This post is part of a series on the five things I need to remind myself of every morning. Click here to read the rest of the series.
The fourth of my Morning Statements of Faith is probably the most important for me personally to keep reminding myself. It reads:
God does not need me for His will to be accomplished and nothing that I do can make Him love me more or save me faster or better. Instead, he allows me the joy and pleasure of participating in the things He is doing in the world.
This was a lesson that God had to teach me over an extended period of time but it made a tremendous difference in my life. Honestly, it’s a little difficult for me to talk about because I am embarrassed at the person I used to be. There was a time where I thought I was one of God’s superheroes.
Yes, I know that sounds silly. It is silly. But I was saved at a young age. I was blessed to be born into a Christian home with parents who were dedicated to Christ. I was the kid who answered every question in Sunday School correctly and did it before anyone else had a chance to even raise their hand. I always felt close to God because I knew that He was proud of me for knowing so much. In my small church, people praised me probably more than they should have because I seemed so smart.
As I grew up in this small church, it became smaller and smaller. Because the numbers were dwindling, I had a lot of opportunities to serve. I was one of the youngest people ever elected as an elder in that church. My wife and I were the youth leaders for several years. I taught Sunday School. I became the choir director. I would even preach sometimes. And people would praise me and although I would have denied any pride at the time, I felt important and I felt like God was lucky to have me on his team. I was one of his superheroes. I started to look down on everybody else because in my eyes they weren’t doing enough and I thought it was because they weren’t as good a Christian as I was.
Ultimately, I was part of starting a praise band and then a contemporary service at that church. I started playing bass in addition to singing because we couldn’t find anyone else to, so of course I was going to step up and take care of it. But I found myself getting more and more frustrated. I didn’t know why at the time, but looking back now, I realize that it wasn’t about what God was doing, it was about what I was doing. I thought I was doing it all for God, but deep down I was working as hard as I could so that God would be proud of me and accept me.
Soon there came a point where my wife and I decided we had to leave that church. And so for about two years, we visited different churches and I was on the sidelines as far as ministry goes. I didn’t have to lead worship, play bass, teach, preach, or anything else. I just sat in the pew, and I was a little bit broken. I didn’t feel important to God anymore. I felt like He had kicked me to the curb. But what He was showing me was that He didn’t need me. His church and His work was going to go ahead just fine (and even better) without me being involved or dreaming up plans or leading people where I thought they should go. God didn’t NEED me at all.
So after that two year period when we found our current church, God allowed me to slowly get involved again. The worship leader found out that I played bass and there’s never enough bass players on the planet so I started filling in and playing bass every so often. But it was different – I wasn’t in charge, I wasn’t leading, and I understood that it was okay if the person in charge didn’t do things the way I thought they should be done. I was serving. And I had learned that the quality or amount of my service was not what determined whether God loved me a whole lot or just a little.
So now I was serving not because I thought I had to or to make God love me more but because I understood the joy of being a part of what God is already doing! And when you serve from that perspective, it makes all the difference in the world. You don’t get burnt out as much, frustrated as much, you don’t always feel guilty that you aren’t doing enough, and you can really, really enjoy what you are doing for God’s Kingdom! And so, I’m not trying to be God’s superhero anymore. I’m just having fun being on His team and excited about the opportunities he has given me to serve others, like two mission trips to Jamaica, music camps, and leading worship in a bunch of different places. But I have a tendency to forget this lesson that was so difficult to learn, so it’s one of my morning statements of faith.
Ephesians 2:8-9: For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.