I think The Flash (particularly in Lego) is one of my favourite superheroes. He just seems very content in who he is! He has a very limited range of power but it is truly awesome, incredibly useful and he definitely knows how to use it.
Now I didn’t come here to talk about superheros, or Lego, even though that would be fun and obviously worthwhile. I wanted to talk about my struggle with working amongst so many gifted youth & children’s work ‘superheroes’! Now I am a work in progress and part of my journey has been to find contentment in who God has called me to be and not to always be looking around and wanting to have someone else’s ‘power’, gifts or ministry. I wouldn’t say it is a daily struggle but some days when my mind wanders or I feel a bit in between things I do spend far too much time wondering what if…
The reason I am writing this blog is actually to give myself a big kick up the butt because spending too much time looking ‘over there’ actually distracts me from what God is doing in my own ministry. And I am blessed to be able to say God is doing great things, there is much fruit, there is great encouragement, there is growth. So I ask myself “what am I looking for elsewhere?” The honest answer is I don’t know, but I think part of it is linked to how we as Christians ‘rank’ ministry. Bizarrely there seems to be a hierarchy in ministry where we think some are better or more worthwhile or ‘cooler’ than others. Maybe as Christians we need to be extra careful of why we are doing things, is it to serve or is it to be noticed, I do confess sometimes I want to be noticed!
In the book of Exodus the 10th commandment says “thou shalt not covet” – one commentator describes this as ‘the language of discontent at our own lot!’ Maybe like The Flash I need to be more content with ‘my own lot’, because I love what I do, it gives me life and so when moments of weakness and jealousy come I must bring myself back to what God has given me and who God has made me to be. I am unique but also my calling is unique, God has shaped it for me.
One of the wisest things I heard while at a conference in the US was “unfollow the right people” – this came from a very gifted pastor who even with his vast giftings and growing ministry still found himself looking at others in ministry and being jealous! It got to the point where it actually became a real distraction to what God was doing in him and his calling. Part of his journey was to give up social media for a while and also surround himself with some trusted friends who could encourage him but also journey with him through the battles.
I gave myself three bits of wisdom to help me work through my struggles and insecurities:
1. MY gifts come from God, who knows what he is doing, knows who he is giving them to and enables me to use them to his glory – “All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he distributes them to each one, just as he determines” (1 Corinthians 12:11).
2. Seek specific and tailored encouragement from someone you trust. I think sometimes we hunger for affirmation and this can sometimes become a bit of addiction. What I am seeking is a couple of friends who know me and know what I need to be able to stand and grow and continue to serve.
3. Know that much of the good God does through you, you may never actually see the fruit of, well until we get to heaven and recognise the people we poured our lives into! Just this week I heard from someone who over the past decade I have known but was unaware just how much influence and benefit he had gained from my ministry. We do this not for affirmation but God chooses to remind us that he is at work and what we do matters, a lot.
Mike, stop looking over there and focus on here, because I am here and I am at work in you. Love God.