it slows down for no one.  In the immortal words of Ferris Bueller, "Life moves pretty fast, if you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it."  We only have so much time with our kids to make an impact, to show them we love them, to spend quality time with them.  I am guilty of missing it sometimes, but I do my best to make the most of what I have.

In the book by Stafford that I was reading called Too Small to Ignore, he goes on to say that we need to integrate children into our lives more, let them know that they are meaningful now, not when they grow up and can be "more productive."  Like I said, it was a pretty heavy hitting moment for me as I put all the dots together.

My oldest son recently reported to me that I am the best dad in the world.  When I asked him why, he said because I make him laugh.  I was touched by the simplicity of his statement, but it also made me realize how important laughter and time are.  I need to find more times to simply laugh with my children.  I need to remember when they're pretending, that the ideas they have now could change the world some day.  I want them to know that they're important to me now, not when they could be "more useful" to me.

One day, they'll be on their own and I wonder what they'll remember.  Will they remember all the times I scolded them for playing ball in the house, or the times that I grabbed the ball, ran outside, and started playing with them?  Will they remember the times I told them not to touch my guitar or the times that they came to a rehearsal with me and got to see exactly what Daddy does?  I hope and pray that I can always remember to give them the benefit of the doubt, after all, someone did it for me, the least I can do is pay it forward.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Finishing Well

Joe Paterno.  Seems like the name along conjures up some fairly strong emotions these days, no longer just in central Pennsylvania or with college football fans.  Paterno coached the Nittany Lions football team for 26 seasons before he was fired amidst allegations of “looking the other way” when one of his assistant coaches was charged with sexual abuse.  He lost his battle to cancer at the age of 85 and some might think that a merciful end for a man whose legacy is now marred with decisions that he made…or didn’t make.

Now, not only has his reputation been marred by his sins of omission, but his legacy at Penn State is more than in jeopardy.  The statue outside Beaver Stadium has been removed, all that is left is empty concrete with the hint of what used to be there.  The statue of Paterno and the players that followed him has been removed.  Sanctions are being imposed on the university and it seems there are efforts to wipe even the memory of Paterno from the history books, or at least remove any indication that he was at Penn State from the eyes of any and all who might come onto campus.

Here are the words from's story, "Within 24 hours, Joe Paterno's statue at Penn State University came down and his record as the winningest coach at the top level of college football disappeared.  The steps by Penn State President Rodney Erickson and the National Collegiate Athletic Association drew sharply differing reactions Monday. They are the latest impact from a child sex-abuse scandal now linked forever to the university's storied football program.  Paterno's family and diehard Penn State loyalists condemned the penalties as an overzealous response that unfairly targeted the former coach, who died of lung cancer in January after being fired the previous November to end his 46-year career at the university." (For the rest of the story, click here: )

Sports can flesh out some fairly charged passions and emotions in people.  Big schools with big sports programs can have some pretty big fans and Penn State is no exception.  As time goes on, I am sure that more and more information will be revealed about things that happened behind the scenes at Penn State.  There have been accusations of favoritism shown to athletes, but that’s nothing new in colleges today.  It seems that stories are always emerging about the antics of athletes, both collegiate and professional. 

But the emphasis of sports in America and in our schools is most likely fodder for another blog post, not this one.  The real question that I have is regarding the latest debate at Penn State over the removal of Joe Paterno’s statue from the stadium.  Are the sins and indiscretions of this man whose undeniable football legacy enough to warrant the removal of a statue honoring what he accomplished?  Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.

I’m not condoning what Paterno did in his covering up, at worst, or looking away from, at best, the vile behavior of one of his coaches.  In fact, it stirs up in me a common question that I have asked myself over the last few years: how do we finish well?

Regardless of Paterno’s accomplishments in football, this is the last and only thing some people will remember.  Despite his success, there are certain people who can’t look past this.  It’s not like this is the only time something like this has happened either.  While I hesitate to compare the significantly different behavior, Pete Rose is still vying for a place in the Baseball Hall of Fame after the mistakes that he made in the end of his career.  Regardless of what Rose accomplished, his legacy is marred and may never be cleared up because of how things ended.

Paterno died too soon for anyone to fully understand or see how he would be reacting to all of this.  There is no way for Paterno to issue a public statement.  He can't hold a press conference and express his deep regret and offer apologies to the families of the victims.  He can't submit himself to discipline in order that he might try to make amends for what has been done.

The other night at dinner, I scolded my 3 year old for some of his behavior.  He turned his back towards me and said, "You can't see me doing this."  I was shocked and surprised that he would even consider that and my wife reminded him that we do the right thing regardless of whether we think someone is watching or not.  That's the definition of character, right, who you are when you think nobody's watching you?

