the shape of leadership

Is It Time for a Spiritual Eye Exam?

Correcting ‘vision’ problems in life and ministry

Ruth Puleo on June 12, 2018

After receiving notice in the mail for my two-year eye exam, I made an appointment — not because I thought my eyesight had changed, but because I was ready to change the style of my glasses.

To my amazement, the eye exam revealed my eyesight had changed and I needed a different prescription. Within an hour, my new glasses were ready and I could see details at a distance that had eluded me with my old lenses.

During my daily prayer and Bible reading time, the Spirit reminds me that I need regular spiritual eye exams as well. Often, I think my spiritual sight is just fine. But when I examine my heart in light of what God is saying, I find that my vision is lacking and I have missed some areas that God is trying to correct.

Young people who are nearsighted usually see up close just fine; they simply need glasses to see objects at a distance. But, as we age, close-range vision often deteriorates. That’s why most people eventually need reading glasses or bifocals.

Similarly, as the years pass in life and ministry, we can lose focus on some things. We may easily discern the brokenness in others, clearly seeing their areas of weakness and wounded hearts. Yet, when looking up close at our own lives, we somehow miss the ways we are hurting or the offenses we’ve picked up over our years of serving others.

After a series of disappointments in ministry, I found myself struggling. I felt betrayed by people I loved and trusted. Through the kind and gentle prodding of the Holy Spirit, I realized my focus was on what they had done. As a result, I couldn’t see the changes taking place in my own heart.

Before we speak into the lives of others, we must allow God to point out our blind spots.

What they did was wrong, but I wasn’t responsible for their behavior. Instead, I would have to answer to God for my reaction — not only in how I responded to them but for what I said about them to others.

When we can’t see clearly our own areas of need, we tend to focus only on what we see in others. Especially when facing opposition, it’s easy to become critical of those around us and oblivious to our own issues.

This doesn’t mean God is unconcerned about the hurtful things others do or say. Our heavenly Father desires to change them as well. But before we speak into the lives of others, we must allow God to point out our blind spots.

Since the decline in physical eyesight usually occurs gradually, it is easy for it to go undetected — until an exam by someone who knows about eyes reveals the need for correction. Likewise, when we are not in tune with the Holy Spirit on a regular basis, we can miss the slow drift from a sensitivity to His prompting.

Before we know it, we are overlooking His warning signals or His clear instruction on issues of the heart. Thus, the need for a regular spiritual eye exam is in order.

Matthew 7:3-5 says, “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”

It is important to notice that God is not telling us we shouldn’t reach out to those who have wounded or hurt us. What He is saying is that we have to deal with our own heart first and get that right before we go to anyone else to address their issues.

And perhaps after working through our own areas of hurt, God will give us some creative and gentle ways to address the situation. I am convinced that once we see clearly our own issues and behaviors, we will be able to humbly approach others without a defensiveness that divides.

With renewed spiritual focus, we can respond as Paul instructs: “Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love” (Ephesians 4:2).


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