Well, I got an answer to a question that had been on my mind for quite some time. Or should I say, it was more of a rebuke. As I listened to the pastor in church speak on servitude a few days ago, I began to feel a subtle conviction in my spirit. Serving is one of the main facets of the Heavenly Father’s character and nature. As we live out our days here on the earth, our lives are supposed to be devoted to a cause infinitely greater than ourselves: His Kingdom. Creative people in the Kingdom like me can lose sight of this in the midst of us using our God-ordained gifts for Him. We can make the mistake of allowing our gifts and talents to dictate how we think we should be used for the Kingdom. Now of course, there are many people who don’t have this issue and I admire them. I wish I were more like them.
As I continued listening to God speak through my pastor, I began to swallow that painful pill that says I still need some attitude adjustments as it relates to ministry. The truth is that I have NO desire to be an usher, greeter or a parking lot attendant. Is that a sin? I don’t believe so, however, our dedication to the Kingdom should be such that we are willing to do ANYTHING that is needed. It is NOT based upon what we desire, and we should consider it an honor that we are being used in any capacity, if we are indeed sold out to the Kingdom. In my case, I have such a love for the arts (mainly writing) that it often has determined my actions as it relates to ministry. In other words, I only want to participate or serve in ministry activities if it involves the use of my creative abilities. Wow… Somehow the focus has gone from the Kingdom to my own self-fulfillment. Lord I repent… Forgive me.
Many times when there have been outreach opportunities, I have passed them up because I wanted to spend that time working on my own Kingdom endeavors. I have failed to realize time and time again that those things will happen in His perfect time. Now, I’m not trying to throw myself under the bus because I do love being a blessing to others. I especially adore kids, but of course, like many other people, I often want to dictate to God how and when I should be used. We are more comfortable using our talents that might bring us some praise from others when He is the only one to be praised. For example, there are individuals who believe that their only function is to be a praise and worship leader. They believe this so much that it dictates where they attend church. They leave churches and join churches based upon opportunities to show off their musical chops and draw attention to themselves. The ego! How sad… They are willing to leave a church to go to another where they can garner more attention and also do what they desire instead of listening to the voice of the lord. So despite my love for writing or even stage drama, what if the lord needs me to be a janitor for a season? What if He is beckoning me to simply be a volunteer for the different conferences at the church throughout the year? I had to ask myself, would I rather be at an open mic doing my thing, or at a nursing home giving encouraging words to those whose families may have abandoned them? Lord heal my heart! Who am I to tell the One who knew me before I was formed in my mother’s womb that I don’t want to be used in that capacity? We forget so quickly that we were created for His good pleasure. I have used the excuse of being involved in other ministries as a reason to not get involved even though I had the time to spare. As if my time really truly belongs to me… Uh oh…
Going deeper into this, I have come to the realization that the intimacy in my relationship with Him needs to increase like never before! Something is wrong when I don’t reverence Him enough where I am joyfully willing and able to do whatever He asks. Too much flesh is in the way and more of me needs to die so He can live. The closer I get to Him, the more I should be able to enjoy this journey of allowing Him to lead me. The more that I let go of my self-imposed identity, the more He can use me for His glory. I want to follow Him like a little child without having my own agenda. I and many others need to let go of the desire to only operate in areas of the Kingdom where we “flourish” or in ways that only please self. Now here is a jawbreaker for you… God may not need your specific talent/gift in this season. Ouch! It may not be the right time, so get to cleaning! LOL. Seriously though, He always requires our OBEDIENCE. We have to understand that just because you can sing your butt off doesn’t mean that is your main function in the Kingdom. That gift is to be used when and how HE desires. Otherwise, when it is used more for self-gratifying reasons, it becomes performance and not ministry. Ultimately, we all essentially have to die to that talent or ability that seems to become an idol when we least expect it. Or should I say, simply lay it on the altar?
There is so much more to this journey than your gifts. Don’t let pride and ego become a stumbling block in your journey. Operating in humility will bring forth more blessings than we can imagine. Who knows? Maybe while you clean the church toilets, you cross paths with the businessman who is willing to fund that Kingdom project that God laid on your heart. Maybe after being faithful in serving in the Children’s ministry, you unknowingly minister to that record company executive’s baby girl, and that’s all she wrote! Maybe you’ll meet your future spouse while volunteering at one of the outreach efforts. When we follow God, ANYTHING is possible. So I am going to find an area of ministry at the church and commit to it, and it will be the ministry that He chooses. Not the one that makes me feel good or that satisfies my creative juices. The truth is that we must all lay down our Isaac. There is sure to be a ram in the bush hidden somewhere…
September 7, 2011 at 4:03 pm
October 3, 2011 at 6:57 pm
Nathan thank you for reminding us that we were created to glorify God, and the way to do that is for us to be in His perfect will ackowledging him in everything that we do. It’s not about me. What a lesson!
September 8, 2011 at 9:17 am
I love this Nathan because you are not just giving us information but sharing your journey and if we were all to truly honest–ours as well. I repent as well. If you are giving any information it is to be humble and that humility is a powerful weapon in our lives as we serve the King and be–come more like Him.
September 10, 2011 at 3:39 pm
I am glad I got a chance to read Hard Candy. I appreciate a reminder to stay humble before God and allow Him to do the work.God bless good reading
September 12, 2011 at 5:21 pm
Transparent perspective and serving is indeed an honor and privilege. I was challenged as well to realize it is not what i want but where there is a need and i am in the transition phase to step up and not just lean to my preferences in areas that i may like or want to serve vs where i need to serve.
September 26, 2011 at 2:20 pm
Nathan – I particularly liked the message of Mother’s getting Father’s Day cards! There is a bit of “redefining” going on these days on what constitutes normal. In my opinion and only in my opinion, we have to provide kids with love, respect, and honor their ability to become whatever their dreams and their talents allow them to become. President Obama was raised by a Mother with no Father in the home and the same is true of President Clinton. Their parent is deserving of and should be recognized for doing the jobs of both parents and instilling in both the fact that Father’s are married to their child’s Mother and will work through every hardship to allow the child to “be all they can be.” That is an old Army motto, but it applies to this situation, too.
October 30, 2011 at 4:14 pm
I went back to read your posts and would like to respond to this one.
This is a wonderful place to be: coming to know that true submission to God’s plan for the Kingdom is doing what He needs done at that particular time, or moment, whether we feel equipped to handle the temperament, skill or responsibility that completing the task entails. True servitude comes when we are moved out (pushed into, broken out) of what we think we do well and enjoy naturally – into a position that fulfils God’s agenda, period. When we are submitted to doing this, somehow His presence empowers us with the gifting need to carry out the task! This takes faith and a true servant’s heart.
Thanks for sharing.