There were a few moments during my mission trip to Guatemala that I would consider personal discovery moments. Even before the trip, God was weighing on my heart about some things in my life that needed to change.
The first really core shaking moment was when one of my teammates was working on restoring the toilets to working order. When we arrived there was only one and the bathrooms had no running water. He had worked all day on the task pulling together parts and trying different things. In an arrogant sort of way I started asking details about the task as if I knew better than he did about how to fix the toilets. It wasn’t meant to come across that way and I really was wanting to be helpful.
My line of work has me spending a lot of my days solving problems. I’m also the guy that when handed a puzzle will spend hours trying to solve it. Then I have to go around and show everyone once I’ve nailed it. For a moment I actually thought I knew better. This was pride and arrogance speaking. I had no more to offer than he was already doing and my efforts were no better than his. In fact, I’d put my needs of solve a puzzle and feel significant above the relationship and the job we were doing. How many of us do that?
The second happened the next day when we had finished the roof we were working on. I headed over to help another crew on the house. Again, same thing happened only this time I tried to show another teammate how to hold and cut a board. This is something I’ve done lot of and had a technique that I thought would help get the job done faster and easier. My delivery … well let’s just say it was awful. My teammates response was “There are too many cooks in the kitchen.” As soon as he said it, I realized I was at it again and I needed to disengage. I’d put my desire to finish the project, know-it-all attitude and personal ambition ahead of our relationship. It was prideful and arrogant.
I regret both of these incidents, but I’m also very thankful that God allowed me to learn something from these interactions. My team mates were understanding and forgiving. They more than just tolerated me. My teammates are some really amazing followers of Jesus and showed love with each other (and me) as much as with the people we went to serve.
The whole realization forced me to answer some hard questions. Do I really think I’m always right? Why am I not taking into consideration how others feel? Would I change now knowing what I’m doing? The answers brought some ugly realizations that I forced myself to confront and lay at the feet of Jesus.
For me this mission was never meant to be a self discovery. Had I not been convicted by the Holy Spirit, I probably would never have realized what I was doing and how it affects other people. The mission was meant to help children and a village find Jesus and improve their lives. But God had a few things he needed to teach each one of us on this trip. What I came home with was a greater insight into myself as a person interacting with others and a stronger relationship to God and to my teammates. I also came home with a greater love for others and a renewed purpose in my life.