“A feeling of smug satisfaction with oneself or one’s achievements”
Whatever the enemy you are facing is, your first enemy is Complacency.
In your own home. In your own life.
We tend to look outward and see the marriage trouble, family problems, financial issues or career options and concentrate on them… but these things are not the first issue you and I need to deal with.
Start with your own complacency.
We have a massive aversion to real risk these days. Is your life too safe? Risk is often suggested for us by other people who would generally be unwilling to risk much themselves or give something that costs them a pound of flesh. I’m a pastor and people love to give me suggestions for my life and our church but I’m also a pastor’s kid who asks alarming questions like “So how’s YOUR marriage doing? How are YOUR kids?” That normally stops free and cheap advice for “others” and focuses them on their real issue: themselves.
There’s little point in freaking out about the enemy because the enemy is not really the problem. Look, if it wasn’t THIS issue it would be the next one wouldn’t it? The real question is “How do I create traction in myself?” When you have solved that issue you will be prepared to face most things.
I had a plumber lecture me about boiler controls because he had taken a “course” giving him just enough info to be dangerous (I’m a master electrician by trade and have a lot of boiler control experience).
Just the way he was talking about electricity informed me that he didn’t really know how it worked, so I did the only thing I could to explain it to him: I took a water line and showed him how electricity works using terms like “water” and “pressure”:)
The truth is that we get quite smug in our society. That smugness really blocks us from getting traction because we’re not looking for input when we already think we know everything. When our cup is already full it only wastes someone’s valuable time to try and pour anything into us. We don’t appreciate the value and it spills out uselessly as we actually become a poor investment of time for the person who knows more than we do.
A friend of mine had a guy leave their church once citing that he and his wife (the pastors) were giving input where no input was really wanted. Awkward things like marriage and parenting and finances were the issues and they simply didn’t want that level of vulnerability, or damage done to their image.
It is incredibly frustrating for pastors to watch something that’s obviously not working very well and is likely to self destruct within a few short years and leave nasty damage to everyone involved and then be told “Mind your own business!”
My friend’s response? “I’m not sure what you think my job actually is then…”
Yet how many conversations do we have with people years down the road and they always say the same thing “We have no idea what’s wrong with our teenage daughter, but IT ALL HAPPENED IN A DAY!”?
No it didn’t. It happened when someone who loved you and had walked in your shoes offered you some advice about parenting when that child was seven and you got all offended and had a pity party of Facebook and went back to doing things your way.
We’re smug and complacent and think we know everything. We supplement truth and principles with other things and run it all through the only thing that matters to us: our own personal filter.
“I’ll do what you suggest IF I agree with it!”
Well folks…. EVERYBODY IN THE WORLD DOES THAT! How’s it really working for you?
If I’m candid, many people who call themselves Christians are insufferably smug.
I have watched hundreds of families make decisions over decades as I grew up inside church leadership and absolutely LOVE when I hear someone say “God told us to do THIS!” (translation: we’ll be the exception because we’re exceptional!) (THIS being something that makes no sense whatsoever). No one is more exceptional than a principle and when someone in their smugness quits listening and starts lecturing me about things they have only ever failed at and transitions they have never successfully navigated, I stop talking and let them torpedo themselves.
Why? Is it because I don’t love them? Of course not, but they have just told me they’re going to do what they’re going to do regardless of any information that disagrees with them and have told me they don’t WANT my help (thank you very much!). More often than not they leave and try to justify it with some well aimed and unsubstantiated barbs that some people listen to because they have nothing better to do with their time maybe…
Breathe Corey breathe…
It bothers me a lot and I’m trying to figure out a way to change the trend in church culture to one of candor and authenticity if only to try and catch problems earlier and spend less time dealing with the fallout. That also means that people don’t like me much when I ask for and expect vulnerability. It is simply not something we value in North American society and it is killing our families and needs to stop!
We supplement the truth and principles with ourselves and our preferences. The final filter. The final say belongs to us and we don’t need your input! Don’t tell us something we don’t want to hear!
We create a world of illusion where we are right and anyone who disagrees with us is wrong wrong wrong! AND they’re probably out to get us too! Then we fortify ourselves in our rightness and close the door to people who ask awkward questions like “What the heck are you thinking right now???!”
Then we stroll over to social media to vent and carefully present or “create” our side of the story while beating our breast about the injustice of it all! If only people would understand us!!!
The first enemy is not OUT THERE. The first enemy is ME. Complacency. Self pity. Lack of courage. Lack of risk. Lack of community. Lack of real friends who ask real questions.
Is your cup already full or is it time to humble yourself before the bomb goes off?