By Corbin Hobbs, The Heights Church, Denver CO
A few weeks ago I was on a counseling call where I realized that “my spiritual britches were in a bunch.” That is a quote from my leadership counselor, Jim. I wasn’t aware that I had spiritual britches in the first place, but I was even more unaware that they were in a bunch.
In a sense, if you are reading this and responsible for leading anything – from a Bible study to a massive organization – your spiritual britches have probably been in a bunch at some point since March, 2020. You feel exhausted but there is still work to be done. You have decision fatigue but decisions need to be made. You sit down to spend time reading your Bible and ask God to move only to find yourself rushing through it because you have too much to do. From all of this, you feel uptight and it might express itself in anger or lingering sadness. What do you do when your spiritual britches are in a bunch?
In John 21 there is a scene where Jesus is restoring Peter and re-inviting him to follow him. It’s an incredible scene that shows us the extravagant grace and patience of Jesus. In the same way Peter had denied Jesus three times, Jesus re-invites him to follow him three times. It’s Jesus showing Peter and us that there is more grace in him than sin in us. It’s truly the best news in the world. Jesus restores him and then lays out the plans for his life. He would be the one to preach the sermon at Pentecost. He would be the rock that Jesus would build his church on. Jesus has great plans for Peter. But in the middle of this scene, Peter had something else on his mind. In v. 21 Peter looks over at his friend John and says, “Lord, what about this man?” Peter is playing the comparison game. And Look at how Jesus responds in verse 22, “Jesus said to him, “If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you? You follow me!”
There is a lot of pressure in life and ministry to be someone other than the person that God created you to be. It’s the primary reason that my spiritual britches get in a bunch. I’m sure you are the same way. We make the same mistake that Peter makes in John 21 as we start to worry about everyone else. And in that moment Jesus speaks the same thing to us that he said to Peter in verse 22, “What is that to you? You follow me!”
Instead of leading from comparison or fear or reaction Jesus invites us to lead from communion with him. The call that initiated our relationship with Jesus is the same call he is giving to us as leaders today, “You follow me.” I am learning that my primary responsibility as a spiritual leader in my home and in our church family is for me to stay close to Jesus. To lead from a place not of comparison or fear or reaction but communion with him.
So how do I get my spiritual britches straightened out? I use the silly acronym S.E.L.F. I’ll share it with you here and hopefully Jesus can use it to un-bunch your spiritual britches and bring rest and renewal into your life. Sometimes I use this over sixty seconds, other times I use this as the outline of a prayer and fasting retreat. It depends. Use it however you think it will serve you the best.
Typically, I’m moving too quickly. I’m trying to out-pace Jesus. That’s where that trouble starts. The first thing I need is to slow down. Maybe you need 30 seconds of silence or maybe you need an eight-week sabbatical. One thing is for sure, you need space to slow down.
Embrace your limitations
Jesus only calls you to be who he created you to be. We need to re-realize that we are not God and we don’t have to be. The pressure is off. We are finite and God knows that. We are only called to be faithful in the things that Jesus has put before us.
Listen to Jesus
Open your Bible expecting Jesus to speak to you. I heard a friend say once that the day Christianity got boring is the same day that we quite expecting Jesus to speak personally to us in the Bible. Ask Jesus if there is anywhere in his Word that he wants you to give your attention to. Then open it and listen to him.
After listening to him, determine to follow him. Or in more plain language, determine in your heart and make plans to obey exactly what he has said in your time of listening.
After all, Jesus is the one who said, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” It doesn’t sound like he wants us to have our spiritual britches in a bunch.