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A Surprising, Essential Quality You Need for Spiritual Growth


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When you see a group of friends roar with laughter after taking a selfie, you can bet they used a “warp app” to capture the moment. Like the funhouse mirrors of yesteryear, the app stretches our bodies and squeezes our faces to hilarious extremes. We have to laugh because the reflection has nothing to do with reality.

A Surprising, Essential Quality You Need for Spiritual Growth

(Photo: a recent selfie in Jerusalem)

I’ll never forget the day a friend poked his finger in my sternum and severely criticized me. I stood speechless, not because his words were true, but because his criticism mirrored the very flaws he manifested in spades. In censuring me, he revealed his own warped selfie—but this one wasn’t so funny.

Every one of us carries a selfie stick. We must. After all, spiritual growth requires we take a good look at ourselves—not only from our own vantage point, but from those around us as well.

Blind Spots in Plain Sight

No place in life we hold bestows a supernatural ability to see the truth. Have you noticed?

Our role at church, our position in the workforce, or our place in the home can, in some cases, do the exact opposite. If our self-awareness gets warped—and we see ourselves far different than reality—we can begin to push people in directions that merely prop up our fragile ego.

We’ve all known leaders who are oblivious of—or unwilling to see—their weaknesses. The emperor has no clothes, but no one has the guts to say so. In such an insecure environment, many people prefer to let the king continue the charade rather than to speak up and lose their heads.

Truth be told, we all have blind spots that hinder our self-awareness.

Chicken in My Teeth

Self-awareness means more than knowing the strengths and weaknesses of your personality. It also means understanding how others may react to who you are. One time, I asked several friends to give me some honest feedback. Ouch. Along with the affirmations, they opened my eyes to a blind spot in my character. Hearing their words felt like staring in the mirror after a social event and—horror of horrors—seeing chicken in my teeth!

I had no awareness of the flaw they saw. Honestly, I struggled to face the truth. I later went to each person and apologized for how I had blown it. And I’ve tried to pay attention to that blind spot since then. It was a tough assignment, but worth the work.

The book of Proverbs has scores of verses about the person who refuses correction. Here are just a few. Read them carefully:

The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man is he who listens to counsel. —Proverbs 12:15

A rebuke goes deeper into one who has understanding than a hundred blows into a fool. —Proverbs 17:10

Do you see a man wise in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him. —Proverbs 26:12

A wise person welcomes feedback. Only a fool thinks she or he has already arrived.

And in a way, they have. They’ll make no progress. Why? The problem always lies somewhere else. But it takes tremendous courage to dig the lint out of your navel, examine it, and own it.

Take a Selfie

(Photo courtesy of Unsplash)

Take a Selfie

I urge you rub shoulders with someone who can offer some honest feedback. (Families often get this without having to ask.) It isn’t easy to hear, believe me, but it’s essential. Is it disappointing? It sure can be! But like a doctor who discovers a spot on a lung, we know it’s better to acknowledge the issue and deal with it than to waste—and eventually lose—our influence because of our disregard of the disease.

The path to spiritual growth begins after seeing our true reflection—and understanding that God’s grace loves us anyway. Knowing who we are only makes it better if we deal with what we see. Trying to live by faking it may allow some to sidestep the truth for a while. But reality shows up in the long run.

Don’t filter or delete your selfies. Instead, take a good look. Authentic self-awareness plays an essential role in spiritual growth because truth wins in the end.

Our lasting legacy will come more from who we are than from what we have done.

Tell me what you think: When has honest feedback helped you? To leave a comment, just click here.

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