How to Sidestep Your Daily Ego

Don’t you just love it when God drags His rake across the soil of your heart and unearths all kinds of junk below the surface? Well it happened to me recently. Just like it happened last year.

Michael W. Smith at NRB 2014

(Photo: Michael W. Smith at the National Religious Broadcasters 2014)

I just returned from the National Religious Broadcasters annual convention in Nashville. This conference is a yearly microcosm of the most gifted communicators, broadcasters, and creatives in the kingdom of God.

Some of the rest of us showed up too.

I’m going to be honest and a bit vulnerable in this post and share how I blew it last year and how this year started off headed the same direction.

Last year I was caught flatfooted. But this year I approached it differently.

Last Year, I Blew It

From 2010-2013 I served on the NRB’s Board of Directors, and last year I was up for reelection. As the names were announced, mine was missing. However, both of my colleagues sitting on either side of me were elected.

Now, imagine someone tackling you at the knees from behind. Or pulling the rug from beneath you, sending you into a wild flip.

  • I was not expecting this feeling of rejection. It caught me completely flatfooted.
  • The worst part came from the fact I knew my reaction had ego all over it.
  • God dragged His yard rake across the topsoil of my heart and showed me the pride, self-importance, and fear of man I had hidden beneath the surface.
Colleagues at NRB 2014

(Photo: A few of my colleagues at NRB 2014)

And that was just the beginning of the conference. I tried to leave my bruised ego behind, but it followed me for days like stink on skunk:

  • My radio colleague had graciously added me to her meetings with radio stations. My web colleague came to them as well. While I tried to be part of the conversation, often the meetings focused on radio and Web. But nobody wants to know what we’re writing. The focus is on how we can best distribute the content. The content is assumed.
  • My web colleague told me, “Man, I’m running out of business cards.” I had given out only one.

In short, I felt absolutely useless. A fifth wheel. A fly on the wall. Lint on the lapel. Irrelevance among the relevant.

This Year, I Anticipated the Tension

This year the elections came again, but I had a whole year to surrender to God the outcome. This time when those elected were announced, my heart was better prepared. The familiar ego pains came again, but anticipating them allowed me to surrender them to God.

For the rest of the week, I determined that rather than looking to my colleagues to affirm me in some way, I would instead affirm them. There was amazing freedom in this decision. Though it is still tough to hear your ego tell you that you don’t matter. Really tough.

new friend at NRB 2014

(Photo: A new friend at NRB 2014)

I like this quote from a book I’m currently reading, On Becoming a Leader, by Warren Bennis:

If knowing yourself and being yourself were as easy to do as to talk about, there wouldn’t be nearly so many people walking around in borrowed postures, spouting secondhand ideas, trying desperately to fit in rather than to stand out. —Warren Bennis

Last Year, This Year, and My Daily Ego

Although I had some great takeaways from the conference itself in terms of religious broadcasting, my greatest takeaways were spiritual ones. From last year and this year, I left with these two takeaways for my daily ego:

  1. Someone else’s giftedness or success isn’t God’s way of saying I don’t matter. When I think that, I’m nursing a proud and covetous heart.
  2. I can’t compete with the level of intellect, giftedness, and abilities others have. I have to be me and I need to learn to be okay with that. God is, so why can’t I be?

Tell me: Has your ego ever caught you flatfooted? To leave a comment, just click here.

P.S. Speaking of giftedness, some of us enjoyed listening to The Time Jumpers play one night. Here’s a clip I grabbed of Vince Gill singing “Long Tall Texan.” I really love his voice.

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