January 18, 2008

We Need More Than Band Aids

This past summer my daughter learned to ride her two-wheeler without the training wheels. It took several days and quite a few crashes. For each crash her knees acted as the buffer between her and the ground. I thought her knees would fall off. She would get up, sit next to me for a few minutes, and then get back on the bike. When we got back to our house I applied the mandatory 326 band aids to her knees, and, probably more beneficial, mommy would provide the necessary kisses.

The band aids worked for my daughter's skinned knees, but wouldn't work for more serious problems. We would be upset if our doctor applied a band aid to our stomach to "cure" an ulcer. The ulcer is a deeper problem and requires a deeper fix. He needs to use something more than just a band aid.

I don't mean to demean the lowly band aid. It has its place. No medical invention has replaced the cheap, quick-fix a band aid provides. The band aid, however, can't replace the deeper healing of a prescription (and sometimes the prescription is just a more expensive band aid) or surgery. We would drop the doctor if a band aid were applied for such a serious illness.

But sometimes we take this same kind of short cut in our lives. We sometimes apply band aids when we should be applying a scalpel.

Be Transformed

The Apostle Paul told the church in Rome, "Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will." The remedy they (and we) needed is more than just a temporary, quick-fix solution. They needed something deeper; a transformation by the renewing of their minds. T

Their sinfulness, while forgiven by Jesus' sacrifice, needed a deeper work. They needed to apply God's forgiveness and allow the Holy Spirit to change them; to change them at their deepest level. Jesus' forgiveness was the beginning, but, to use an old churchy word, they needed sanctification (spiritual growth; becoming mature). In order to enact the greatest change you must work at more than just a surface level.

This deeper work requires more than just a quick-fix. That may seem like a "no duh" kind of statement, but I don't think it is. We live in a culture that believes anything worth having is worth having now. We have fast food restaurants that outsource their drive-up window order-taking because it cuts 30 seconds off the wait time. 30 seconds! I have rarely sat in a fast food line hoping for an extra 30 seconds...better food maybe, but not 30 seconds. But that need to hurry and get IT faster seems ingrained in us. The quick-fix fits the "right now" mentality, but doesn't really accomplish what needs to be accomplished.

Many take that "right now" mentality and try to apply it to their lives. They look for a band aid to get them where they want to be. They try to quick-fix their way into a deeper relationship with God. But spiritual growth and maturity does not work like that. It takes time and effort. I think that is why Paul often referred to spiritual growth as to athletic preparation. It is the long, slow, day-in-day-out work that enables the athlete to succeed.

More Than A Band Aid Living

How many times have we applied a band aid rather than the necessary scalpel needed for a deeper work? Have we taken the cheap, quick-fix rather than invest the hard work necessary to make real changes? I have been guilty of doing this in my spiritual life...expecting that next great revival or retreat to help me grow closer to God. I have done this in my leadership...just expecting people to follow. I have done this with many areas of my life, but I have learned a very important lesson.

Quick-fixes never work on the deeper problems!

In fact, anything worth doing is worth doing right, to steal a cliche. If you are going to take the time to address a problem, go to the root of the problem and start working there. Getting to the deeper problem doesn't mean people stop making mistakes. It just means that the quick-fix mentality is surrendered in hopes of discovering a more permanent solution to the problem. The goal is to get to something that is lasting and effective.

A few months ago I wrote about getting more consistent in my devotional life. I needed to stop expecting the next great move of God to fix my consistency problem, and just become more consistent. I stopped whining about not being able to get up early, and started going to bed early and making myself get out of the bed in the morning. I had to actually MAKE myself get out of bed. In time it became easier. I started spending consistent amounts of time with God, and as I worked on becoming more consistent I actually BECAME more consistent. I took responsibility for my part of my spiritual growth, and God was faithful to hold up His end. He was working before, but now I was allowing Him to work even more because I was available.

As I became more consistent, I realized how weak all the band aids had been in the rest of my life. They hadn't really accomplished anything of lasting value. They had stopped the bleeding, but they hadn't cured the root problem. So I began to apply this to the rest of my life, and, while I am not perfect at it, things have improved in many areas.

Here are a couple things I have learned:

1. Getting cured at a deeper level often hurts. Just like surgery. It hurts for a while, but the end result is far healthier.

2. I have to take responsibility. I can't blame anyone else for my problems. I have to take responsibility and put in the effort required to overcome my own desire to get it over with.

3. Real cures take time. I am not going to be able to be super-Christian, super-athlete, or super-leader overnight. If it smells like a rat...

What are some areas of your leadership that may need more than a band aid?
What are some areas of your spiritual life that may need more than a quick-fix?
What will it take for you do the deeper work?

1 comment:

  1. So very true Eric. I spent years applying bandaids, and since I didn't see the wounds anymore, denying their existence. Turns out, I needed open heart surgery and no bandaid would ever fix that.

    Having to get to the root of the issues was probably the hardest times of my life (still there) and having them pointed out to me only fueled my discontent.

    I wanted a list of what I was to do and not to do and be okay with following that. I missed the whole point. I did exactly what I was told and not told to do, but still treated my leadership with disrespect deep inside. I took the required courses and memorized the facts but I didn't let the word change me.

    I was double minded and inconsistent. Both problems I had to be the one to change.

    I too, am guilty of the microwave mentality expecting God to zap me and everything is alright, but was unwilling to do my part.

    Thank GOD he takes us around a mountain sometimes.

    I have to keep reminding myself when I feel like this is going too slow, that He controls time... and there is always enough to get it right.