I’m home tonight following a two day Leadership Training Conference for our Upward Sports league, and as I always am after one of these weekends, I’m inspired, motivated and challenged…my passion for the ministry has been renewed and refreshed, and I’m recharged and excited to transfer the vision of our ministry to our volunteers and to apply my newfound knowledge and inspiration. I have to admit that during several of the breakout sessions, I was feeling pretty good. I was the one inspiring other league directors from around the country with some of the things we’re doing right in our league…things they’d not yet heard of or tried. And while I certainly picked up some awesome ideas from the group, I will admit I had a little pride welling up in my heart for the success of our first four seasons.

With the memories of dozens of positive and encouraging success stories of these first four great seasons fresh on my mind, I’m reading James again tonight…and I’ve promptly been put in my place.

“My dearly loved brothers, understand this: Everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger, for man’s anger does not accomplish God’s righteousness. Therefore, ridding yourselves of all moral filth and evil, humbly receive the implanted word, which is able to save you. But be doers of the word and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. Because if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man looking at his own face in a mirror. For he looks at himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was. But the one who looks intently into the perfect law of freedom and perseveres in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but one who does good works–this person will be blessed in what he does. If anyone thinks he is religious without controlling his tongue, then his religion is useless and he deceives himself. Pure and undefiled religion before our God and Father is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself unstained by the world.” – James 1:19-27

Wow! Yeah, from the outside looking in, it would appear that I’m good to go here. Nothing could be further from the truth, though. My daily life is oftentimes so lacking of real fruit, that I often question my own salvation…whether my decision was truly a life-changing event for me. Yeah…I usually get it right within the confines of the Upward ministry…but my fruits within the Upward ministry don’t always parallel my daily actions outside of Upward. I am, more often than not, that guy who “looks in the mirror and then immediately forgets what kind of man he was” because I often skim through God’s word looking for the highlight reel, rather than committing my uninterrupted time to studying it and impressing it upon my heart.

I’m not a selfless giver of my time and talents. I pass by those in need without stopping to help. I have lots of days where, if it doesn’t fit into MY schedule, it ain’t gonna happen. Those days when God places things in my path to develop my faith and strengthen my walk…I often see those as inconveniences, rather than opportunities. I’m ashamed to admit all that, but it’s who I am by nature…I’m human…I’m just being open, real and honest here.

And I have a REAL issue controlling my tongue. Those friends who know me through church and Upward might be surprised to hear that. My coworkers and acquaintances outside of church know what I’m talking about…because they see a different me. A me that angers easily…a me that swears often…a me that sometimes participates in gossip…a me that judges others…a me that is impatient and often very unloving. I think it’s this part of me that I loathe the most. I struggle daily to change this part of me…and I fail miserably every day.

Thankfully I have a Savior that recognizes my weakness. I have a God that accepts me for who I am…and meets me where I am…a Spirit that fills me with a longing desire to be and do better…a Father who forgives me daily…and loves me for who I am…not what I do. I have a Jesus who paid the penalty I deserve to pay for my sin. And I serve a God who doesn’t give up on me…and never will. I pray daily that I can become the man He wants me to be…and that you will one day know the same God.