Lori Boucher wrote an awesome entry today about being passionate about being who you are (check it out here).
Her thoughts are something that I have come to terms with since I moved back to Halifax five years ago.
At the time, I really wrestled with being recognized or appreciated (or at least needing that, or needing people to see me and my value as a person and a part of the body of Christ). I struggled because I was engaged in things I was passionate about, which was amazing, but conflicted about not rising to prominence through that.
God really challenged me on that- about both striving to be someone "big", and about making others "bigger" than myself in order to rise to their level somehow.
I finally came to a place where I found rest- I had to make up my mind about two things:
1. That if what I was doing was really for God- the audience of one- and that if it pleased him, then affirmation from elsewhere was irrelevant. Was I going to be satsified and fulfilled with the pleasure of God, or was I going to be selfish and require people to fawn over me to meet my needs for signficance?
2. Whether or not I would allow myself to find my identity in who God says I am instead of my value to others in what I can do, and what I contribute to others. Would I accept God at face value when he says that I am fearfully made, that I am no more or less significant or important to the work of the church than the newest Christian or the most famous pastor?
Talk about dying to self. It's one thing to say that you are going to make up your mind about stuff life this- it's another to live out your decision.
But, with God's help, I did. I stopped looking at my role in ministry as a vehicle to esteem, honour and even notoriety. I started seeing it as my opportunity to bless God's heart in a way that only I could. When I did, it was like a whale was lifted off my back and spirit, and I felt less burdened and more effective, confident and connected to others than ever. I was able to say things like "This is important to me, but it doesn't matter if it's me that accomplishes it- my passion is to see it happen. If I can be part of it in any way at, especially if it's an invisible role- it would be joy to my heart to see it come together," and really mean it.
I also stopped feeling inferior and superior to people. I totally respect figures within the church who have found a place of esteem- Billy Graham, TD Jakes, David Demian- they are gifted and important, and I would be remiss not to honour them for their service to the church. But where I used to feel second class and intimidated to talk with people on what I perceived to be a higher level, I found myself discovering that they are people just like me- their underwear gets dirty, they get tired and cranky, they have bad habits they struggle with- and that their part of body isn't more critical than mine. If I don't fulfill my role, they suffer like I would if they abdicated their role.
I could approach serving with a confidence that what I was doing really did matter, and that as much as I could learn from them, I had something that could bless them too.
And I stopped finding my significance in function. I'm not valuable because of everything I do- I am valuable because I am me, because God created me because he wanted to and felt I was needed in the world. I am a masterpiece in progress, something beautiful underway, and there is no one of whom this is not true.
So when I say that I refuse to be "small" anymore, I mean that I refuse to belittle, devalue and constrain myself to destiny that is far lesser than the destiny God intends. I approach everything I do as if I am a critical factor in its success, and work to achieve that success knowing that in doing so I have a ready made opportunity to point people to Christ when it comes time to acknowledge contribution and hand out honour, because anything I can do stems directly from how much God has invested in me and enabled me to do.
So Lori, RIGHT ON. Well put, and to all of you out there- remember this little song I learned when I was a little boy if you feel like shrinking back from being who God made you to be:
I'm someone special
I'm the only one of my kind
God gave me a body
and a bright and healthy mind
He has a special purpose
That He wants me to find
That's why I'm someone special
I'm the only one of my kind..
As we like to say here in Nova Scotia when considering whether to go for it or not, just give'er.