I don’t know how many times I’ve let this one thought keep me from going forward. Too often I have thought that, for a variety of reasons, God shouldn’t be able to use me. That for some reason “I don’t measure up.” Because of this, I’ve spent way too much time wondering about what others think of me and not enough time realizing what God thinks of me. And to be honest, this process has kept me from being entirely who God has made me to be.
I have listed a few traps that I have fallen into that have limited my potential to be used to reach others around me…
1. I wish I were like _______. This is a tough one. I look at other pastors and other leaders around me and see how easily some things come to them and how sometimes it seems like ‘they have arrived’. But as I have gotten close to some of these men, I have seen that they have struggles and areas that they want to improve on as well. No one will ever ‘arrive’ while we are pilgrims in this world. I’ve decided to focus more on being who God made me to be and am learning to enjoy it! There are gifts and abilities that you and I have that are valuable to the body of Christ. I can’t limit myself by trying to be someone else.
2. I’m not good enough or smart enough. By being a leader, I have often thought that I also had to have all of the answers or I had to be really good at something. When in reality, I can look around and find a lot of people who can do things better than I can or have answers to things that I don’t even know the questions to start asking. I’ve learned that this isn’t a bad thing. My role is that of an equipper and an enabler. As a pastor, I don’t have to have all of the answers or be the best at doing something. But I do have to be able to empower other people to take ownership of areas and equip them to accomplish it within their gifts. I have learned to love handing ministries off to others. It’s amazing to watch them grow and even watch the ministries grow past where I could have taken them.
3. My past limits my future. Let’s just go ahead and admit this together: we all have made mistakes and have regrets that we wish we could change. But the truth is that God doesn’t use us in spite of our past but often because of our past. It’s through our past that we gain a clearer understanding of who God is and what we are capable of doing. It’s through our past that we can have empathy in the present and meet people where they are. I’ve decided to stop living in fear of my past and let God use it to show others about His loving grace in our lives.
4. I wonder what they think of me. I don’t know how many times, because of an awkward conversation or situation, that I have spent time wondering what people thought about me. As if they spend any time at all thinking about ME. I have let this thought slow me down because I have been afraid of people’s perception. But I have come to realize that I cannot control someone’s perception of me. What I can control is my character, my response to a situation, my integrity, and a few other things. But I have stopped trying to manage other people’s perception and even my reputation (which is simply other people’s viewpoint of my actions). I can only be the best me I can be and let God handle the rest. It’s Him that I serve and I want to give Him glory and praise in and through my life. I’ve realized life is too short to try to control everything else.
5. I need to be perfect. God did not call us to perfection, but to a relationship. He doesn’t want us to be fake, but to be genuine before Him and others. I can’t live up to a standard of perfection, but I can live in a relationship with Him daily and seek Him at every turn.
All of these areas above could keep me from being who God has called me to be if I let them. And the truth is I have found out that “I don’t measure up”. But actually nobody does. Romans 3:23 tells me that everyone has sinned and because of this we all fall short of God’s glorious standard (NLT). So I no longer try to have all of the answers or to be perfect or to dwell on what others are thinking. Because this isn’t the point of my life or ministry. I’m not the first one to pick up a stone when someone else falls short, because I know that it is because of the grace of God that I am who I am today. I am important and valuable not because of me but because of God in me! It’s not about my past mistakes or my current shortcomings. It’s about God and who He is. Because of this, I’m learning to focus on what’s important in life and that’s people. Let’s love them with all that we are and let them see God in us everyday.