Steven Furtick - Why Do I Act Like This?
This is an excerpt from: The God Of After
Now, one of the things I was talking about last Wednesday… I spoke to my staff Wednesday, and after I spoke to the staff, I spoke to a smaller group of 20 of the top new staff. I had a conversation with a young lady, because in the staff teaching, I was talking about how you deal with correction, or specifically, not fighting against things God is trying to send to help you in your life, which is something I struggle with. She had a follow-up question after the session I did with the staff. She said, "Well, when you're a fighter, and you're sitting there in the moment and somebody is challenging you or saying something that's really making you go crazy, and that fighter wants to rise up in you and fight back, how do you, in the moment, receive that interaction and process it positively"? I said, "I don't".
I never process positively in the moment…almost never. You don't either? But after… That's usually where a lot of my spiritual growth happens: after I screw it up and the Holy Spirit shows me, "Hey, you screwed that up. Would you like to keep screwing that up or would you like to have me show you how to stop screwing stuff up in your life"? I'm like, "Well, Lord, it just depends. What am I going to have to do to stop screwing it up? Am I going to have to go back and apologize"?
I want you to realize that spiritual growth is not measured by perfection in the moment but on your ability to go back after the fact and be correctable by Christ so you don't get frustrated with yourself. I told the staff member who asked me that, "Just yesterday, this guy honked at me". You know where this is going. With my Elevation sticker on my car… He honked at me, and he pulled out in front of me. Let me set this up for you. This fool, this brother… (I'm figuring out who I'm talking to today.) When he pulls out in front of me… I'm going the speed limit. I'm doing nothing wrong. I mean, nothing wrong. I can't always say that on the road, but in this particular instance, he honks at me, and he pulled out in front of me.
So, yes, I stopped the car. And, yes, I backed up. And, yes, I said, "Are you good"? But I smiled when I said it, and I kept my voice really low. He said, "Are you good"? and I said, "I don't know. That depends. Are you good? Because if you're good, I'm good, but if you're not good…" You know. I had to get all the way back to my house and try to think, "What made me back up and talk to this guy on the road like that"?
I mean, this guy might be getting baptized someday in my church. I don't know this guy. He might be some Special Forces. He might have something in the glove box that would make last Sunday my last Sunday preaching. I don't know any of it. I don't even think about it in the moment. I think about all that after. Then I tracked back, and I was like, "Why was I so uptight"? Why couldn't I just laugh at this blessed tool of the Lord for my sanctification and drive on?
I realized what we did right before that was take family Christmas pictures. My wife has me taking the family Christmas pictures now in August. Of course I'm edgy. Who wants to take family Christmas pictures even in December, let alone in August? Do you know all of the fights we have been through in family Christmas pictures through the years? Of course I'm a little edgy. I'm bringing this up as a humorous example at my own expense to show you how immature I can be but that I realized something happened before he pulled out in front of me and honked at me that made me back up in the middle of the road and act like I'm 13.
Sometimes, in our own lives, we never take the time after we act a certain way to back up and ask the question, "What was it that put me in that frame of mind to act that way"? So, then we just repeat the behavior over and over again, and the Devil just picks our lives apart because we never stop to ask the question after we act a way we don't want to act. I mean, that could have gone much worse. It ended up being a pretty mild story in my estimation of how it could have gone, but there are other things in my life that I look at, like, times when I am completely unreasonable, and I have to go back sometimes and ask, "What was it before that…"? I think that's what Peter means when he says in verse 8, "Be alert and sober-minded".
To recognize, when the Enemy attacks you, where you are most vulnerable to his attacks. Without asking that question, you just repeat the same stuff over and over again. Some of my best growth moments in God have been after my worst performance moments outside of God, where I go back and ask, "What was it"? Have you ever had something you did where you were like, "Well, I know it wasn't that that made me act like that. So, what was it that made me act like that? What was it that made me so irritated about something that was so insignificant? Why did something so small, like a pebble in my shoe, cause me to walk so crooked"? Sometimes, when you go back and look at it, you're like, "Oh, yeah! That's what it was".
In the process of taking those family pictures, I think I was very stressed, and I think I was a little sad because I'm sending my son off to college next week. I'm not going back on all of this to blame it but so that next time I come up on it I can beat it. Sometimes, when the Enemy attacks you, you act like it was a surprise attack, but if you would pay attention to your own life, you could be ready for some of the stuff that comes at you regularly. You can't resist the Devil you're not ready for. He said, "Be alert and sober-minded…" Or clearheaded, one translation would say. "…because the Devil, the Enemy, prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour".
If he can eat you alive with anxiety, he will, because he's looking for his lunch. If he can eat you alive with offense, he will, because he's looking for his lunch. If he can eat you alive with the memory of something you did that God has already forgiven, he will, because he's looking for his lunch. He is looking for someone who has not taken inventory of their life to go back and track the times that… "You know what? It seems like the Enemy always attacks me here, and he always attacks me when…" When you have an unreflective life, when you are just reactive all the time, you are not ready for every attack that happens to you. You cannot resist it.
