Points to Ponder: The Terrible Two's and You

Points to Ponder
The Terrible Two's and You

I became especially aware of that Fruit of the Spirit called "patience" (stated more graphically in old translations, "long suffering") when my daughter was two years old. Go ahead and chuckle, but I'm not going with this where you may think.
Most people are aware of the "terrible two's"--the tantrums, the whining, the child's insistence that the world revolves around him/her, etc. Someone told me that ages three and four are worse. She was right.
But anyway, when Elizabeth was two and doing her lung exercises when her mother and I were not following her orders, I was becoming annoyed. That other "fruit of the Spirit", self-control, had to kick in a bushel or two to balance out the withering fruit of patience.
It occurred to me then that as a pastor I had become accustomed to 50-year-old folks acting like two-year-olds; but I could not tolerate so well the two-year-olds who act like two-year-olds. I can not count the number of times I have seen grown men and women, who have been active church members longer than I have been alive, adopt the attitude of "UMPF! I'll just take my toys and go home." It is very sad in the church of Jesus Christ when elders, whom the children are called to respect and emulate, behave like the children (or the children's children).
When Nehemiah went back to Jerusalem to organize his people and rebuild the walls of the city he finished it in 52 days. It was his call from God. He and the people followed through despite hostile opposition. Families were assigned sections of the wall, and with a weapon in one hand and building tools in the other, they worked as a team on restoring the city which God called His own.
However, despite the call of God, the prayerful obedience of Nehemiah, and the team spirit of most of the people, there were those who had an attitude.
"...the Tekoites made repairs; but their nobles (elders, leaders) did not put their shoulders to the work of their Lord." (Neh. 3:5 NKJV)
Other elders and leaders, even the priests and their families joined the work. If you read this fascinating book of the Bible, you see that this one group of leading elders stands out, for all of history, as the group who did not do their part in the "work of their Lord."
I reflected on this passage as I thought of the rumblings that often occur during times of change. Some of most experienced and respected people will boycott out Sunday School and/or worship because certain changes were not to their liking. The above statement applies to every ministry I have worked with since seminary days, so I'm not targeting anyone specifically.
It is human nature, (especially when we are "the veterans who have been around for awhile"), to think that if the leader does not follow my way, he/she's not leading the right way.
This is the greatest disease of human nature; it is called pride. Like malaria it stays with you all of your life and occasionally flares up to attack.
I recall this "terrible two's" attitude in my self when I was active in planning the bicycle route for the MS-150 (a fundraiser for the Multiple Sclerosis Society). Because I had done this work for years, I was a veteran. But when new leadership came in with new ideas and other valuable expertise, I felt my resistance from within begin to rise. It was "my route". When I sensed this attitude beginning to flow from my mind and into my behavior, I pulled back and allowed others to take over route planning. In recent years I have helped mark the route, but I have no involvement in its creation. It was a valuable lesson in the sneaky destructiveness of pride.
Many a church--as well many other organizations--have suffered the divisive effect of the "terrible two's". When the good we do becomes a god we serve, it is best to pull back, go to your knees, and repent. It is sneaky. It is subtle. Often it begins as a good thing, done well, by good folks. Sure, every two-year-old looks cute and innocent at some hour of the day (usually during naptime); but provoke the innate pride within them and a monster suddenly arises.
Take a look at yourself. Have you become territorial? Are you allowing God's Spirit to lead as He wills through everyone involved, or do you insist on determining how it ought to be? Imagine those "nobles" in Nehemiah's day. They lost sight of the greater vision of God because they were so focused on self, on image, and on status.
How about you? Who's really in charge where you are?

This column can be found on the web at: www.fumcl.org and is downloaded for your reading pleasure. Pastor Whitmore is not affiliated with Picket News, nor does he submit any material directly to our publication. We regularly reprint interesting articles found at his public domain Web site and encourage all readers to visit this site to enjoy similar material.