There’s a voice that you hear, one that dreams, wonders and at times questions what you’re doing and how you’re doing it. There’s the voice of reason, that helps us to make wise choices and then there’s the voice that argues with you and tries it’s hardest to convince you to do things, say or believe things that we already know are not true or best for us. It seems to me that there are voices and then there are “voices”, the ones that rings true to what we believe and know to be true and the ones that lead us straight to the bottom of an entire carton of ice cream (that may be more than an illustration).
- The Vegetable Voice: I’m not talking Veggie Tales, this is the voice that leads us to make wise choices. This is the voice of reason and wisdom, it tells us the right path, the decision that will lead to living our best life and the voice that keeps us within the guardrails of safety. This is the voice that says by making one right decision now, you will reap benefits beyond what you can imagine. This is one small decision after another, or as Reggie Joiner says, “Time over time”. I think Mary Magdalene figured this out. As she followed Jesus, she became tenacious in the decisions she made for the truth of the final buzzer. She doggedly served, worshiped and learned at the feet of Jesus. The day after Jesus was crucified, we find her with the other Mary sitting outside of the tomb where they put Jesus. The text tells us that they came to prepare his body, but I imagine them sitting outside the tomb with expectation. She believed everything Jesus said, she was a first-hand witness to how redemption and unconditional love can transform a person. She didn’t go hide after Jesus was killed, in fact she was there, at the cross. But she also believed everything Jesus said and I think she was there because it was the third day! Day after day, she listened to “vegetable” voices. She knew the result of listening to other kinds of voices, she’d reaped the consequences of that already. Now… now she is fiercely determined to make the kind of choices that will reaped maximum benefit over time.
- The Ice Cream Voice: You know this voice. It’s the voice that convinces you that you deserve some ice cream for dinner because you’ve had a bad day. One spoonful of ice cream, leads to the entire carton, leaving you feeling guilty, bad about yourself and tempted to stop eating for the next two days (this just might be me, IDK). Whether it’s ice cream, that reality TV show that you secretly devour or your favorite red wine, there’s a voice that is destructive to us when we submit to it. This is the slow fade of one “small exit” from what we’re called to do, that can lead to “big exits” that build up over time and leave us with lasting regrets and unintended consequences. In leadership, this shows up in cutting corners, cheating or becoming callus to integrity. It also shows up by listening to the voice that creates doubt. You listen to the”they” narrative, or the “I’m so…” narrative, the “never” or “always” narrative. There’s an interesting scenario in the last chapter of Matthew verse 17… “When they (the disciples) saw Him, they worshiped, but some doubted.” I’m not going to get into the commentary about their doubt, but I do think it’s okay and actually normal for faith and doubt to be part of the on-going Christian experience. We all doubt, partly because it’s how we’re wired, partly because we can’t see the entire picture. But, it is only as we reject the doubt and step into obedience, that faith is forged and refined. We win our war with doubt simply by obeying Jesus mission command and not sinking into the ice cream carton.
There are voices, and then there are voices. Choices made time over time listening to either voice will yield an outcome. I want to have a Mary Magdalene fidelity; fiercely loyal, spiritually hungry and tenacious in faith proved by action by listening to the voice of Truth. When I fall to the temptation to listen to the ice cream voice, I always regret it. Whether it actually is a pint of ice cream, a word spoken out of frustration, cutting corners or any other type of small exit, it leads me to regret and self-loathing… not helpful. But when I stay the coarse, make wise choices for the sake of peace, love, fullness, obedience and His smile, well there is never regret in listening to that voice.
As leaders, you have a million dreams and decisions that weigh on you. What voice do you hear most often? Just by being aware of which voice we’re listening to, will help us to choose the right voice. How do you combat the Ice Cream voice of doubt, pain and fatigue? What steps can you take to reject that voice and consciously choose to listen to the voice that leads to life and fullness?