Last week, I was writing about figuring out how God designed you so that you could have a better idea of what His purposes are for you in the Church. But like GI Joe said, “Knowing is half the battle.” And while I’ve never really watched GI Joe, my husband quotes this from time to time, and sometimes, it’s true. Knowing your gifts and your purpose doesn’t magically prepare you to step out and walk it out. It’s a great place to begin, but it sure doesn’t end with mere knowledge. Action must follow what we know to be true–this is faith. But actually, I think for many of us, instead of faith, our first reaction is fear.
We’re afraid that we might fail. We’re afraid that we might fail IN FRONT OF PEOPLE. We are scared of what others will think; maybe they won’t think we’re qualified. Maybe we will step out in faith only to find that we were wrong about our gifts. Maybe we’re insecure; we think we can’t hack it. We think we’re too young, too old, too opinionated, too much and not enough in the same instant.
When I’m thinking through my own dreams and feel stuck, I like to chat with my friend Nicole. She thinks things through pretty thoroughly, and she doesn’t mince words. A couple of weeks ago, we were taking a long walk and chatting about what it means to live out your gifting, dreaming big about the gift, and recognizing our humble place as one member in the very large Body of Christ.
We began discussing the role fear plays when we have longings and dreams that God has designed us to live out. There’s small living where you are doing what the world considers small and humble, and that can totally be where you’re supposed to live out your gifting. And there is a humility in recognizing that the Church is made of many members, and there aren’t unnecessary members! We’re all essential to the healthy life of the Church; however, we concluded that a lot of us say we’re living “small” lives and living “humbly,” but for many of us, we’re just afraid to take a risk and step out in faith into what God has called and purposed for us to do, whether that’s mothering, teaching, building a business, writing music like Nicole or writing articles like me. Nicole said this,
Whether it’s overconfidence or insecurity, both are rooted in pride because it’s just thinking about yourself. You can’t hide behind the lie that you’re doing something small when really you’re just afraid of going for it and possibly failing. If you think small, it’s gonna be difficult for you to see God in things because He is so big. Whether you’re doing something really small or something big, God is doing something way bigger than that. Your biggest dream is just a small part of the big things He is doing. We’re designed by God to do big things for Him in the kingdom. We need to dream big dreams and work toward fulfilling the design He’s given us. If we stay with the small dreams because we’re afraid, then we don’t actually live in the will of God.Nicole Standley
Ouch! She’s so right! We may try to play the humble card when really, we’re terrified of stepping out into something new by faith. Do you ever feel that way? I do. Looking back over my adult years, I can see when I would shrink back from using my gifts because it’s costly–it’s costly to my pride, to my time, and to my illusion of certainty. I might mess it up and lose face. I may have to sacrifice other things I enjoy in order to pursue it. I won’t know for sure that it’s actually going to work out. And all of these prices to pay are risky.
In Matthew 25:14-30, Jesus told a story that we call “The Parable of the Talents.” A master has given three servants a certain amount of money to steward (talents–each talent was the equivalent of 20 years wages for a laborer according to the ESV footnotes). One received five, another two, and the last servant received one. The first servant doubled his talents through trading, and the second servant also doubled his to four. But that third servant, afraid, hid the money. The master pronounced the first two servants as “good and faithful servants” and promised to entrust more to them. He also invited them to enter into his joy. But the third servant feared the master’s harsh nature and hid the money so that he wouldn’t risk losing any of it and be punished. But the master was appalled at the servant’s wickedness and slothfulness. He would have been more pleased if he had accrued some interest on the money. So he gave the talent to the first servant, and had the third servant thrown into outer darkness.
This parable is so revealing! Which servant do you identify with? Are you willing to take the large gifts you’ve received and increase them through your investment? Are you willing to take a seemingly small risk with your small gifts and see them double and grow? Or are you simply satisfied with burying them, hiding them where no one can see you fail? What Nicole and I realized as we conversed was that God desires for us to take risks. He doesn’t intend for us to sit back and never use the gifts He’s given us. And though He doesn’t give everyone the same gifts or the same amount of gifts, just as these servants all received varying amounts, He still intends for us to use only what He’s given us and to take risks to watch them grow and multiply in our lives and the life of the Church. God is not pleased when we walk in fear and insecurity.
What is the remedy?
Our faith. Four times in Scripture, God says, “The just shall live by faith” (Habakkuk 2:4, Romans 1:17, Galatians 3:11, and Hebrews 10:38, ESV). We are the justified, the ones who have been made righteous by the blood of Jesus. Earlier I told you that Nicole said that your small thing is just a tiny part of the big thing that God’s already doing, and that big thing that God is doing is building a kingdom, and He is doing that through His Son, Jesus! Jesus died a criminal’s death, was buried, and rose again to defeat sin, to destroy the works of the devil, and to victoriously prove that He is Lord of all–not Satan, not Caesar, there is no other name but Jesus by which we can be saved. But “he was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief, and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not” (Isaiah 53:3, ESV). Jesus Himself was not able to walk this path of suffering without faith. In fact, this was His prophetic faith-filled response in Isaiah 50:7, “But the Lord GOD helps me, therefore I have not been disgraced; therefore, I have set my face like a flint, and I know that I shall not be put to shame” (ESV).
The same is true of you, Christian. God has a purpose for you. He has gifted you to serve His church. Mere knowledge of what it is will never be enough. You must follow Jesus’ example, set your face like flint, knowing that God will help you to do what He has designed you to do. Fight fear with faith, never forgetting that this gifting was never really about you anyway. You were gifted to be a gift.
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