‘In those days Peter stood up among the believers (a group numbering about a hundred and twenty) and said, “Brothers and sisters, the Scripture had to be fulfilled in which the Holy Spirit spoke long ago through David concerning Judas, who served as guide for those who arrested Jesus. He was one of our number and shared in our ministry…. May another take his place of leadership.”
Acts 1:15-17; 20
One of the best ways to begin again – to start over and find a new path forward – is to remember people who have profoundly influenced you. And, if they have died, to give thanks by writing about them in a journal; reaching out to people who were also influenced by them; contacting the family of the person, to let them know how much he or she meant to you. A person who has made that kind of difference, is extraordinarily rare.
We also, often, have people in our lives who have worked the opposite kind of influence: They wronged us, sinned against us, were lukewarm and apathetic, when we needed them to be fully invested – you name it. And yet, we often allow that person a seat at the table in our mind, our emotions, in our hearts. They’re still on our “leadership team”, and are leading us, even though we really wish they weren’t. Everyone wrestles with this. Everyone wonders how to get rid of the “leaders” that get stuck in our minds.
You can’t do it on your own. You can’t do it without God.
You can’t do it on your own, because you need a group – a family of people – who love you, and want to walk alongside you, as you work to shrug off the influence of a bad ‘leader’. That ‘family’ will see things you miss; crucial things that are determining your day-to-day interactions with other people. You also can’t do it on your own because the problems you have, which are partly built on the bad person’s influence, crop up in relationships with other people. Yes, you have your own peace of mind to strive for, but unless you want to withdraw completely from society, you will need to live out the new you with other human beings.
You can’t do it without God, because when people defeat the influence of bad people in their own strength, with no help from God, they often simply become a photo-negative of the person whose influence they’re trying to leave behind. You can become just as bad, only in a slightly different way. Sad, sad stuff, when that happens. Only a daily, personal pressing into the help God offers, can make us healthy and self-aware.
Peter gathers with the disciples and says: “We need to replace someone who was in leadership with us. Someone we’ve known since the beginning.” In some sense, the influence of Judas – who is now dead – is still there, hovering in their minds, and in their life together. Peter doesn’t try to replace Judas on his own. He certainly doesn’t try to do it without God.
Who do you need to fire from your ‘leadership team’ – the team in your mind, that controls your emotions and your life in profound, even unconscious ways? Who do you need to bring aboard?
You can’t begin to answer these until you do two things: Join a family of people who are committed to deep, lasting transformation – the church; and ask God to help you replace the bad leader you need to get rid of. God may add any number of good people to your team, but he will begin with himself: He must sit at the head of the table in your mind, not you, me, or even our best, most loving leaders.
If you’re ready to let go of a bad leader(s), whose words still ring in your ears, ask Jesus to come, and take up his rightful place at the head of the table in your mind. He is not only gentle, and so will love you graciously; he is stronger than you, me, or even our biggest, best heroes – Jesus, alone, can loosen and destroy the death grip that bad leaders have in your life.
Prayer: Father, there is that one person, who you know well. He/she hurt me, wronged me, sinned against me. And I’ve given him/her too much space to influence who I am, today. Lord, please come and sit at the head of table in my mind, and begin to heal me. Heal me from those things I can see that I need to change, and from those things that are hidden from me. Amen.