One of the most difficult–and most profitable–ventures of my life has been a journey toward self-awareness. The ancient Greeks realized how important it is for you to ‘know thyself.’ The classical Greek philosopher, Socrates, championed this idea as well. But for whatever reason, I really did not begin the journey to knowing myself until about 8 to 10 years ago.
Maybe it was a mid-life crisis… Maybe it was the cumulation of stress from living cross-culturally… Maybe it was just God’s timing… Whatever the case, this journey toward self-awareness has been a long and difficult process, and is still ongoing.
Nobody looks good under a magnifying glass! But that is exactly what the journey to self-awareness is. It is self-evaluation. It is seeing yourself through the eyes of others. It is no fun! It is essential to growth as a believer in Jesus Christ.
In his book, The Emotionally Healthy Spirituality, Peter Scazzero writes, “At each season of our journey with Christ, whenever Geri [his wife] and I have taken steps to more clearly define who we are and who we are not in Christ, there has always been a consequence. It will happen with you too. But keep making changes. Be willing to tolerate the discomfort necessary for growth. Pray for the Holy Spirit’s power to continue. You are doing something that has never been done before in your history! In some cases you will be challenging deep multigenerational patterns. Expect that you may stir up some profound emotionality.”
As much as we need self-awareness in our personal lives, we also need it in the life of our church!
In my last blog post, we looked at “The Five Indicators of Church Health.” Church Health is a complex issue that includes not only the spiritual health of the church, but also the emotional health of the congregation. In Scazzero’s book, The Emotionally Healthy Church, he delineates six principles of emotionally healthy churches. The first of these principles is to “Look Beneath the Surface.” As a church, and as individuals, we need to invite God to bring us ‘self-awareness’ and transform those ‘beneath-the-surface layers’ that keep us from being like Jesus.
Self-awareness is something that many people struggle with—it’s something that I have struggled with for many years! Scazzero likens it to an iceberg. He writes, “only about 10 percent of an iceberg is visible to the surface. That is the part of our lives of which we are consciously aware… [many] live inconsistent lives because of forces and motivations beneath the surface of their lives, which they have never even considered.”
So what is going on in your life… below the surface? If we want to be an emotionally and spiritually healthy church, we must ‘look beneath the surface’ to see ourselves as we really are, not as we want everyone else to see us! The fact is that it is much easier for me to put on a facade of spirituality without ever taking the time to look deeply into my heart to see all that God wants to accomplish IN us to conform us to the image of His Son.
This is the reason that God allows difficult circumstances in our lives. Scazzero continues by saying, “unless there is sufficient discomfort and anguish, most will not do the hard work to take a deep, honest look inside.” Dr. Henry Cloud explained it this way, “We change our behavior when the pain of staying the same becomes greater than the pain of changing.”
So as we begin this adventure toward church health in 2016, I want us to begin by asking ourselves some difficult questions to allow God to transform your life—both above and below the iceberg.