There is no readiness where there is no reflection. I want to get better and better and better in my life, not at blaming stuff that happened, but going like, "Hey, what was it that put me in that state that I wasn't ready for that, and how next time, when I'm going into that situation, can I be a little more ready for it"? Sometimes God will uncover really weird stuff for you, like this. I'll give you an example. When I get really hyped up before I preach, it's a setup for me to be disappointed if you're not hyped up when I start preaching. But here's what happened. I pulled into a private space today. You had to drive through some traffic and people and stuff like that. I didn't have to bring any kids to church today. Holly did all that.
So, of course I'm ready. I didn't have to get anybody dressed, anybody in the car on time. I didn't have anybody to account for but myself. The only person I had to make sure had his clothes and shoes on and was showered up was me, so I'm in a good mood. But what if you're not? I realized that I have to be ready when I come out here to preach that you might not be ready to listen yet, because if I'm not, then when the discouragement comes, when I'm like, "Oh no! They don't look like they're really into this…" Well, they're into it, but it's just like a cold plunge for them. They just have to get settled into it.
Let them sit there a minute. You know, I asked God one time… When people yawn when I'm preaching, that really sets me off. Like, really sets me off. If you ever notice in my sermon where I take a sharp turn, and it gets really, really rough all of a sudden, like, really mean or condemning…I start talking about hell and judgment, and stuff like that…I probably saw somebody yawn. That's probably what just happened. I remembered something. Even this week, I was thinking about this. In psychology they call it triggers. It could be a smell. It could be a sight. It could be a sound. It could be a lot of different things.
I remembered that there was one boy when I was first learning to teach the Bible, and he would full-on yawn. Not yawn like he was trying to hide it, but he would full-on stretch back and yawn. His shirt would stretch up over his belly. I had to look at his belly, his open mouth, and all this stuff. That was when I was first learning to preach. I realized that kid was right in front of me when I was first learning to teach the Bible. I'm not going to say his name. He would yawn while I was preaching the Bible.
So, to this day, if I see somebody yawn, it actually sets me in a place where I feel like a beginning preacher. Isn't that weird? Or maybe I just need more therapy. Even recognizing that, it gives me a moment to know, "Oh! That guy yawning might have worked third shift. He might be tired because maybe he's visiting somebody in a nursing home. Or he stayed up all night playing video games, but it's not mine to judge". If I recognize that that puts me in a bad place, then I can be ready to respond rather than to react and to resist the temptation before I'm attacked. Faith does not give you the ability to prevent the Enemy's attack. I wish it did. I wish that, by faith, we could rebuke every panic attack in the room, every financial attack in the room, every attack on your physical body in the room.
If I had the power to do it, I would do it. I would love to do it for you, but there is nothing in 1 Peter 5:8 or any of the rest of the Bible that suggests that, at will, we can just rebuke the Devil's attack and prevent the Devil's attack, but we can plan for what you're going to do the next time he does attack. That's why Peter called him a roaring lion. Before he ever comes to devour you, there's always a roar.
Do you recognize him when he roars? Or do we live lives that never reflect and ask, "Why do I keep ending up in this situation? Why is the Devil always picking on me? Why am I always in this bad relational pattern? Why are people never coming to my aid, and why am I never…"? It's always this thing of blaming it. Or do we want to beat it and resist it and get stronger from it? I think it would be easier to resist temptation if the consequences of the sin were immediate. I think it would be really easy to resist even overeating if the bad stuff happened while you ate. No, I'm serious. If the cellulite grew as you chewed, you'd stop chewing.
Have you ever noticed how the benefits of discipline are delayed and the payoffs of doughnuts are immediate? I mean, a quick sweet relief, a glazed relief. (I'm getting hungry, y'all. I fast before I preach.) There is a hidden expense and a quick hit for sin, and there is a hidden benefit of discipline that doesn't kick in quickly, but you'll be glad you did it after. I used to always say I could do crunches if my abs would Pop! Pop! Pop! while I crunched. When I crunch on a Frito… If I could crunch on a Frito and the fat would pop, I could stop with the Fritos. It is the delay that gets me trapped. The consequence comes after.
It's the most amazing thing what the Devil will hide from you when he tempts you. It's an amazing thing what he'll bait that hook with that you don't see when you bite. It is not until after you are hooked that this isn't so fun anymore. It's not until after you can't get rid of the habit that you wish you had found a healthier way to deal with your emotions. This is why we must teach in church not only the deliverance of the Holy Spirit but the disciplines of the grace of God so we can help people make decisions today that they will be glad for after.
I want you to pray to God after you fail, but I also want you to pray to God before you fail so that maybe he can spare you some of the pain, that you could put something in his hands before you get caught in it so God could spare you from some of the wasted years. This is not even in my notes, but I just feel like I need to go off for a minute.
Sometimes we create our own suffering because of shortcuts we take, because of how we want to feel right now, but I heard a wise preacher say, "Never give up what you want most for what you want now". There are some things you want to be in the future that are going to require some adjustments to what you need to do right now. Even some of the Scriptures you hear and some of the messages you hear that will challenge you the most will help you the most after.