When Our Standards Become Our God
I’ve been trying to write this blog post for quite some time now but all I’ve been doing for the past hour or so has been typing, deleting, typing, deleting, typing, deleting, you get the picture. Then it hit me.
The words that I type on this page are important to me - too important.
What I publish represents me - and I want that which represents me to be perfect because I want to be perceived as perfect. This is [obviously] not the case. I am not perfect. Everyone knows it. So why do I hold myself to such a ridiculous standard? Because I’ve allowed my standard to be my god. I have already turned the work that I publish "for God" into an idol.
In his book, Counterfeit Gods, Tim Keller writes, "An idol is whatever you look at and say, in your heart of hearts, 'If I have that, then I'll feel my life has meaning, and then I'll know I have value, then I'll feel significant and secure'" (Here's a link to the book). If I'm being real with myself, I so long for my words to be convicting, deep, impactful, thought-provoking, eye-opening - but not always for the right reasons. More often than not, I care more about how my work will affect the way others see me than the way others see themselves. No matter how many times I told myself that I was writing this for God, I couldn't shake off the feeling that I was trying to fool myself and as I sat, staring at the blank screen, asking God why nothing was coming - why nothing sounded good enough or seemed to portray exactly what is in my mind, the answer so quietly crept its way into my heart ... It's because you haven't surrendered this post to Him yet ... And with a simple sentence, "Lord, I surrender this post to you," the words have begun to flow.
Just this past Sunday, I spoke at a church on the significance of cultivating a friendship with the Holy Spirit. The realization of how quickly & easily we forget that the sole purpose of our lives is to "glorify God and, to enjoy Him forever" (Westminster Shorter Catechism, Question 1) is sobering. Once more I'm reminded of the words that I have preached time after time - that God is a Father who loves to walk with us in our process who does not care for perfect execution as much as obedience and trust. This is such a simple truth - yet how often do we really think about it? How often do we act like we know and believe this to be true?
How many times have you withheld contributing something to the community because it didn't seem good enough to you?
I can't help but wonder how many blog posts, songs, sermons, simple conversations, innovations, etc. that would have impacted an innumerable amount of people have been withheld simply because they did not measure up to an impossible standard. I know that I am not alone in this fear - that what we have to offer to the world is not "good enough." Yet God has a knack of taking things that may be inadequate and using them mightily for His glory (see Matthew 14:13-21; Mark 6:30-44; John 6:1-14). I am a firm believer that God can use what I write to touch hearts and change lives. I am even more sure that if He can do that with me, He can do it with anyone.
Use the gifts that God has given you.
In Matthew 7, Jesus describes God as a loving Father who loves to give His children (that's us!) good gifts. But God doesn't give us gifts so that we can hog them for ourselves. My children understand that the things that Lydia and I buy them are for them to share - with one another but also with others that they play with. The heart of God is the same (if not better). God has given us gifts so that we could share them. In Romans 12, Paul encourages believers, as members of one body in Christ, to use the diverse gifts that they have been given for the building up of the body.
I had a revelation a while back about Gideon's army. In the story (Judges 7), God calls Gideon to lead the fight against Midian. Before the big "face-off," God filters Gideon's army from 32,000 men to 10,000 men to 300 men. 32,000 men to 300... Yet, still the men are confident because "God has given into his [Gideon's] hand Midian and all the camp" (v.14). God's strategy gets even more bizarre - beyond the sparse amount of troops He chooses for battle. The army of 300 men, now split into 3 companies of 100, are equipped, not with swords but, with trumpets, jars, and torches. The battle plan is "simple." When God gives the signal, blow the trumpets, smash the jars, and shout. For this to work, I believe that every man had to participate. Every man had to blow their trumpet, smash their jar, and shout without exception. I believe that the Lord is wanting to raise up an army in the same likeness today - to be used for His glory and accomplish impossible tasks with His leading. I am believing for a unity in the body of Christ that will reflect the oneness of the early Church. As every member of the body of Christ discovers his/her giftings and brings them to the table for the benefit of the community, the Church will see God move in powerful ways.
"Every" includes you.
As God's child, God has given you unique gifts to benefit the Body. If you choose not to participate, can God raise up someone else to fill the need? Without a doubt. Will you miss out? Absolutely. Does God want you to miss out? Of course not.
I encourage you to take some time, even now, to pray and listen.
If you are already serving in some capacity, are you doing too little or too much? Are you withholding a part of yourself because of fear/insecurity? Are you overcompensating for fear/insecurity by doing more than you should? Are you serving with the right heart? Take a moment to pause & assess where you are.
If you are not serving in any capacity, why not? What is holding you back? Do you feel inadequate? Do you feel like there is no need? Or are you just lazy/selfish?
Do not let what others may think about you hinder you from taking action. More importantly, do not be hindered by yourself! God required obedience, not perfection, from Gideon's army. They did not have to hit a perfect note with the trumpet. They did not have to break their jars a certain way. They did not have to scream louder than the person next to them. God does not require perfection from you. But He does want you to share. Share what your Father in heaven has given you with your brothers and sisters and, I guarantee, the Body will be better for it.