Jesus turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men.” (Matthew 16:23)
In a matter of seconds, Simon Peter went from rock to stumbling block—from helping people find the way, to being in the way. Can you relate? I certainly can. There is a definite art to staying out of the way, an art that requires a good bit of wisdom, some silence and reflection, and a ton of humility. And rule number one about staying out of the way is: it’s not about you. When it becomes about me, I have moved, like Peter, from rock to stumbling block.
The problem is that sometimes it’s really hard for us to tell the difference between the two, because we are always a crazy combination of pure and impure motives. There is a desire within us to see God’s kingdom advance, but there is also a desire to be the ones who are given the credit or recognition for advancing it. And the ugly truth is that sometimes our own impure motives (to be needed, to be impressive, to be significant, etc.) are veiled underneath the guise of it all being about Him.
There is a really fine line between helping people find the way and actually being in the way. Which makes me wonder how often I actually become a stumbling block by asserting myself in a situation, or conversation, in such a way that I actually hinder what God is trying to do, rather than helping it. When is it all about Him and when has it become far too much about me?
Here are a few signs I typically look for. Yours may be a bit different, but these are pretty strong indicators for me: when I become too invested or start caring too much. When I become too attached, too consumed, too possessive, or too tied to a certain outcome. When I get too defensive, too opinionated, too certain, too sure, or too needy, those are always good indicators that it has become more about me than about God. Just like Peter, my agendas and opinions and insecurities can definitely get in the way of what God is up to.
What about you? When can you tell you have moved from rock to stumbling block?