I confess I’m not the best driver. It’s common for me to miss a turn or stop at a green light because I’m so focused on the story I’m telling to whoever is in the car with me. I also struggle, as many of us do, with overconfidence. I haven’t fully turned my head to see if anyone’s in my blind spot, but I’m sure no one’s there, so I’m just going to pull over. 😉
Last week, Tim and I attended a ministry conference in Atlanta, GA. The airport and our hotel were a distance from the conference center, so we rented a car for the four days we were there. We love our cars, but there’s something fun about renting a “new” car with all the high-tech functions our older, base model cars don’t have!
Not only did our rental car have a backup camera, it also had “Lane Departure” alerts, beeped to tell me when the car ahead of me had moved at a light, and most importantly, had super-helpful “Blind Spot Lights”. If a car was in the lane next to me, a light near the side mirror turned orange to alert me so I didn’t pull over and cause an accident!
Cars aren’t the only things with blind spots. As humans, we have an uncanny ability to remain blissfully unaware of our flaws, even when they seem painfully obvious to everyone around us. Maybe it’s because we’re too close-up in our own situations, or maybe it’s just that we enjoy living in denial, but whether we’re refusing to turn our heads or just don’t quite turn them far enough, we tend to miss things.
One of the themes I picked up at the conference was: A leader who wants to grow isn’t afraid to ask for critical feedback. As we listened to speakers present their ideas about how to do ministry well, we learned that much of our effectiveness in helping others comes down to our own spiritual and relational well-being. The way we stay spiritually and relationally well is through gradual change in the direction of growth – but we can’t change what we don’t see.
This Sunday at church, Pastor George talked about the importance of being honest about our sin and confessing it to God. Psalm 32 describes what happens to us when we don’t:
When I kept silent,
my bones wasted away
through my groaning all day long.
For day and night
your hand was heavy on me;
my strength was sapped
as in the heat of summer. (v. 4-5)
Unconfessed sin leads to the opposite of growth. But when we confess our sins, forgiveness becomes real and change becomes possible. George encouraged us to take a few minutes at the end of each day to pour out our hearts to God about the sin we’ve seen in our lives that day. He also suggested that we ask the Holy Spirit to point out to us any sin in our lives we might not have seen.
Verse 2 of Psalm 32 says this:
Blessed is the one
whose sin the Lord does not count against them
and in whose spirit is no deceit.
“Deceit” in my “spirit” is not only the result of sin I’m pretending isn’t there, but also the sin I don’t know is there. I can confess the sin I know all day long, but there are things I will never see unless I ask the Holy Spirit to turn the ‘light’ on and alert me.
Critical feedback is hard to hear, but my growth as a leader and a follower of Jesus depends on me not only receiving it from Him, but asking for it!