Saturday, February 15, 2020

Learning The Hard Way

I am the Lord your God, who teaches you for your own good, who leads you in the way you should go.

This is what the Lord says—
    your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel:
“I am the Lord your God,
    who teaches you what is good for you
    and leads you along the paths you should follow.
18 Oh, that you had listened to my commands!
    Then you would have had peace flowing like a gentle river
    and righteousness rolling over you like waves in the sea.

Isaiah 48:17-18

Early in my career, when I was a first-time supervisor, I had to hire someone to fill a vacant position. After interviewing several applicants, I thought I'd found the perfect candidate. He had the experience I was looking for, was well-spoken, and said he was eager to learn more so he could advance in the position. I was excited to talk with my supervisor about this fantastic find, but she quickly crushed my enthusiasm when she heard the candidate's name.

"Him?" she exclaimed. "I know him. He would be horrible. He's all talk and no substance."

My immediate reaction was to defend my choice. "But he sounds so good - on paper and in person."

"Then you didn't ask the right questions," she responded, bluntly.

To put it lightly, I was not happy. I just knew I'd found the perfect employee. So, I stomped out of my supervisor's office. Like a three year old.

It was only after I'd spoken to this amazing candidate's former supervisor that I returned to my supervisor's office, tail between my legs. She'd been right. The feedback I got from the candidate's supervisor was not good and sounded vaguely familiar. While the candidate looked great on paper and knew how to talk a good game, he was lousy at follow-through, missed deadlines, and did shoddy work.

I apologized to my supervisor for my tantrum and, swallowing my pride, asked her what questions I should have asked.

Thankfully, she was very gracious. She didn't say "I told you so" and didn't talk down to me. She patiently helped me to see the things I should have been looking for.  I became a better supervisor because of the time that she spent teaching me.

No doubt, I've had similar experiences with God. Many of them. Here's the typical scenario: 

  1. He's recognized that I need to learn something and He's put it in front of me. 
  2. I, of course, refuse to learn, insisting that I know the best way!
  3. I fail miserably
  4. I turn back to Jesus and say "OK, you're right. I need to learn this, will you teach me?"
  5. He gives me a big, loving hug and says "Of course! I've been waiting to do just that!"
I'm sure He gets frustrated with me when we repeat the same dance every time. As Isaiah 48:18 says, if we'd just follow God's guidance, our lives would be peaceful!

Does this sound like something you've gone through? I think it's just human nature to think we know best. It takes a lot of confidence and humbleness to admit what we don't know and to reach out for help.

I pray that you are able to swallow your pride and ask for guidance when you need it. Since this is an ongoing growth area for me, I'd appreciate your prayers for me as well!

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