Have you ever been told you were here to make the world a better place? Do you feel this overwhelming push (psst Christian, I’m talking to you) to have a hairy audacious ministry goal and strive with all your might (with Jesus, of course) to reach it? Did you know that God isn’t asking you to do that?
Before you shout “You’re not God and you don’t know what He wants in MY life!” You are correct. And, if you truly believe God is telling/asking you to go and do something, then you should pray, seek His Word for truth, and go do it. This post really isn’t for you. And, if you go and do that thing and it doesn’t turn out fabulous, please know that’s okay too.
This post is for the woman (or man) who wakes up to pee-soaked sheets, bills, and unending laundry. The woman who desperately desires to be used by God in a “big way”, but can’t seem to finish the day with a feeling of accomplishment. This is for me. And you.
My Church Brain
For some unknown reason, my best ideas happen either in the shower or in the church pew. Maybe it’s because I’m a pastor’s kid. By the time the pastor gets to his second point, you can be certain that my wheels are spinning. This past week was no exception. My husband is accustomed to receiving a jumbled, scribbled on bulletin with the expectation that he should decipher it and be prepared to discuss it.
“I am not left on this earth to make it better. I’m not here to improve things in the church or other ministries. The only One who ‘improves/revives/or betters’ things is God through His Son Jesus. I am here to serve God and others. Period. That is the only ‘worth’ I can find in life. I can encourage others, love them, and serve them. But, I can do nothing to make anything better. That’s God’s job.”
What’s The Point
This “revelation” may seem trivial, but to me it was the answer to over a year-long question. You see, our family spent a year in full-time ministry at the same camp my brother was directing when he died. I’ve shared my struggle with anxiety and depression, and obviously this situation complicated it. That aside, my bigger struggle was due to the overwhelming feeling of failing God.
I spent months asking myself why I wasn’t able to make it work. Why couldn’t I effectively communicate with the board, volunteers, and other staff in a way that would allow me to successfully do the things I was trained and raised in? I knew how to work with kids. I spent years in a non-profit setting for children. Fundraisers, administrative work, business finances and budgeting, and grant writing were like second nature to me. The board said they were grateful for my professional view on things. But, in the end, I quit.
I didn’t quit because I’m a quitter. My abilities were not lacking. There was new leadership, and the short version is that we couldn’t work together at that time in that place. I tried. He tried. But, it didn’t work. And, that is okay.
Dear sister in Christ or brother in Christ, if you have left a ministry that you were passionately involved in and you feel like a failure, please listen. I am halfway through my “read through the Bible in a year”, and I have found zero times where God looks at one of His own and says, “I expect you to make the world a better place.” We have to stop lying to ourselves and each other. We are not left here by God to achieve some mega monstrous ministry.
What I do find, again and again, is God using His leaders to love, encourage and serve others. Paul could have created the first mega church (And please know I’m not knocking mega churches. The size of a church is not important.), but he wandered from town to town preaching the gospel. He was arrested, beaten, pleaded with his government (as a citizen), and was eventually killed. Sure, he wrote a significant part of the New Testament. But, in his day, he was just a wandering preacher.
Moses, oh Moses. He thought God was going to use him “in his prime”. He was young, educated and able to communicate with the Hebrews and the Egyptian rulers. He sought justice. He killed an Egyptian. Then he tried to be a good leader by breaking up a fight between two Hebrews. They looked at him and sarcastically asked if he planned to kill them also in order to show he was the boss. He fled to the wilderness, became a family man, and tried to forget any thoughts of grand leadership. Then, God said, “I’m ready to use you.”
The truth is that God doesn’t need us. He made it ALL. He owns it ALL. He wiped almost all of it away in the flood. He doesn’t need us to fulfill his hairy audacious goals for this planet and the people on it. He is glorified when we choose to love Him and others and serve.
Job is my favorite example of what God does to show His glory. He strips Job of everything except his life and his wife. Job lays in the dust and picks his ginormous zits while his wife tells him to, “Curse God and die.” (Job 2:9) Then, his “friends” come for a counseling session. They tell him all the things he should do to make his life better. They also share the reasons they believe he’s in this mess. Job lays there, picks his zits, and says, (paraphrase) “Are you kidding me? I haven’t done anything wrong to deserve this! I don’t know why God is allowing this to happen to me. I’m still gonna’ trust Him, but it would sure be nice if He’d tell me what’s up.”
Then God answers, and it gets me every time. (paraphrase Job 38 – please read it, it’s awesome) “Are you questioning me? Job, be a man. I’m going to ask you something. Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?” Job was defending his innocence and righteousness, and God says, “Who do you think you are?” Do we really believe that we know why God allows what He does in our lives? He’s the creator of the universe. And, He desires a relationship with you and me.
One of my favorite verses is Job 38:12, “Have you ever in your life commanded the morning, and caused the dawn to know its place?” Job answers in chapter 42, verse 2, “I know that You can do all things, and that no purpose of Yours can be thwarted.” Job humbles himself. Then, he surrenders to God’s purpose for him, even if that purpose is decay and death. In the end, God forces the counselors to give Job their property and He restores Job and gives him children.
But, I think it’s important to note that God doesn’t raise Job’s original children from the dead. This may seem like a silly point, but I think it is valuable. Part of Job was left broken. He lived with a daily reminder of something painful that God allowed in his life. Why did God do that? Because Job trusted God, and God was glorified through it. Satan had accused Job of trusting in God only because he was a rich and blessed man. But, even after everything, Job believed that God had a righteous reason for allowing great pain into his life. Am I willing to serve, love and encourage others to this degree of loss and pain if it means glorifying God? I’m not here to make the world a better place. I’m here to glorify God.