Over the last decade, I have seen my fair share of people's lives end, not the least of which was my mom.  As the end drew near, my observance grew stronger and I watched to see how these people would finish.  The Apostle Paul likened life to a race that we run.  It's certainly no sprint, it's a long distance run.  In long distance runs, it's essential to pace yourself.  If you don't, you will find yourself not finishing well.

Of the many people who I've observed at the end of their life, there were some who finished well and others who didn't.  I recall a man who had been on the beach of Iwo Jima and survived.  He had a reputation in his earlier life for being a great Bible teacher.  I was not privileged to have observed that earlier part of his life, all that I experienced was the way that he fed many ill feelings of the members of his Sunday School class who were less than satisfied with changes taking place within the church.  He stirred up controversy and promoted division.  He did not finish well.

Paterno did not finish well.  His reputation in the future will constantly be remembered not by what he did, but by what he didn't do.  I am holding no stones.  I have failed enough in my lifetime to know better.  But what I can do is strive to finish the race well.  I can live my life consistently and choose to learn from the mistakes of those who have gone before me.  I do not want mistakes that I make or sins that I commit to mar any and every memory of whatever else I might have done in my life.

May we all learn a valuable lesson from this, not by casting stones, but by living our lives differently.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Music in the Church

While I'm no young buck, I'm certainly not an old man either.  In my experience within the church, having grown up with a father who was a pastor, I have seen my fair share of disagreements within the church.  Over my nearly 40 years of life, my over 8 years as a pastor, and my decades of experience within the church, among the most hotly debated topics within the church is the topic of music.  If you want to see someone get worked up and passionate about something, tell them you're changing the music style in your church.  Remember Wolverine with his adamantium claws?  Yeah, that's pretty much what comes out when the "discussion" starts.

Every time that I think that this topic has been put to bed, one more person opens the closet door and drags it out.  It just seems like we can't get past it.  Everyone's arguing that their style is the best or only way and hurling the most overgeneralized insults at those in opposition.  It's not so much a conversation as much as a debate or, even worse, an all out war.  In fact, the term "worship wars" has been thrown around on more than one occasion.

Recently, a gentleman decided to write a blogpost that reignited the whole debate and got many of my Facebook friends reposting his thoughts.  While it wasn't a video and probably nowhere near the criteria necessary to go viral, it somewhat felt that way as threads of comments lined the walls of my friends, evoking passionate responses for those who have dug their heals in on one side or another of this debate.  The link to the blogpost is:

The beauty of the internet and blogs is that we have the opportunity to throw thoughts and statements out with little relational connection to the readers.  That can be a strength or a weakness.  There are some who throw their thoughts onto a screen to be projected throughout cyberspace with no intention of listening to comments or feedback that comes back to them for those thoughts.  I don't get the impression that this gentleman is one of those people as he's opened up the blog for comments and has even graciously agreed to post some guest postings next week in response to his original post.

The greatest problem that I see with his post is his overgeneralization.  Any time you use the words "all" or "every," you are in danger of making a blanket statement that will inevitably be refuted by some exception somewhere.  While I have been guilty of this same thing in the past, I think I'm beginning to get the picture and learn my lesson.  His 3 generalizations regarding modern worship music were that they're really, really simplistic, they're all pulled from the latest Top 40 Worship channel, and they repeat.

Anytime that I find myself questioning tradition, theology, or anything else, I go back to the source from which I derive my ideology, my theology, and my worldview, the Bible.  I say that with hesitation because words on a page without inflections or tones can tend to be misconstrued.  The reality is that, as a follower of Christ, what I know about God has been revealed to me through His written word, the Bible, and his incarnate word, Jesus Christ.  When in doubt, those are the two things that I need to constantly keep in view.  As Hebrews 12:2 says, "fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith."

With that in mind, I thought I would do a more in depth search of what Scripture says.  As a "worship guy" within the church, this is in my wheelhouse.  The words that this man posted hit close to home and I wanted to search for myself.  Mind you, this isn't the first time that I've done this.  Years ago, sensing this debate coming to a head within my own church, I created a curriculum on worship called, "Touching Heaven, Changing Earth" (inspired by Darlene Zschech) that I used to teach those under my leadership about worship, biblically and historically.

The three criticisms seemed somewhat humorous to me as I read them.  Simple.  Popular.  Repetitive.  To be honest, I can't see anything wrong with those characteristics.  Of course, everything in moderation, right?  But what does the Bible say regarding these things?

