This week I am attending my organization’s annual conference. It has been a great time of learning, fellowship, and growth. I have heard so many wise words from people I truly respect. I know that I will be chewing on the meaty content they provided for many weeks to come. Right now I want to take a moment to process one of the lesson that was shared at the beginning of the week.
One of our speakers, Charlene, taught about growth through the concept of boot camp. Growing up in Dad is like attending military boot camp. You cannot attend boot camp and not expect to be pushed to your limits, expanded, challenged, and ultimately rewarded. Blood, sweat, pain and tears are expected when you enlist. However, there is this misconception in the church that when we follow Him we are exempt from pain. There is a pervasive lie that if you are following Him and being obedient, believers will be spared pain. That is just untrue and not found in Scripture. Because of this lie we have unintentionally turned the natural process of growing up in Him to be a sign of failure. Instead of coming beside our fellow boot camp comrades and encouraging them as they grow to become more like Him, we silently (or worse outwardly) judge people for being processed into His image.
Like in basic training, maturing in Dad is also a bonding experience. When you have hardships and rely on Sisters and Brothers, your relationship is deepened. There is a critical piece of community that is missing when we do not support those around us who are growing. When we judge those who are currently learning a lesson that we have “mastered”, we are harming the imago dei in them and ourselves. We cannot forget the pain that comes during the growth process or we judge those who are still learning lessons we have learned and are not supporting them like we are called to do.
Charlene took the boot camp analogy one step further. After basic training, each of us are then enrolled into Navy Seal training for specialized training in different areas. All SEAL’s go through a few weeks of training together and then they have training in their specialty. Likewise, each person receives highly specialized training in a specific area that the Father really needs them to become a world-class specialist at. Charlene runs multiple businesses and has had many years learning money management principles. Everyone needs to learn to manage their money wisely, but since not everyone is called to be a professional businessperson the lesson is not as extensive as was for Charlene. She reiterated that we need to support whatever lesson our sisters and brothers are learning. Support people learning a lesson you might have already learned and celebrate the fact that their lessons seems harder than mine because that means that Dad is raising them up to be a powerful influence in that area.
This word has been very challenging and freeing for me. I cannot compare my growth journey to those around me. I am in an individualized booth camp and SEAL training that will turn me into the person that He created me to be. My lessons will look different from those around me because He is calling me to something unique. As a leader this word was also very convicting. If I judge those I am leading for “being stuck” or wish they would “just get over this” particular lesson, I am not being supportive of the work that Dad is doing in their life. I need to celebrate each lesson that people are going through. It is my job to encourage them to press into the lesson, to remind them that they are uniquely called and that this lessons is desperately needed for them to bring change and light to the world.
It seems so simple but yet is incredibly profound. I pray that I will be able to celebrate lessons and boot camp in a new way this year.