I walked onto the campus of Central Bible College in the fall of 1996. Contrary to what my daughter says, I am not old. I visited a year before and felt confirmation after confirmation this was the route God wanted me to take. Little did I realize on that first move-in day my life would be utterly transformed. I received an excellent education and training for ministry. I made lifelong friends. I married the love of my life and I found many mentors that profoundly challenged me; they do to this day.
I mean no disrespect by this comment. As I walked on the campus and interacted with President Lednicky the first time, I remember thinking, “he is an intimidating little man”. I have always held aspirations to be an intimidating little man too…still working on that one. He is about the same size as I am…we could probably share clothing. I saw in Dr. Lednicky so much of what I wanted to be. He was confident in the pulpit, exemplified a deep and abiding love for his beautiful wife, faced overwhelming personal loss with grace and faith, and demanded the highest standard of morality and spirituality from his students.
A few years ago I saw him at a conference. He gave me a copy of one of his books, “OBSERVATIONS from down the road.” In it he hits on a topic many believers miss…motivation. In chapter three Dr. Lednicky points to the Sermon on the Mount and the temptation of Christ. In both cases, motivation is the central focus, not the action. “Then, I went back to His temptation in the wilderness and realized that Satan did not even question the Lord’s ability or power to respond to such challenges. That did not even enter into the discussion. The attack was all about motivation.” (Observations from Down the Road, Lednicky, H Maurice (Life Publishing, Springfield, MO) 2015, pg 27.))
I believe as we mature in Christ we move from recognizing actions as sin to recognizing motivation to prevent sin. Let me illustrate this with another of Christ’s teachings. The Law stated that we should not murder. Jesus states that we should not look at another person with murder in our hearts. The Law says, don’t commit adultery. Jesus says, don’t even look at a woman with lust in your heart. Jesus is elevating the conversation and focusing on motivation.
Sin begins in our minds…it begins with a contemplation of our willingness to act. Or you might say it this way, if we do not begin to think about an act, the act is not likely to be acted upon. Motivation! As we mature in our faith, the Holy Spirit hones in on our motivation. That is not an easy process, but it is necessary. The why of any situation is tough to think through. It is difficult to grapple with the dark and sinful areas of our minds and hearts. We like to keep that closet closed. We may have locked it so deep no one but us knows it even exists. Or we may put a sign up that says “nothing to see here”.
These are the areas of our life God wants to deal with. As painful as it is and as exposed as we may feel, God must have access to even the deepest recesses of our lives. To become truly like Him…which of course is the goal, we must allow Him to transform us by the renewing of our minds. “Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.” Rom 12:2 NLT (emphasis mine)
For the believer, even the way we think must come into submission to the Holy Spirit. We must become like Him. This scripture tells us that there is a great benefit to us, we “will learn to know God’s will.” The closer you draw to Christ and into His Word the deeper He can go in changing us. No, it is not easy. Yes, it is necessary. So, thank you Dr. Lednicky and Marcia for showing this young student the truth and modeling a Godly life in front of us. Thanks for still pouring into my life, now 25 years later. Maybe one day we can exchange suit jackets.