Stubborn. I can see it now for what I was, what I am, what I hope I will be less of going forward. Growing up without a father left a hole in me that I filled with complete stubbornness. I can’t remember when it started, but somewhere around my pre-teen years I didn’t want help from anybody.
Instead of asking for a ride to school or finding a bus route, I’d ride my bike several miles even if it meant I had to get up earlier than any kid I knew.
Instead of asking a friend’s dad to show me how to pitch, I drew a catcher on cardboard and nailed him to the fence and fired fastballs at him. Our neighbors must have loved that.
Later in high school, I wondered if I was measuring up. If I didn’t know something, I wasn’t going to admit it. I took every criticism from coaches and those in authority personally. If they weren’t validating my worth, I found it hard to trust them. If they weren’t for me, then it must mean they were against me. I closed myself off from their instruction.
And didn’t they know I was doing this “growing into a man” thing on my own?
I do remember how great it felt to hear the story of Jesus. The way it was explained to me demonstrated how I was sitting on the throne of my world. There was a clear picture of where things were going wrong. At 17, I was tired of running the show. I wanted God to sit on the throne of my life. Salvation came easy to a willing heart.
The stubbornness didn’t go away though.
I didn’t ask for help growing my faith and I’m not sure I knew how. Though I knew my sins were forgiven and I could look forward to an eternity in Heaven, questions about how to manage this life didn’t disappear. If I didn’t know the answers, I didn’t let on. And, I sure didn’t want to admit mistakes. My worth was still in question.
College, career, marriage – more of the same. Stubborn. I didn’t know the importance of discipleship and how it requires a Christian to ask for help.
Scripture is clear on the importance of discipleship.
“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” – Matthew 28:19
“And what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.” – 2 Timothy 2:2
“One who is taught the word must share all good things with the one who teaches.” – Galatians 6:6
“A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone when he is fully trained will be like his teacher.” – Luke 6:40
Discipleship is necessary for a Christian to bear fruit and grow the Kingdom of God. Stubbornness has no place in the process.
Over the years, my discipleship story bubbled into a melting pot of missteps, malfunctions, and a miracle of Jesus never giving up on me. I eventually learned to ask for help from other Christian men. It still continues and I’m learning how to disciple others as a result. I’m able to see the larger picture of how my brokenness helps others more than it hinders them.
Growing out of stubbornness has a lot to do with recognizing my worth in Christ alone and learning how to admit I don’t have all the answers and don’t need to have them all. This has to do with understanding the very same God who saved me wants a softhearted version of me to work through to benefit others for His glory.
After all, He’s the one with the answers.