I was punched in the stomach today. Not literally, but figuratively. I won’t get into the details. The essence is that someone I thought would be one of my biggest supporters basically said my book isn’t worth study.
Did I mention, Ouch? Yeah….. it stung.
The crazy thing is it came after an amazing, God ordained service based on the content of that very same book.
I’ve been working on a post for over a week about trying to keep my pride and my own aspirations out of the ministry God has called me to do.
Here is the best part of what I tried (unsuccessfully) to put into a complete post:
I simply know my own pride and the battle I face to keep my focus on leading others to follow God. I never stop wanting others to connect to Christ, but sometimes the desire to see my own success is just as strong or stronger than my desire to see people grow in relationship with God.
It’s not a pretty side of me. I’m not proud of my pride.
These reflections were God preparing me for gut punches and ego boosts. In ministry you experience both frequently. I know God gave me a message to write, and I wrote it. Who it ministers to is up to him. I know God called us to pastor a new church. Who will find life giving faith through it is up to him.
How I respond to the book’s reception and people’s assessments of our church is up to me.
I desperately want the book to minister to thousands (God sized dream), and I can’t get my own pride to be separate from that dream. It isn’t a greed issue; 90% of what I get goes to the church. It is a pride issue; I want to share the applause with God.
God, thank you for the gifts, talents, and dreams you have given me. Help me to maintain a healthy perspective of who I am and what you have called me to do. You have commissioned me to live authentically before you and man. You have called me to demonstrate that we can be righteous through our faith not our ability to follow rules and regulations. This is a scary place to be because I know my failings, and I know how quick others are to criticize. It is hard to be open and vulnerable, but I know your acceptance is all I need. Help me to live that out, even when it is hard.
This morning, before my gut punch experience, I read Romans 1-3. I had highlighted this verse:
A man is not a Jew just because he goes through the religious act of becoming a Jew. The true Jew is one whose heart is right with God. The religious act of becoming a Jew must be done in the heart. That is the work of the Holy Spirit. The Law does not do that kind of work. The true Jew gets his thanks from God, not from men. (Romans 2:28,29 NLV)
God knows the words we need before we need them.
Maybe it wasn’t a gut punch this afternoon; maybe it was a gut check- a test or assessment of courage, character, or determination.
God, give me the courage, character, and determination to continually do exactly what you call me to do… and to do it for an audience of one- You.