These past several months have slowed us down long enough to expose things that we’ve been ignoring for far too long, like dust on baseboards, excess clothes in our closets and canned goods with a best-by date of 2017.
They’ve also exposed some things we weren’t expecting. We’ve seen displays of profound solidarity followed by acts of anarchy. The genuine kindness of a neighbor and relationship-altering disagreements between friends. Ingenuity in response to daily—sometimes hourly—changes and despair in the midst of change.
And yet, no matter what’s going on, we somehow end up in the same place: the kitchen.
We’re convinced that many of life’s most important moments happen in the kitchen. This is the place where we often have the deep, significant and difficult conversations of life in the intimacy of our homes. So we weren’t surprised when we found ourselves in a pivotal conversation around a butcher-block island talking about how to honor people who are angry, blinded by ignorance or complicit with their silence.
The conversation led us to what David wrote in Psalm 61. In this short psalm (only eight verses), David expresses feelings of being overwhelmed. He’s had enough. He’s on the edge, and he’s losing the will to fight. Desperate for answers and for a refuge from his circumstances, David pursues a higher perspective.
We love the leadership lessons from David because all through the Psalms he never spares us his humanity nor his utter dependence on God. David’s struggles as a leader help us to express our struggles in personal and professional life. The way he surrenders hopelessness, brokenness, offense and other maladies of leadership gives us the words to do the same. When David offers thanks from the valleys and from the pinnacles of life, he provides us with a blueprint for keeping a right perspective in any situation. And as David is always looking to God for a higher perspective on what’s happening in his life, we are equipped to do the same.
In this Psalm, we find a key to David’s prowess as a leader. He knows he’s reached his limit. And though immediate solutions are necessary, he doesn’t limit his requests of God to solving his problems in practical ways by focusing on how to find common ground or reclaim lost ground. Yes, he reminds God of what’s already been promised to him and yes, he asks for his future to be secure. But in the moment of his struggle, David asks for something more. He asks for a higher ground.
As we talked about how to honor people who were disagreeable at best in the “RESTORE” series, we found ourselves at the edge of our understanding, hungry for higher ground and wondering what it would be like to see things from a divine ‘shelter-in-place’ instead of from the edge of issues and difficult conversations.
Just like David, we needed a new perspective on how to honor people—a perspective above the frayed edges of our nerves and circumstances. We needed a higher viewpoint to help us see issues and people the way God does.
In the kitchen that day we realized something about our search for how to honor people.
The reason honor comes from a higher perspective is the same reason the press box at a football stadium is always elevated. The playing field is common ground. The press box is a higher perspective. It allows you to see things you can’t see when you’re caught up in the action.
A higher perspective is what happens when you ask God to elevate your perspective.
It’s not enough to have casual conversations or casual relationships. These don’t lead to higher ground. The relationships that elevate your perspective also challenge you to ask deep and meaningful questions—the kind of questions that keep you from getting too close to the edge and too far away from honoring others.
Elevated relationships don’t happen by chance. They happen by choice. And though they don’t transpire overnight, you can take steps in this direction every day. Here are some questions to ask yourself as you evaluate and elevate your relationships.
In the weeks and months ahead, we believe that your leadership will continue to be challenged in ways that take you to the edge of yourself and to the edge of pressing issues. Common ground will help you connect with others, but it will only get you so far.
You can take the first step today by deciding that no matter what comes your way, you’ll do what David did and ask for an elevated perspective. When you do this, expect things to change. Expect to see things differently. Expect to come up higher.
We’ll see you on the Rock!