Forum Summary: Understanding Ourselves and Others

Author: Juliette McNair | Student, Living Education 2021

Estimated Reading Time: 3 minutes, 43 seconds.

Mr. Bob Rodzaj joined the Living Education students and staff from wintry Racine, Wisconsin via Webex. As he spoke, snow was falling, adding to the 2 feet already on the ground. Mr. Rodzaj grew up in Rochester, New York. He was introduced to the Church while he was studying architecture at Virginia Tech. After graduating with his bachelor’s degree, Mr. Rodzaj attended Ambassador College. He was ordained into the ministry over 30 years ago and currently pastors five congregations in Wisconsin, Illinois, and Iowa.

Mr. Rodzaj said, “Many years ago, I remember Dr. Meredith telling us to become students of human nature—why people do what they do, what makes them the way they are… I’d like to talk about that very subject: the need to better understand ourselves and others.”

“You bring with you what makes you—you.”

As a latchkey child, Mr. Rodzaj grew up with both his parents working full time. Outside of school, he was essentially alone. “By the time God called me at age 21, I was a deeply troubled, angry young man with a lot to overcome… But God helped me grow past the past.” Mr. Rodzaj said, “I speak to you at the beginning of your adult lives.” He asked the students how well they understood what they want out of life, why they want it, what’s important to them at the very core of their being—and how their past has shaped them. Mr. Rodzaj explained, “As a pastor, I’ve dealt with people who struggle with the effects of their past—particularly their formative years.” If people could understand themselves and others, they would improve the quality of their relationships and develop the ability to make a real difference in the lives of others now and in the millennium.

“The story of Job is the story of each one of us…”

Job thought he understood himself and God. He did what was right and thought he understood what God expected of him. Yet, Mr. Rodzaj explained, “Job’s relationship with God was based on fear.” Job said, after God allowed Satan to persecute him, “For the thing I greatly feared has come upon me” (Job 3:25). Job was motivated by terror: “He is unique, and who can make Him change… Therefore I am terrified at His presence” (Job 23:13-16). Mr. Rodzaj asked, “Does this describe a trusting relationship? Is this the kind of relationship God wants us to have with Him?” Eventually, Elihu told Job, “For has anyone said to God… ‘Teach me what I do not see…’?” (Job 34:31-32). Job hadn’t asked God for this understanding. Mr. Rodzaj explained that Job hadn’t understood what motivated him and the relationship that God expected of him. But Job came to understand himself and God correctly.

Do we understand our motives?

Mr. Rodzaj gave other examples in the Bible of individuals who needed to better understand themselves. One was the rich young man of Matthew 19:16-22. Mr. Rodzaj compared him to a young person in the Church. “The young man was very diligent, but there was something buried deep in his heart that he couldn’t see. Christ pierced right through to the core of the young man’s desire and ambition.” When Christ told him to go and sell all that he had, “he wasn’t willing to go there. But sooner or later, he would have to if he really wanted to inherit eternal life.” Mr. Rodzaj mentioned other individuals who needed to understand themselves. Adam and Eve didn’t understand their gullibility. Moses struggled with his fierce anger. And even Peter had to reckon with a cowardly side.

God Can Help

“People’s tendencies have an impact on their well-being and the well-being of others. It affects how we function, how we deal with life, and how we deal with others.” Mr. Rodzaj admitted that when he was the students’ age, he hadn’t understood himself. “I wish I had understood these things sooner. It would have made a world of difference—in my life, in my marriage, in my parenting, in my role as a minister and member, as an employee, as a boss, and as a friend.” Understanding yourself helps you to better understand others. But only God can search a Christian’s heart and mind (Jeremiah 17:10). God can help if we take Elihu’s advice and ask Him to “teach me what I do not see” (Job 34:32). Mr. Rodzaj concluded, “My hope and prayer is that you can learn this sooner and enjoy its fruit in your life and in all your relationships.”

This post is part of our new series of student-written content for LivingEd-Charlotte. These summaries cover topics originally presented by our faculty and guest speakers in our weekly Forum and Assembly. For more Assembly-related content check out our Second Thoughts posts.