The Bible calls us to worship the Lord over and over again.  We are told to sing to the Lord, lift our hands to Him, sing new songs, lift up His name, and many other requests and even mandates.  But little is said about the content of these things.  Of course, we have an entire book within the canon of Scripture devoted to singing to the Lord, but the Israelites were a singing and worshiping people and the story of God's people is well populated with examples.

In Exodus 15, the Israelites had just been rescued from the brink of death at the hands of the Egyptians.  The majority of the chapter is devoted to the song of Moses and Miriam, a song of thanks to God for protecting them and sparing their lives.  It's basically a story that was set to music.  So, Bruce Springsteen or Bob Dylan, if they wrote about God's provisions for them, could actually fulfill this criteria.

In 1 Chronicles 16, the ark of the Lord, the very presence of God, was brought before King David.  As the Israelites worshiped, they are told to use the song that David gives them.  Again, it seems that much of it is the story of God, how He has shown his faithfulness to His people.  Praise Him.  Proclaim His name.  Make Him known.  Sing to Him.  Glory in His name.

None of it is deeply theological from a lyrical perspective.  It's a simple re-telling of what God has done.  This is what gets me, over and over again in Scripture, I see the children of God being called to sing to Him, to praise Him, to lift up His holy name, but nowhere does it say, "Thou shalt use deep theology."  Will we be theological in our singing and worshiping the Lord?  Of course, but does that mean that we need to fulfill a certain extra-biblical requirement?

The history of the Church is a history that is replete with theological arguments.  Many of the creeds and confessions of the church were birthed in response to a particular theological divergence.  But nowhere are we called to clarify or defend our theology the way that these documents do.  Don't get me wrong, I think that they're great and helpful reminders to us of what we believe, but they are not necessary, nor are they biblically mandated.

The writer of this blog wrote, "Come to think of it, I’m pretty sure the theology in some of those camp songs was more advanced than the ones I’ve heard in some of your services."  I can't disagree, but what requirement are we trying to fulfill?  Where is the biblical requirement to be theologically deep within the music that we sing?

Philippians 2 may be the greatest biblical example of a theologically rich hymn.  There has been scholarly debate as to whether or not the hymn was Pauline or whether he had borrowed it from another source.  Regardless of that debate, the words that Paul writes are still fairly simple.  They tell a story, just like the praise songs that are recorded in the history of Israel.

We are a storied people, our experience defines and shapes us to be who we are, to think what we think.  Some of the greatest hymns are stories.  "It Is Well With My Soul" comes to mind and I can't help but think of the words of Horatio Spafford and the tragedy from which these words emerged.  "Amazing Grace" is another example of words embedded in story.  From a modern perspective, "Heart of Worship" is a great example.  If you don't know the story of how Matt Redman came to write that song, look it up, Google it.

Another of the writer's criticisms is the repetitive nature of modern worship songs.  Have you seen biblical examples like Psalm 118, where phrases are repeated over and over again.  Growing up, my dad did a sermon series in Proverbs for a very long time, long enough for me to ask him when he was finally going to move on to something else.  His response was, "I'll stop preaching it when we all start living it."  The same could possibly be said about the repetitiveness of songs, we'll stop singing them when we really start believing them.

Many modern worship songs are founded in Scripture.  Matt Redman's "Let My Words Be Few" is based on Ecclesiastes 5:2.  Hillsong's "Made Me Glad" is based on Psalm 144:2, among other Psalms.  Charlie Hall's "Marvelous Light" comes from 1 Peter 2:9.  There are many hymns that are founded in Scripture as well, but the author of the blogpost was not necessarily criticizing hymns.

The blogger's three requests for modern worship songs were that they be truthful, written for adults, and timeless.  I have no problem at all with the first one.  Written for adults?  Really?  Didn't Jesus say, "Let the little children come to me" and to inherit the Kingdom of Heaven you must have faith like a child?  Is there really something wrong with simplicity?  Yes, we need to move deeper in our relationship with Christ, but sometimes, simple is better.  After a week of Vacation Bible School, my kids were singing so many of the songs that I made them a CD for the car.  Were they the most theologically diverse and rich songs in the world?  No, but my 3 and 5 year old boys are singing them and, to me, that's a good thing.

When I think about my relationship with my wife, I don't fill every statement or compliment that I give to her with a treatise of why I love her, how I love her, or all of the characteristics that I love about her.  Sometimes the simple phrase, "I love you" is enough to encompass all of that.  Why must we be so complex in our expression of praise and glory to God?  Is it to make sure everyone else knows who we're worshiping?  If so, we need to refocus on the fact that we are not worshiping for anyone else, only for God.

