Somber New Year’s Eve

New Year’s Eve at church was far from festive. Our attempt at playing yootnohlee brought the dysfunctional out of some of us. A stray comment from one of the boys brought disapproval from both me and my brother. “What’d you just say?” we asked. My brother told him to do pushups. He refused. Smart-alec responses provoked him to extreme anger. I didn’t intervene, but honestly I wanted to hit and yell at the kid too for being a little punk. At the same time, I thought, does my brother still think that yelling at them like a drill sergeant will earn him their respect? They really ought to grow up and respect their leaders, but how respectable are we?

So we were gathered in that tiny room while my mom had to say a few words. I thought of what I could say, because I knew this was an opportunity from God to address issues I had never had the chance to talk about. It never felt right addressing behavior issues from the “pulpit.” So I gave my lecture, stern but unable to get angry and loud. I spent the rest of the night, including the midnight service, thinking about whether I was like that because I loved them and had no temptation at all to yell out of selfish anger or because I was afraid of confrontation and too weak to discipline with force. It was an insecurity deep in my heart. What kind of father would I be with my children? When I see all their sin, how will I react? How will I confront them and set them straight? I was afraid I would be too gentle and in the end, that is not loving, if they continue on the wide road.

What a sad and somber time of reflection it was as I sat in the pew. I thought of how pitiful Living Exodus Ministry was. I have no long-term vision for the church. I am a poor shepherd. When I listened to Grace and Andrew tell me about the retreats they were at this week, I felt so inferior. I am not a passionate, fervent, exciting, challenging speaker. My sermons are weak and don’t connect with the kids. I don’t keep them accountable. I don’t encourage them during the week. No jubo, no retreats, no prayer, no broken hearts, no changed lives. I don’t know what to do about it. I feel so helpless. I just want someone else to do it, and I would support them with all my strength. Where I am, there is much burden.

I am far from the man I want to be. Oh, helper and friend, I long to meet you and get to know you despite my lack of confidence and my feebleness. To share and confide, to love and cherish, to nurture and protect. I have much to learn. This anguish is much more real than any New Year’s resolution I can make. Through all of it, I am thanking God for breaking me.

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