Breaking Down the Breakdown

Featuring Bob Kauflin Posted on April 7, 2010

So what happened to me? Many would call it a nervous breakdown. I've learned that it was far simpler than that. And far more serious.

I was experiencing the consequences of my pride. A sin breakdown, if youwill. God in his kindness was mercifully humbling me and showing me whatlife would be like without him.

I'd been in a relentless pursuit of glory. I relished hearing my name mentioned, reading my name in print, and being commended by others for mywisdom, my musical gifts, my parenting, and my care—even my humility. I'd grown increasingly offended when people found fault with anything I did. I bristled inwardly when someone questioned my integrity, gifting, or planning. Itried to avoid any kind of criticism and worked hard to persuade others that Iwas an exceptional (but humble) Christian, pastor, and worship leader.

Some people would characterize my condition as a chronic people-pleaser. A more apt description was a people-worshiper. I was striving to gainthe approval of those whose approval was of no eternal significance. I'd failed to see that the only approval that matters—God's—is impossible to earn but is offered as a gift through the gospel.

And it was the gospel that set me free.

Gary had been right. I'd felt hopeless, but not hopeless enough. I knewJesus died on the cross to save sinners from God's wrath, enduring in ourplace the punishment we deserved. I understood that I couldn't save myself. I just didn't think of myself as a very great sinner. Which meant I didn't need a very great Savior.

When I sought glory for myself, praise for my accomplishments, and creditfor my growth, I wasn't depending on a Savior—I was searching for an audience.

God used various people and means to transform my heart. I know mywife will receive significant rewards on the last day for her support, correction,and love during that time. My friends gave me much insightful and patientcounsel. Jerry Bridges's book The Discipline of Grace and John Owen's treatises on Sin and Temptation also proved to be meaningful channels ofgrace through which the Spirit encouraged my sin-weary soul.

Today the gospel—which I so frequently assumed but so often failed toapply—is the center and foundation of my daily life. I continue to learn aboutthe pervasive power of sin and the greater power of Jesus Christ to redeemme from it. I love Jesus more than I ever thought I would or could.

Why have I shared all this? Because I want to make it clear from the start that worship isn't primarily about music, techniques, liturgies, songs, or methodologies. It's about our hearts. It's about what and who we love more than anything.

Here's my sobering discovery. I learned that I could lead others in worshiping God and be worshiping something else in my own heart. But bythe grace of God, I was beginning to understand what worship is all about.

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