Timeless.  Now that's an interesting word.  It honestly gets thrown around today the same way that "epic" gets thrown around.  Don't even get me started about these high budget movies that brand themselves as "Epic" even before they've been viewed by audiences.  Cecil deMille...need I say more?  But timeless?  Why?  The Bible calls us to sing a new song.  That might mean that we only sing it once.  It might mean that it's short-lived, but it's still supposed to be new.  Are we honestly going to toss away everything that isn't timeless?  If it contains Scripture, according to my Bible, it's timeless, because the Word of God is timeless.  Just because it can't be steeped within your own nostalgic record does not mean that it's irrelevant or worthless.

I feel like this whole post would be incomplete if I did not add my own suggestions moving forward.  Here are what I would term "action steps" for those of us to whom this subject means a lot.

Remember who worship is for - Each and every one of us is selfish, no matter how we mask it.  Selfishness is at the heart of the fall of humanity.  We are called to glorify God, our worship is for Him.  As much as we all like our own styles and have our own preferences, we need to realize two things: we are worshiping God and just because a style doesn't suit us doesn't mean it's wrong.  As much as we want to appeal to people to make worship singable and memorable, it still needs to be for the Lord.
Be theologically informed - In my response to someone's posting of the original blogpost on Facebook, I said that there are plenty of crummy hymns, worship songs, and worship leaders.  Part of why I have toiled and labored to get my Master's of Divinity degree is because I think that we need to be theologically informed, especially if we are leading people.  But the onus does not lay solely on those who lead, all of us need to be theologically informed.  If you are using Sunday morning worship services to get all of your teaching and theology, you're doing something wrong.  If you find something that seems to be theologically contradictory, follow the Matthew 18 model of confrontation.  In a world of social media, it's hard to do, but it's biblical.  Remember though, simplistic does not mean theologically incorrect.
Be diverse - Here's the one that I need to work on most.  I am always listening to new music, but I also get together with some of our more temporally mature members to sing hymns once a month.  There are enough good hymns to choose from that can be used corporately in any setting, I need to remember that, and so do all of us.  At the same time, there are plenty of modern songs that speak just as effectively, don't be afraid of them.  A few bad apples shouldn't spoil the bunch, from either perspective.  Crummy hymns don't make them all bad nor do crummy worship songs make them all bad.

I would be glad to hear comments from you.  While I have tried to be free of generalizations, I'm human and fallible, so therefore prone to error.  Whatever you do, in word or deed, in sermon or in song, do it to the glory of God.  Selah.

Just for those who may be interested, here is a list of other Scriptures that give us a clear mandate to worship or sing to the Lord:
- 1 Chronicles 16:23, 33
- 2 Chronicles 5:13; 20:21
- Psalm 7:17; 13:6; 33:1; 68:5; 95:1; 96:1-2; 98:1; 104:33; 147:7; 149:1
- Isaiah 12:5; 42:10
- Ephesians 5:19

Thursday, July 19, 2012

One Year

One year ago today, I lost my mom.  In some ways, it feels like such a long time ago and in other ways, it feels like it was just yesterday.  It's kind of hard to capture exactly what my emotions are as I reflect on what this year has been like.

I can honestly say that a day hasn't gone by that I haven't wanted to pick up the phone and call her.  I've stopped by her grave by myself, with my wife and kids, and with my father a number of times over the last 12 months.  Most of the times, I have just stood there in silence as I have attempted to make sense of the events leading up to losing her.  I've taken the opportunity with my boys to honor the woman who was so influential in their daddy's life.  My dad and I shared more than just a moment together as we stood by the grave of the woman who had so faithfully given of herself to us and so many others for her entire life.

My heart still aches, and I think it always will, but that's not a complaint.  I am who I am because of what has happened in my life and this year has been as equally formative to me.  It certainly hasn't been easy and I most likely would have never chosen to go through what I have, but I can certainly say that I have learned an awful lot.

My father has not fared well at all.  That has probably been one of the biggest struggles with the past year.  Dad was a wounded man prior to Mom's sickness and the wound deepened throughout her sickness and subsequent death.  He is only a shell of who he used to be and it's hard for me to know how I would have handled all that has been thrown at him in just 18 short months.  I love him and am so thankful for all that he has done for me in my life.

Every day, when I look at my little baby girl, I am reminded of the woman with whom she shares a name.  She is our "little" bundle of blooming peace and joy.  She and her brothers have provided so much therapy to me over the past 12 months (only 10 months for her).  I don't know where I would be if God had not blessed me with the family that He has.

