What I’m Reading Today: Galatians 3-4:31
Some of you might not know that I am the youngest of four children. Each of my three siblings are each a good number of years older than myself (7, 9 and 10 years to be exact).
As I reflect on my experience of what it meant to grow up as the youngest, I realized there were lots of advantages that came with being the baby of the family. Some of those advantages were superficial (i.e. I got to stay up later than my siblings were able to at the same age), and some of them were not (i.e. my parents had a different perspective on life that was informed by more years of living).
One of the things I benefited from most was my parents’ evolved understanding of what makes “good parents”. When my first brother came along, for example, my parents were extremely involved in nearly every detail of his day-to-day life. They made sure he ate his vegetables each day; they checked his homework every night to make sure it was done; and they stayed on him to make sure he was pro-active in terms of thinking about a future career. As a result, my oldest brother grew up extremely dependent upon our parents.
With each subsequent child, my parents began to pull back a bit more until finally – by the time I came along – my parents were comfortable giving me a healthy amount of space to make my own decision. As a result, I learned to take initiative and risks in life. That’s why I’m so glad to have been the youngest.
Of course such differences in leadership style don’t just apply to family situations – they can be applied to spiritual community as well. Paul – in his attempt to address his concerns about the religious control freaks that were using the law to manipulate people – said: “They want to shut you out of God’s grace so that you will always depend on them for approval and direction.”
Paul urged folks to reject such a model to spiritual life and embrace a faith-based approach that allowed individuals the freedom to develop and explore a dynamic relation with God for themselves.
As you go through life these days and experience challenges on many levels, what type of leader are you looking for? Someone who would barge into your life and solve your problems for you; or someone who would come into your life and empower you to take on the challenges for yourself? How you answer that question won’t just tell you what kind of president, pastor or role model you’re looking for; it will also reveal how you might tend to think about God as well.
Til next time…