Wednesday, April 17, 2013
Life Lessons - Deference
Some life lessons are best learned in a miniature situation. For me, a couple of these lessons came through camping. I was not raised to be camping person, so I started camping as an adult with my wife and family. In our early years of camping we used a tent, but soon graduated to a pop-up camper. If you've never camped, you may not have a sense of how small an area you have to work with, but suffice it to say, not everyone in a family can be up milling around at the same time. Patience is needed because you may have to wait for another person to finish getting her jacket out and putting on her shoes before you can take your place at the “kitchen” table to read. If you are already there reading, it may be that the frisbee that the kids want to play with is located in the bin under your seat. So you need to get up and move completely out of the way so that they can get the frisbee. This means the seat and back cushion need to be moved out of the way. This in turn may result in another person having to move a little to make room for this maneuver. It tests the willingness of each one to make allowances for the needs and desires of others.
So one key life lesson I've learned is that patience and deference are necessary and important. Deference means to give way to what others want to do, to allow them to do their thing before I do mine. That is, after all, what love is all about and God wants us to learn the lessons about love because that's the way He treats us.
Philippians 2:3, 4 says, “Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.” This pretty much sums up God's desire for us as Christian men. We are to esteem others as more important than ourselves. This means in the home we are to value the interests of our wife and kids more than our own interests. That means that when I want to do something and my wife or kids want to do something else, I need to weigh their desires with greater value than my own. This is not easy, especially for men.
All kinds of excuses come to mind. For example, if I always defer to my wife, I might never get to pursue my own interests. When we start to think like this, we begin to read into Scripture limits on what God expects of us. Surely he doesn't expect us to be deferential to the extreme, does He? Think through what you know about the Bible and about God and tell me where the end comes. God sacrificed in the extreme to demonstrate His love toward us and He wants us to go to the extreme to sacrifice for others. This is not easy.
The life lesson, magnified to me through the camping experience is that I need to be willing to defer to others and their needs and desires. If it means continual interruptions of what I'm trying to do, so be it. Others have interests in what they are trying to accomplish as well, so why would I think my things are more important than theirs? May God give each of us men the grace to live lives that demonstrate the deferential character of love.