The Kindness of Failure
Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it! That quote from Ferris Bueller’s day off also applies to discipleship and leadership in the church.
One of my hopes for Doxa is that we feel empowered to slow down and deal with the harder aspects of our lives. That might sound presumptuous but most people on the Eastside are extremely functional and that functional success can hide the brokenness we have on the inside. As the pastors of Doxa hear more and more stories, we see the brokenness that we are all so eager to have healed...but healing often takes time and attention.
When our hurts go unnoticed, unresolved, and unhealed, our suffering can tempt us to draw inwards upon ourselves instead of towards Jesus. We can prefer performance and morality over our real needs for grace and mercy. Even with those threats present, I’m confident in the sovereignty of God over our lives and the presence of the Holy Spirit amongst us to patiently and courageously draw us in. It takes courage to face the hard things in our lives.
Doxa, as you lead and disciple others, let there be humility in us. Arrogance should be a repugnant smell to us, and that starts in our own hearts. I pray we all aggressively kill that in our own souls and graciously confront it when we see it in others. God promises to oppose the proud and having experienced that discipline in a somewhat terrifying way a few years ago, I’m not interested in repeating that.
Unrepentant pride is a disqualifying sin for any kind of leadership role at Doxa, in part because it’s one of many things that Jesus railed against over and over again. Take his rebuke against the blind Pharisees leading the blind as an example. When we began Doxa, I'm thankful that a common mantra in our leadership meetings and plans for the future was "character over competence". I wanted us to care way more about our hearts than our performance. I'm thankful our pastors care about Doxa as a people, more than the tasks we accomplish.
What does humility look like in leadership? We must regularly ask Jesus, our highest leader, to search our hearts. Do we know and recognize that he sees us, thinks about us, hears us, cares for us, intercedes for and intervenes in our lives, and acts to save us? Do we feel lost or scared or like a failure? Do we feel unheard?
Doxa needs Jesus. There is no version of Doxa that glorifies God without Christ at center. That absolutely must be our frequent and constant cry. He is the one that finished all the tasks that need to be accomplished. Remembering his role and supremacy over all things is essential. Whenever you think of the highest leadership in the church and someone other than Jesus is primarily in your mind, that’s actually an opportunity for repentance. Whenever you are tempted to want to be more and perform better, to be more righteous, to be more moral at the expense of loving God, that too is an opportunity for repentance.
We can easily forget that Jesus sent the Holy Spirit to guide us, provide us with strategy, and lead us into truth. I personally have no other hope, no other confidence, no other vision for our church and for my life. Nobody else loves me, leads me, trains me, disciples me, like Jesus does. This truth is never to be assumed and fundamentally changes the way I get value for my life.
To be more specific, Doxa doesn’t give me value, nor do any of the other elders or staff; as far as value goes, the other pastors, staff, leaders, have no ability ot change my value. Because I love them, I eagerly invest in them at the discretion of what the Holy Spirit is motivating me to do and I make myself vulnerable to their input and submit my life to them in significant ways; sharing my failures in marriage, leadership and parenting and rejoice at the wisdom, love and care that I get in return. I know of no greater men that I would entrust my life to than the pastors of Doxa.
This next statement will likely strike you as odd: I want to see more things fail so that discipleship can happen in the areas of our self-sufficiency and self-righteousness. When tasks fail and we have under or over-exaggerated emotional responses, it is a great opportunity to ask the Holy Spirit and others we trust if they see something broken about our relationship to God. Humble people ask for help; they know they don’t see themselves clearly and they know their need is primarily for the grace of God. Humble people ask for biblical exhortation, eager for the opportunity to repent of sin (even when it’s painful) because they know they will get to enjoy God even more than before!
My prayer is that as we continue to fall more in love with Jesus. That Jesus would give us the courage, strength, and humility to love one another whole-heartedly…that the world might know we belong to Jesus. In a family of humble people, you experience an over-abundance of love in ways that demand a gospel explanation.
This means our lives would be evangelistic to those around us! I don’t think we yet know how good church can be; but I’m starting to get a taste of it and I’m so excited for the future. It's definitely time to buckle up as our next adventure unfolds!
Pastor Dave Cox