By Brian Sharpe
I can be grumpy. It is frustrating for me to admit that. I don’t want to be, but it comes so easily. This summer, when I was with students and leaders at a four-day Christian music festival where we were tent camping in 100 degree weather, I took off for the morning to go shopping. A couple of the students wanted to go with me, but I said no. I just needed some time alone. When I returned after a couple hours, I was refreshed. I started unloading the groceries from the truck, and one of my leaders said, “You needed to go by yourself, you were grumpy.” I was okay with that statement because I know that about myself.
The problem is that I can be grumpy with my family way too much. They are hard to get away from when I am tired and feeling the need to get away. When I am on a trip with students, men, or ministry leaders, I can keep the perspective that this time will come to an end. I need to love well. I need to push through, even if I am tired. I know I can go home at the end of the trip and just get my downtime. The problem is that when I go home, my family is there. They weren’t on the trip. They were home without me. When I come home, they want my time. I also want my time, and that leads to grumpiness.
I had an epiphany this last vacation. The reason I get grumpy is because I get selfish and don’t keep the perspective of loving others to Christ. I know I need to do that as a pastor to others, but when I come home I am still required by love to point my family to Jesus, not away because of my grumpiness. My perspective had to change. I had to go from focusing on what I need to focusing on how to love my family well. How do I not keep a record of wrongs or be easily irritated? My perspective needed to be much less about what I need, and much more about what my family needs in order for me to be the husband and father that leads his family toward Jesus.
I am constantly convicted by my selfishness. God is teaching me over and over again that loving others includes my family, and that loving others is a constant choice of living out 1 Corinthians 13. I need to be patient and kind always, not just when I am refreshed or in a good place, but also when things aren’t going my way. The only way I can do that is when I am focusing on Jesus and the love He has for me. That is what can get me through. That is what can help me love my family and others well. The hard part is being self-aware enough to realize when you are not loving well. That is why we need others, such as my youth leader, who say, “You needed to get away, you were grumpy.”
The other part of the epiphany that I got was that, a lot of time, our families get the shaft. Our families are whom we let our guard down with, and we treat them differently than anyone else because of that. Which brings me back to keeping the perspective that my family deserves me staying focused on loving God and others well. They don’t deserve the shaft; they deserve our best, just like anyone else. We need to allow God to help us love Him and others well. We need Him to help us recover from our grumpiness. Well, I need Him to help me recover from it … because I am probably the only one who struggles with this!