“The Pastor really stepped all over my toes today!”
That’s the statement I grew up hearing immediately after the service and all the toes were making their way out the doors with either smiles on their faces, or some of the scariest and grumpiest looks I had ever seen. Those words stuck with me as a child and as I became an adult, I remember thinking that each time I went to church, I was supposed to get my toes stepped all over!
Along the way, I would walk out of church feeling one of two ways. One, something was wrong and there was no hope for me because I didn’t feel anything in my toes, or two, I felt like one of the worst human beings that ever walked the planet and was completely discouraged. Truthfully, these two feelings did little to nothing for my relationship with Jesus or my walk of faith. No matter which way I left feeling, I knew this, it didn’t make me want to walk back in those doors.
Fast forward several years, I feel the freedom to say, “I don’t want my Pastor stepping all over my toes!”
For the longest time I felt like those words might have been secretly placed on the “bad” word list of things I wasn’t suppose to say as a christian. But the more I wrestled with how I felt each time I walked out of the church building doors week after week and pleaded with God to show me what was wrong with me, the more freedom I began to feel to truly express why that statement has become so important to me. God opened my eyes to three truths straight from His Word.
Here are three reasons why I don’t want my Pastor stepping all over my toes:
1. Change doesn’t happen in my toes, it happens in my heart.
Psalm 51:10 says, “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.”
When my Pastor is teaching every thing the Holy Spirit has led him to speak on that Sunday, stepping on my toes with his words won’t create a clean heart, it will only create bruised toes that return to normal a lot quicker than my heart will when the Holy Spirit is squeezing it. I didn’t used to understand this difference because I was always waiting for my toes to hurt instead of paying attention to what was taking place in my heart. My Pastor spends a lot of time praying and seeking what God would have him to teach us, quite a bit of time studying, and I feel certain that the mission isn’t to bruise my toes, but to change my heart. So why is that the mission?
2. Everything I do doesn’t flow from my toes, it flows from my heart.
Proverbs 4:23 says, “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.”
God reminded me of this verse time and time again. Especially when I couldn’t understand why I was becoming so increasingly frustrated with church. My toes had little to do with how I lived out my life. This is the very reason I need a clean heart and renewed spirit, because everything I do will flow from it, not my painted but bruised toes. So why does it matter what flows from my heart?
3. What flows from my heart will find its way from my mouth.
Luke 6:45 says, “A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.”
My words will reflect what is in my heart, not my toes. I don’t need what my Pastor preaches on Sunday to be so harsh that it steps on my toes, I need it to be so truthful that it squeezes out the evil, stores up God’s truths, and stirs up change. But, I need more than just to be told what I’m doing wrong, I need ways to apply God’s Word to my every day life so there’s room for change to happen. If my mouth is going to be full of His praise the way His Word says in Psalm 71:8, then it’s more important for my heart to be changed then my toes to be stepped on. The words I speak can be the well that draws others in to Jesus Christ, and unfortunately they can also be the car that drives them away from Him. My words matter in more ways than I could ever imagine. My toes have nothing to do with my words, it’s all in the heart.
I grew up hopeless, discouraged, and frustrated, yet somehow I knew this wasn’t how I was supposed to feel as a Christ follower. When I hit rock bottom at the age of thirty-one and encountered Jesus Christ in a way I never had before, He opened my eyes to a lot of things I was holding on to that wasn’t of Him. One of those things was I may not have felt anything in my toes, but that’s because He was pressing my heart. Now, I live a life full of hope, encouragement, and enthusiasm in Him all because He set me free from looking for pain in my toes and drew my attention to my heart.
Make no mistake, I want my Pastor to speak God’s truths straight from His Word and to bring my attention to my sinful nature and ways, but I also need him to show me Jesus through how He brings me His truths just like it says in John 1:14, “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” Jesus Christ is the Word that became flesh, and He is full of grace and truth. When grace and truth are lived out together in unity and balance just as they are supposed to be, we won’t leave feeling hopeless and discouraged, we will walk away knowing there’s hope for us through Jesus and because of that truth we will feel encouraged and our lives will begin to change and look more like His.