Sawdust, Planks, and Blind Spots

             Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye (Matthew 7:1-5, NIV).

            I was about two years into a church plant and things were going well on every front, at least I david-and-tami-charleston3thought they were.  We had just moved into our second space, we had bought twenty something acres in a prime spot, new people were showing up, our weekend services were creative and relevant. 

            I was teaching a series on marriage.  I heard a neat talk by John a family counselor, he talked about how he and his wife spent eight weeks a year in counseling as sort of a proactive checkup.  It made for a good preaching illustration in my weekend message. 

            On Monday my wife gave me a call at the office.  She had set up a counseling appointment for us later that week.  She said something like, “It a little check up to see how we’re doing.”  All of a sudden I wasn’t so sure about the John Trent illustration.  I thought about it for a few minutes and decided that she (my wife Tami) had been sort of dragging tail.  It would be good for her.  At least that’s what I thought.

            It didn’t take the counselor long to drill into me.  He began to ask questions like, “When is the last time you took a day off?”  He continued, “When’s the last time you took a vacation?”  I told him about the upcoming John Maxwell Conference that I planned to attend with Tami.  He wasn’t impressed.  He kept pressing.  He challenged me to take the long way home and think about our session.  I thought he was a weenie.  After all real men worked 24/7.  I was convinced of that. 

            During our second session he asked me to come back alone.  I felt trapped, but I agreed to his terms.  This was the beginning of a slow and painful process.  The truth hurt!  Later I would learn that the truth that hurt was also the truth that would ultimately heal my broken relationship with Tami.  The strange thing is, I didn’t even know there was a problem.  I had a blind spot.  I was a workaholic and it was killing my wife, my two kids, and not to mention it was killing me. 

            Today nearly twenty years later I am enjoying the fruit of relational and emotional vitality.  My story has a happy ending.  Through this painful experience I learn the importance of nurturing vitality.  Now I get to speak to and coach numbers of church planters and pastors on how they too can win when it comes to the relentless ministry treadmill.  More importantly I am enjoying the fruit of a happy and healthy family.

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