Introspection is defined as, “looking into one’s own mind, feelings, and reactions,” and I will be the first to admit to you that I have never done a whole lot of this. I am not one to make a habit of self-analysis. I like to go with the flow and seek forgiveness when necessary or find a good excuse for my actions trying my best not to blame another for my lack of wisdom or impulsive action. Kim purchased a shirt for me in Charleston a couple of months ago. On this fine piece of apparel was a statement that seemed to summarize my lack of introspection and irresponsibility at times. The light blue cotton tee read: THAT’S A TERRIBLE IDEA…WHAT TIME?
Over the last ten years, for better or for worse, I have changed somewhat. I don’t think I have become self-centered but I have become increasingly self-aware of myself, my motives, and my attitudes. It seems introspection has become commonplace in my thought processes. God has used my current health situation and employment status to reveal my insecurities, my weaknesses, and my general approach to life. I have found some discoveries to be disturbing and even embarrassing at times.
Grady Nutt was a pastor and comedian back in the seventies. I heard him a number of times in various church and conference settings as he offered tremendous amounts of introspective wisdom, especially near the end of his life. At the time I had read some of his autobiographical information. He shared personal details about his life that I found to be quite unbelievable at the time. I discovered Grady had problems. He shared his vulnerabilities going as far as to write that he and his wife had been very close to divorcing at one time. It was then that Grady shared valuable insight from the edge. It was the product of introspection in a time of crisis. He diagnosed his problem with the help of God and human counseling. Grady Nutt said his problem was this: “He and his wife both loved Grady too much.” This information provokes some sort of self-assessment in my life whenever I think about his discovery.
Many of my problems in our family life, my church life, my social life, and my Christian life have come about because “I loved Andy too much.” Kim and I have had interesting points in our marriage like most married couples, and I have found many centered around the fact that she lacked appreciation for my greatness. In my early church years, some didn’t realize my tremendous giftedness and the church owed it to me to forego their own opinions and cater to mine. In my social life, I realized I never gave people time to share their stories and views. The loudest voice in the crowd did the talking and I often thought folks were fascinated with my stories when in fact they were astonished by my boorish behavior and the need to have the floor.
In my Christian life, I have had moments when I felt like God was indebted to me for putting my needs aside and entering the ministry when the truth is God knew I couldn’t do anything else. God did me a favor and I was too self-centered to see it. All of these entitlements and selfish behaviors were due to the fact that “I simply loved Andy too much.”
The introspection has been good for me and it has paid tremendous dividends for me here at good old PSBC. It has been a great eleven years because I learned from experience and looking within that we are all different with a variety of likes and dislikes and opinions. We often find ourselves comparing ourselves with other fallible humans and thinking we are somewhat superior when in fact we should be comparing ourselves to God in the flesh…Jesus Christ. We have our attitudes and beliefs and plenty of other factors that could divide us and make us a rather dysfunctional church family. I have striven to appreciate you all and you in turn have made me feel appreciated and loved in return.
Introspection, prayer, understanding, listening, and putting judgment on the back burner, even switching it off has proven to me here at PSBC that grace, mercy, patience, and above all love are what makes the church work. Thank you Poplar Springs for showing me this.
Thank you, friends.