My mind wandered. We sat stuck, horns blaring around us as traffic ground to halt. I wiped sweat from my brow and the diesel fumes were beginning to make my eyes burn. This was not the first time I had experienced this since it was my 16th trip visiting my friends and churches in East Africa. We were in the heart of Ethiopia’s capital city, Addis Ababa caught in horrible traffic. In some parts of America, we experience heavy traffic. Our worst traffic jams pale in comparison to the choking congestion of capital cities in Africa like Addis Ababa.
Staring out the window at the throngs of people, cars, motorbikes and even an occasional donkey pulling a cart; I stressed. I cannot tell you what I was worrying about but apparently my quiet, distant gaze tipped my hand and my dear Ethiopian friend, Desalegn, who was sitting at my side in the van, called me back to reality.
“Brandon, I am so grateful you and the team are here. We are going to have a great day of training today!”
I heard his words, mixed with the other conversations going on in our van. His words of encouragement registered but not enough to pull me from my anxious racing thoughts. Desalegn’s next words broke through.
“Brandon, are you ok”?
I turned my head to him, made eye contact and gave him a canned response, “Ya, I am ok and I am excited about today.”
Desalegn and I have the kind of friendship where that does not work. The canned response only provoked him further. He asked me, “What are you worrying about”?
Desalegn knew me well enough to know that I was worrying about something and not focused on the day we had ahead of us. I and my team were in Ethiopia to work with a local church plant that we helped establish two years prior. Normally when close to one of these trainings I am chatting with excited energy. Desalegn knew this because together we had done these types of leadership trainings together for over a decade and this time was different. I cannot tell you what of a thousand things I was potentially preoccupied with. What I can tell you is the impact truth can have when spoken by a friend.
“Can I say something to you Brandon”? Desalegn asked.
Looking at him, I answered, “Of course you can my friend”.
“I am worried about you, and something seems different”. Desalegn said.
What transpired next was a conversation around the change that Desalegn saw in my life. Something I could not see, and I needed a friend to point out an issue going on in my life. At that time so many things were happening in our church and my four kids were at their peak of life’s busyness. College, sports, school and countless events. I was speaking at more events than normal, and I had allowed the reality of life to steal my joy. Stress and worry crept in, and my focus shifted. Here I was 12,000 miles away from home in the middle of an incredible answer to prayer by seeing these churches planted and the worry of life was ruining the moment.
“You are distant and not yourself”. Desalegn said.
I confessed to him, he was right, and I thanked him for calling it out. He quoted part of a Scripture from Matthew 6 and also spoke into my life challenging me to get my focus off of things I cannot control. In the end he pointed out that I was not enjoying life, and he was spot on.
I made a commitment that day to make some changes and needed to repent of the lack of trust that crept into my personal walk with Jesus. Desalegn spoke truth into my life and strengthen my walk as a disciple.
Allowing others to speak truth into our lives lies at the heart of a disciple’s life. Even when we want to defend ourselves or justify our actions. God does not care about our status, our “position” or our reputation. He cares about His and when we open our hearts to hear from others, we create a culture of vulnerability and humility that models some of Jesus’ most intimate attributes.
This post originally appeared at: Speak Truth | Relational Discipleship Network (rdn1.com)