I am grateful for friends who haven't tired of my constant references to Mom, hearing story after story of who she was, and being far more patient than I probably have been at times.  I have been supported by a community of faith that has shown me more love than I could ever repay them for.  Words seem trite compared to the gift that they have given me as so many have surrounded me during this time.

Today, I will walk a little slower, I will sigh a little bit deeper, and I will grow a little bit older.  I will probably share a moment with my family as we stand near the empty shell of my mom.  I am sure that I will shed tears, they seem inevitable at this point.  But tears are a salve that bring healing to a wounded soul.  I have fully realized the truth of the words so many have spoken over this year, that the pain doesn't go away, you just learn to live with it better.

As I drove to Williamsburg last July to honor my mother and her life, I read through Romans 8.  Paul's words have continued to provide comfort for me over this past year.  Paul writes, "For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have?  But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently."  My hope grows more and more each day as I anticipate the day that I will again see my mom.  I am constantly reminded of her faith and the One in whom she put that faith.  Paul goes on to say, "No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.  For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord."

I miss you, Mom, and love you so much.  My hope grows more and more each day as I wait for what I do not yet have.  See you again.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012


Once upon a time, I lived in a state where my vote didn’t mean a whole lot.  Since I moved from my home state of Connecticut, I have found myself, most recently, in a state that is a battleground state.  This fact has enabled me to be bombarded by advertisements during this highly political season.  Ads are everywhere, mailers are coming frequently, and it’s not uncommon for our house to get a number of phone calls throughout the week polling us on our views.

I’ve never been a highly political person.  Whether it’s our government, a business, or another organization, I have never fully appreciated the political systems that seem somewhat distorted throughout our culture.  I am grateful for my freedom and the opportunity that we have had in our country to exercise all of the freedoms with which we have been blessed.  As I have looked at the various political systems, not just government, it’s hard for me to be hopeful about significant change.  Not wanting to be completely cynical, I have to remind myself frequently that the greatest way for me to affect change is by changing myself.  The lyrics of “Man in the Mirror” come to mind as I think about the words, “If you wanna make the world a better place, take a look at yourself and make a change.”

All that being said, one thing that has been made abundantly clear to me over the years is the false notion of compartmentalization.  Our society has enforced the idea that we should compartmentalize our lives, not only should, but have to, almost mandating it.  While this is necessary and possible in some areas and circumstances, I just don’t see it being completely possible nor do I see it being completely healthy.

More and more I have seen that we are holistic people, things bleed over and overlap.  How we feel physically can impact how we feel mentally, emotionally, spiritually.  At the same time, what we are experiencing in our home life will impact what we bring into our work life and social life.  In modern psychology and counseling, entire courses and works are devoted to family systems and much is being discovered and studied about how our families of origin majorly impact what we do and where we go in our lives, both positively and negatively.

I was reminded of all of this in a conversation I was having with a friend about this current political season in which we find ourselves.  In the past, we have had presidents whose personal life was not as squeaky clean as some might have thought that they should have been.  There were many arguments on both sides of the coin, some claiming that what happens personally shouldn’t impact a person’s ability to perform professionally.  Others claimed that indiscretions committed by a person in one area of their life could be indications of indiscretions in other areas of their life.

Let’s face it, if I am a liar or a cheater, it goes without saying that it won’t be compartmentalized.  Is it really possible to lie only in certain areas of my life, thinking that it can be contained?  Eventually, we will find that like a boiled pot that is covered, it will eventually spill over, making a larger impact than we might have thought or planned.  Who I am when people are not watching me plays as significant, if not more, of a role as who I reveal myself to be to people.

When I really stop and think about it, this can be convicting as well as holding me accountable.  I want consistency, I don’t want there to be a difference between who I am when nobody is watching and who I consciously reveal myself to be to people.  If I am trying to cover things up, that takes energy and effort.  Eventually, I will grow tired of the lie and if my secrets are revealed, it could be painful and damaging.

I’m not perfect, but I do my best to let people see who I am.  There have been times in the past that I legitimately thought that I could successfully compartmentalize areas of my life.  It wore me out.  It could not be sustained, and I am glad for that.  Who we are when no one is watching has been defined as character.  If this is true, character is a constant, not a compartmentalized commodity.  I am who I am and it will be revealed…eventually.  My hope and prayer is that my character is consistent and not compartmentalized.  If I am not happy with who I am being when no one is watching, with God’s help, I can change, but attempting to hide it will prove fatal.  If I want to make a difference, I have to start with me, that’s the greatest way for me to affect change.