As leaders, we often put our best foot forward and our brightest smile on when we in our leadership role. But many leaders may find they have very different feelings “behind the scenes.” This is a look behind the scenes in my life as I prayed feelings of forsakenness surfaced when I read Psalm 38.
“Do not forsake me, O Lord; O my God, do not be far from me; make haste to help me, O Lord, my salvation.” (Ps 38:21-22 NRSV)
The prayer, “Do not forsake me” sounds more like the expression of a hopeless or helpless heart than it does an accurate response to the actual nature of God in Christ. Didn’t Jesus say to me that he would never forsake me or abandon me? But I sometimes feel my attitude or behavior has been far too abandon-worthy. I feel I somehow deserve to be forsaken. So I cry out, like David that I would not find myself forsaken. I too often feel distant instead of close to you, Father, even though I know that you are closer to me than I am to myself.
I find myself feeling weary within, but it is not the weariness of overwork. It feels like the weariness of distraction. I could more deeply abide in you, whether or not I felt the fruitfulness of that abiding. I long to know your nearness. I hear in my heart an invitation to be silent before you. I find it hard to do that, but the “I” that resists quiet is the “I” that needs to be still. It isn’t the real “I” that is already with you in Christ. It is the old “I”, shaped by so many misguided attempts to get what I need apart from you, that resists such stillness. Free me from this old self that is only a mask of life.
I want to think thoughts that harmonize with eternal reality, instead of thoughts that sound so much more like a frightened child or a rebellious teen. I am a fifty-three-year-old man. You really are with me. And so my leadership, and my ministry, is an expression of this abiding and real life.
I have another book to write now. The other night, I heard in my heart a piece of counsel that this is another opportunity to share my life, which is to say to share from the fruit of God’s life in me. This is the story I am to tell. This is the wisdom for me to share.
I am never alone. I am never forsaken. I live, and move, and have my very existence in you. Always. Every moment. Right now. That’s the kingdom reality of my situation, and ministry is the overflow.
REFLECTION AND JOURNALING
- How do you deal with feelings like forsakenness?
- How do you pray them?
- How do you answer them?
- How do make your way to more deeply trusting your real acceptance by a loving Father?
- How do you lead from such a place?