I got a new chair for my office this week!
You might be asking, “Why did you need a new chair for your office?”
I’m glad you asked.
I needed a new chair for my office because, as it turns out, I have been leaning to the left (literally, not politically or religiously) for the last 3.5 years. This constant, daily leaning had basically bent my office chair permanently, and its new shape was beginning to become an issue.
It wasn’t until someone else pointed it out to me (thank you, Ben Hogan) that I even noticed how much I had been leaning, much less the effect that it was having on my poor chair. For years, I have been under the impression that I sat in my chair in a very “normal” way, and had no idea that I was causing such problems for this innocent piece of office furniture.
I was simply wrong.
As it turns out, I had been thoughtless and cruel towards my chair for this entire time, and I had given no thought to the consequences of my actions.
In the nature of full disclosure, I was told 2 months ago that I could get a new chair, but it didn’t rank very high on my priority list (to be honest, it fell just below “Matching up all of the stray socks that are in the laundry basket”). I was simply not incredibly motivated to fix this problem. The chair “fit me” at this point, and I was perfectly happy to sit in it for a while longer.
It was not until Pam Newman (a fantastic member of our office staff, and a personal friend) literally DROVE me to Staples last week that I began the process of finding a new chair. I did not find one that day, but today I did; and I am writing this article from the decidedly more comfortable (and more upright) position afforded by this fantastic combination of ergonomics, leather, and cool levers.
As I leave the office today, I will be wheeling the “leaner” to the dumpster with as much gratitude as I can muster for its years of faithful service.
This whole experience made me think of a few lessons that we might do well to be reminded of, as Christians:
1. It is very easy to miss our own shortcomings, faults, and “leanings.” Regardless of who we are, we all have our spiritual “blind spots,” don’t we? Perhaps unknowingly, we have all probably adopted and/or embraced some tendencies that are not necessarily healthy, good, or even right in the sight of God. Do we realize the effects that we have on other people? Are we aware of our true influence on those we spend the most time around? Is it possible that we have become arrogant, entitled, bitter, disconnected, or disobedient without even realizing it? As Paul told the Corinthian church in 2 Corinthians 13:5, “Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you? – unless indeed you fail to meet the test!” In other words, a regular, consistent, and brutally honest spiritual “inventory” would be appropriate for everyone who calls him/herself a Christian! If I had examined my chair on a weekly basis for the past 3.5 years, I would have noticed what was happening. But I didn’t.
2. Our unintentional “leanings” could be causing more harm than we realize. Is it possible that our tendencies are having an unintentionally negative effect on others; an effect that even they might not realize is happening? Even if these people have come to “fit us” (meaning, they tolerate and silently condone our behavior), is this the proper way to live our lives? For example, is my tendency to be negative causing my family and friends to become more negative? Is my tendency to be judgmental causing my children to adopt the same practice? Is my lack of ownership and investment in the Lord’s Church influencing others to remain uninvolved? What “leanings” do YOU have? Whatever they are, they are likely affecting someone else. As Romans 14:7 tells us, “For none of us lives to himself, and none of us dies to himself.” In other words, whatever our tendencies might be, we are probably having an impact on others, for better or for worse! There was NO WAY that my “leaning” WASN’T going to effect my chair, was there? As Newton’s third law states: “For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.” In terms of our relationships with others, this is especially true. We cannot underestimate the effect/influence that we have on others!
3. When others point out our “leanings,” we have TWO basic choices:
a.We can acknowledge the truth of their observations, be thankful for their perspective, apologize for any unintended effects, and make any necessary adjustments. This is the preferred – and biblical - option (I Pet. 5:5; 2 Tim. 3:16; etc.).
b.We can choose to be offended, angry, or uninterested in this information, deny any “leanings” on our part, and continue to “bend the chair.” To continue to engage in destructive “leanings” AFTER it is brought to our attention, however, is to willingly and blatantly flout God’s will for our lives (James 1:22-25)!
Unfortunately, when we choose this second option, we are usually doing something much worse than “bending a chair;” we are having a negative effect on a PERSON and/or a SOUL, and the effects could be eternal.
So, am I going to stop leaning to the left in my new chair? I honestly don’t know. I’m going to TRY, but it’s going to be difficult. As you can imagine, it’s hard to change this kind of habit; and after all is said and done, it’s still just a chair.
What I am DEFINITELY going to do, though, is to be more aware of my spiritual “leanings,” and to be open to the truth about the effects that I might be having on other people! So, if you see me “leaning to the left” (or the right) in a spiritual way, please point it out to me.
I promise, I’ll listen.
I would encourage all of us, as God’s children, to do the same.
P.S. – Special shout-out goes to Sara Rye for giving me the Batman cape. It is now on the new chair as well:)