Maybe You Need “Different”

2 Peter 1:5  For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness;

What do you look for in a coach?  The list will usually include someone who has integrity, who cares, who is knowledgeable, inspiring etc.  We will also probably look for someone who we can relate to, who we can easily get along with; in short, probably someone who is a fair bit like us.  While I believe the core character traits listed above are crucial, I question the need to find someone who is a lot like us, because my greatest learnings have come through people who were different than me.

One of the biggest learning lessons in my life came through my eldest son Josh.  My wife and I had the recent privilege of seeing Josh get married to his wife Onyi.  Being the first of our kids to get married, it was particularly meaningful.  In preparing a speech for the day, God reminded me of something very special about Josh – he was different than me.  You see I had figured out what our kids were going to be like before they were born.  My wife and I were high school sweethearts with lots in common.  We loved God and we loved sports; in fact our pictures still hang beside each other in our high school as Athletes-of-the-Year.  So of course, our kids were going to be sports nuts.  So, you can imagine my surprise when I rolled a ball to my son, just after he could sit up, and he ignored it and instead chose to build something with LEGO.  Later, by the age of two, he would play with dinosaurs and memorize their names (by their scientific name such as pachycephalosaurus).  He had incredible patience for these things.  My patience as a kid lasted as long as it took me to build a sandcastle that I could knock down with a finely placed penalty kick with my soccer ball.  All I needed was a ball and bat, or if they didn’t exist I’d find a stick and stones or pine cones.

I remember looking at Josh and saying, “God I’m not sure how to do this”.  What transpired over the years was that I had to learn to become selfless.  I had to learn patience, I had to choose to spend time with my son doing things that weren’t about me, but rather about what brought him joy. In the recent wedding speech, I said: “I am so grateful to God because Josh made me a better man”.  If God would have made him just like me, I would not have been stretched.  In today’s scripture, Peter says:

For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But whoever does not have them is nearsighted and blind, forgetting that they have been cleansed from their past sins. (2 Peter 1: 5-9)

One method God uses to “add” all of those things, is through people.  Often those people will be different than us, but our natural inclination will be to resist the process of sanctification.  It is much easier to either avoid those people, or assert our power to try to change them, rather than us.  It requires humility to be changed and God will not force it on us; it will be a choice.  I am glad I chose to change, and I am glad that God gave me the strength to do so, because had I not, I would have missed out on the greatest character building opportunity of my life.  As an interesting aside, being active was never an option for our kids (including forced homeschooling runs with mom), and today Josh and I go for runs together, play basketball, and he is a big fan of all sorts of sports.  It seems that God just needed to do some work on me first.

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