When my family moved to New York City to start Redeemer Presbyterian Church, we knew that it would be very time-consuming, especially given my tendency to overwork. From what I learned from other church planters, my life would be out of balance for about three years. That is, I’d be working longer hours than I could sustain permanently without endangering my health or my family relationships. So I asked Kathy to grant me these long hours for three years. After that, I promised, things would change. I’d cut back. Ok? Ok, she said.
But the three-year mark came and went, and Kathy asked me, as we agreed, to cut back on my work hours. “Just a couple more months,” I said. “I have this and that commitment that I have to see through. Just a couple more months.” I kept saying that. The months flew by with no change.
One day I came home from work. It was a nice day outside and I noticed that the door to our apartments’s balcony was open. Just as I was taking off my jacket I heard a smashing noise coming from the balcony. In another couple of seconds I heard another one. I walked out on to the balcony and to my surprise saw Kathy sitting on the floor. She had a hammer, and next to her was a stack of our wedding china. On the ground were the shards of two smashed saucers.
“What are you doing?” I asked.
She looked up and said, “You aren’t listening to me. You don’t realize that if you keep working these hours you are going to destroy this family. I don’t know how to get through to you. You aren’t seeing how serious this is. This is what you are doing.” And she brought the hammer down on the third saucer. It splintered into pieces.
I sat down trembling. I thought she had snapped. “I’m listening. I’m listening,” I said. As we talked it became clear that she was intense and laser focused, but she was not in a rage or out of control emotionally. She spoke calmly but forcefully. Her arguments were the same as they had been for months, but I realized how deluded I had been. There would never be a convenient time to cut back. I was addicted to the level of productivity I had achieved. I had to do something. She saw me listening for the first time and we hugged.
Finally, I inquired, “When I first came out here I thought you were having an emotional meltdown. How did you get control of yourself so fast?”
With a grin she answered, “It was no meltdown. Do you see these three saucers I smashed?” I nodded. “I have no cups for them. The cups have broken over the years. I had three saucers to spare. I’m glad you sat down before I had to break any more!”
Give each other the right to hold one another accountable. “Exhort one another daily, lest you become hardened by the deceitfulness of sin” (Hebrews 3:13).
With all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ.
Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep.
- What does it mean to “walk worthy of the calling” (v. 1)? Where are you stumbling in your walk?
- Why is it difficult for us to walk with humility, gentleness, patience, forbearance, and unity? What relationships are strained in your life right now? Why?
- Who is a “truthsayer” in your life, saying the things you need to hear? How did they get your attention?
- Are you called to speak the truth to someone? Have you? What holds you back?
- Who is someone in your life filled with joy? Who is someone weeping? How can you spend time with them?