This past week I had the incredible and highly intimidating privilege of sharing a thought on “Fatherhood” (the heart of a sheperd) with our church leaderhip team and network. I had a handful of stories to share on this topic, and I ultimately ended on sharing a story of my husband when he found out we were pregnant with our first child. I wanted to share with you my notes, hoping you’ll be encouraged as well. And I wanted to share a memory I have of Brother Dick. This memory is what coined the phrase “Embrace The Mess.” More on this special memory later.
One thing fathers (leaders) do is “Embrace The Mess.” For the sake of clarity, I want to define the word mess. In this blog post the word mess means: human limitations, weaknesses, circumstances we cannot control. I am not talking about sin.
Shortly after our first-born had arrived, Boston was making messes. Mess in his diaper, mess eating, mess with toys. The older he got the bigger the mess. Trevin and I learned to embrace the mess. Instead of letting it ruin our opportunity to find joy, and love stewarding this little life, we chose to embrace the mess.
Messes are a natural part of life. There are so many things we cannot control. Things that can be hurtful, stressful, cause anxiety, can be isolating, and so much more. And there are three kinds of messes, I have experienced in my life so far.
- The mess God will remove you from.
- The mess God will give you the strategy, resource and capacity to answer.
- The mess God will ask you to stand in faith and embrace, though it’s difficult.
Sometimes the hardest thing about messes, is that God might ask me to stand in faith, while he moves someone else, or gives someone else the answer to the same mess. It’s important that in our mess we don’t get distracted and compare. What is important is to look at our actions and embrace the mess. Here are two ways we can embrace the mess:
1. Upgrade our Thoughts (Think cell phone upgrade! What can we get rid of and what can we get that makes us better?)
Ephesians 3:20 “Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinity more than we might ask or think.” NLT
When I read this verse, I always get stuck on the word “think.” I start to challenge myself and ask “How big am I thinking about God in my mess?” “How much do I think God can do?” The Bible says God can do more than that!
2. Upgrade our Speech
2 Corinthians 12:9 “Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me.” NLT
I love that Paul, the Apostle, said the word “boast.” Think about it like this, “out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks,” (Luke 6:45) so what we are secretly believing will be the outcome to our mess, is what we will eventually say.
Let’s address the facts in a mess. We can’t ignore facts, especially when the bigger the mess, the more facts we might have to show how sticky this mess really is. But there are other facts we can’t ignore. Consider the following…
- God is on your side. Romans 8:31
- God is greater than those who oppose you. 1 John 4:4
- Nothing can separate you from God’s love. Romans 8:35-39
- The Bible will be your guide. Psalm 119:105
- People can talk all they want, what God see’s in you is what is true! Isaiah 54:17
- God promises rest when life is stressful. (A personal favorite of mine.) Psalm 127:2
- God is always with you. Joshua 1:5
- God wants the best for you, always have, and always will. Jeremiah 29:11
- You can always talk to God, and He is listening. Isaiah 65:24
- God has wisdom and grace for you! James 1:5 and James 4:6
- *BONUS* If you mess up, you can try again! Lamentations 3:22-24 and Proverbs 24:16-18
Can you be at peace where you are in your life? Trusting these scriptures as FACTS.
This list of promises aren’t just inspirational or meant to be only emotionally motivational. They are facts. The truth is, if we are going to have an accurate perspective of the mess God has asked us to stand in, than we must consider all the facts, not just the ones that are hurting or confusing us. How I think and how I speak can show me if I am (1) “carrying the mess” because I am here in the mess, or if I am (2) “embracing the mess” because I am at peace in the position God has me in.
Let me share with you a memory I have of Brother Dick. He is a father in the faith to so many. He started our church, an elementary school, a college, a publishing company, a fellowship that has influenced many in over 70 countries, and literally so much more. He is truly a spiritual father, a great man indeed.
When I was a teenager, I was at a conference and Brother Dick was scheduled to preach during the last session. I was really looking forward to hearing from him. In the middle of the conference, he decided to leave. You see, there was another church that had a situation over the last weekend, and that situation escalated and got messy as the days went by. Brother Dick left the conference to embrace the mess, a mess that wasn’t his, yet because of his “fathers-heart” he wanted to be there. I don’t know if he had all the answers to their issues, or if they would even listen to his wisdom. But I do know he chose to go anyway.
I remember sitting in the last session thinking, “Why didn’t he speak and then leave? He could have done both.” But the truth is, just like in parenting or another position of leadership, you are either truly embracing the mess, or not. The more I began to think about his choice, the more God began to speak to me about what true greatness is. He was a servant, who cared for people, the speaking opportunity wasn’t as important as the mess people were in. My definition of greatness was defined by his decision that day. It takes authentic humility to be great in the Kingdom of God. I believe fathers and leaders, embrace the mess, because they understand there is greatness in the mess. The power of God is at work in the mess, because that is where we rely on Him most. That is where we seek him, trust him, have faith, read the word and renew our minds. That is where we ask the Holy Spirit to fill us up and that is where we see miracles happen.
Our messes are seeds to miracles. What do you think God can do in the messy situation you are facing? The Bible says God can do more than that! (Ephesians 3:20) So begin to think bigger and speak faith. You might be the only one God has in that mess you are thinking of right now. Consider this, you are there representing God. You can do this my friend! If you are looking for more encouragement in your messy situation, please comment below or message me. I would be happy to pray for you! Be encouraged. God is near. He has your back and there is a bright future ahead of you.