There are people who do an excellent job in time management, thrive on managing resources and have proven to be very good in managing relationships to a degree.
They lead successful businesses, gain a great deal of fame and fortune, garner a large number of followers and maintain significant influence in their sector of expertise.
During all this, there is inside an emptiness that is never filled and the effects of that emptiness are only slightly glimpsed because they have developed and maintained coping mechanisms. These only further illustrate how the hardest thing to control at any time is the self.
Some argue that you can’t control anything else until you control the self, but I disagree. Time and resources management are skills that people develop over time. They budget well, live within their means, are punctual, productive in the business sense of the word and maintain the façade of respectability. Our society lauds these individuals, even though their self life is hollow and actually riven with turmoil and ever deepening complexes of shame, guilt, fear and pride. It’s almost as if our culture – for all its fascination with reality viewing – actually salutes those who can effectively lock up the real issues going on inside and not address them.
No wonder then that among the elements that fork the fruit of the Spirit is self-control. That is to say we need the Spirit not to have coping mechanisms that never address the issue. Rather we need the Holy Spirit to address those issues and lead ourselves to live in the light of the peace displayed by Jesus Christ. That self-control, that capacity to fruitfully manage our thoughts, feelings and will is the difference between living the hollow vacuum of existence or living abundantly as Jesus promised.
Followers of Jesus have that challenge in particular, because of who Jesus is and His commitment to live within us by His Spirit. These are easy promises to read and harder experiences to practice especially because of the tendency to build barriers through religiosity and pride. No one is allowed to see just how much I am struggling. No one is allowed access to the pain of failure and defeat I have. No one is permitted to really see my mess – and if they see it they can’t talk to me about it.
The more these barriers are raised, the less likely we are to truly experience God’s grace through the power of vulnerable and humble community. The less likely we are to experience that, the less likely we are to truly tap into the source of that Spirit that produces self-control because that is displayed by people willing to be intimate and transparent in their journey with Christ. They submit to His grace and His leading and that impacts their relationships so people become more aware of the power of God in their lives, not by spectacular works, but in the meek life controlled by God.
Witnessing characters like this has made me all the more aware that despite the culture of fakers, it is possible to live with authenticity. It is possible to manage the self. That’s an outcome worth pursuing to benefit not just the self but all who come in contact with me.
For His Name’s Sake
C. L. J. Dryden