I’m sitting up in the sound booth during one of our conferences as my mind begins to wander… I’m musing over how long it has been and how much I miss teaching on an ongoing basis. I’ve always viewed myself as a “pastor-teacher” and thought the full effect/ power of my life is most felt by those “sitting” under my tutelage over time. I don’t think my strengths are suited as a one hour shock-and-awe inspirational circuit speaker. So… in the midst of my fond remembrances of teaching, God nudges in and, like a good friend interested in my story asks,
“When did you enjoy teaching most?”
I’m grinning ear to ear with an immediate response.
It was the college level theology courses I regularly taught at my church in LA. I’m beaming as I recall the seasons of waxing eloquent on Christology, Sanctification, Anthropology, and Harmitology…
Yep… you bet I was feeling groovy passing out my 70 page syllabus chock full of enlightening insights, profound perspectives, implications and applications… oh, and a ton of footnotes noting alternative views with their pros and cons, rabbit trails, sources, exegetical notes etc. etc…. after all, any serious book of note on God has lots of footnotes!!! I loved it, loved it, loved it! It was thorough, commanding clarity on the cardinal doctrines of the faith… full of footnotes.
And then, in a sagely all-knowing tone, the voice of a loving father God says, “Yeah… you were hiding”
Silence. One thousand one, one thousand two… one thousand six, my smile is now a gawking opened mouth with furrowed brow and questioning eyes.
He continues, “You loved it so much because you “found” validation there. Your syllabus and footnotes… your teaching was all a desperate strategy to win a little applause and fend off the haunting fear that you have nothing to say…. ”
So I stroll through memory lane thinking back decades to my stint in seminary and how I wanted to get a Ph.D. convinced that Doctor Craig McConnell would unquestionably have something noteworthy to say… right? Heck, I’d be an expert in the study of God! I’d be someone.
It’s taken a seven year hiatus from teaching to see, and it’s a bit embarrassing... a little tough to own one’s spiritual adultery, but here I was in the middle of a conference, admitting that one of my genuine strengths had been twisted into a godless quest for life… the abandonment of God for the affirmation of man. The blinded pursuit of a validation God alone can provide. Admiring my footnotes instead of crying out to the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob for the life I sought.
I’m sober, repentant and feeling invited into a deeper dependence upon God.
He’s smiling, I’m smiling and in an hour I’ll be speaking to 433 men. I'm no longer concerned whether or not I leave them smiling.
I’m marveling at the times and places God “shows” up to deal with some issue of our soul. Then again I’m not surprised at all, He’s always present… longing to be our God and more than willing to disrupt us in our adulterous pursuits
- Craig McConnell.