Friday, September 25, 2015

Leveraging Me for You

How can I leverage me for you? I’d scribbled this on a stray piece of notebook paper next to my laptop a week ago and it caught my eye after I hung up the phone with Pam.

She had just shared with me about the hot mess she had walked into when visiting a refugee friend she and her church have been walking alongside for years. I listened as she tried to wrap her head around the complexity of the situation and how she and the team were going to address the current crisis. She felt overwhelmed, a bit flabbergasted, and more than a bit uncomfortable. She wanted to get some space from something she couldn’t figure out, let alone fix.

The idea of leveraging me for you sounds so generous, so world conscious, so noble, so catchy. The reality I’m beginning to bump up against is that there’s a real cost to truly embracing and living out this soundbite.

I leverage me for you every time I choose to use what I have--my skills, my resources, my time, my emotional energy, my prayers--for you before I use it to benefit me. If you can look me in the eye and tell me this is easy or that it comes naturally, I think you’ve either never tried this experiment before or you’re fooling yourself.

The times I find it easy to be “all in” for leveraging me for you are when I get to swoop in and be the heroine. I love being your fixer. But when leveraging me means stepping in shoulder-to-shoulder, close enough for you to smell the stink of my fear and for me to come away with your snot on my shoulder, it gets real, really fast. And when I can’t find a solution because my mind’s reeling from the life of yours that has become ours--suddenly all I want to leverage me for is getting as far away from you as possible. I want to separate you from your mess, but I it’s hard. It hits me: I might be in for a very long haul with you. It might require me leveraging me for you for the rest of my life so that maybe you can some day experience wholeness.

And then I’m struck by another reality. The reality of Whose example I’m trying to follow. When man was barely “hot off the press” and the world had just been created, the whole perfect paradise went to hell in a handbasket. Did God decide to wash His hands of that hot mess and leave us to our stinky, sin-filled selves?

No.

He didn’t hesitate, but declared right then and there His commitment to the marathon of redemption, justification, and sanctification. God has been leveraging Himself for us ever since. In the fullness of time He sent Jesus to move into the neighborhood so that we could experience Him and be changed by shoulder-to-shoulder encounters.

Was it difficult for Jesus? Oh, I think so. He spent a lot of time in prayer with the Father so that He could do the work He was sent to do. That work was the ultimate leveraging me for you exchange, and it cost Him His life.

And that’s what He’s calling me to. Will I be willing to leverage myself for others, following His example and relying on His strength, even if it costs me everything? Oh, Lord; help me not to walk away from this hard yes. Show me how to leverage me for You, for their sake.

And mine.

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