Saturday, May 19, 2007

Yet another post on the common life

A few months ago, I was making a joke / semi-apology for the smallness of the group I was leading, saying something like, "we may not be Beth Moore", you know, along those lines, and a dear friend of mine raises her hand and interrupts me with a statement I have pondered ever since. "Lisa," she says, "I think those big events with big attendance and big names are not God's primary focus. I think He is more about the small, the personal, the intimate, the ordinary, the regular, the relationship-oriented."

I've blogged many a post on ambition and validation and significance and the value of the ordinary. Yet, still...still, this issue tends to resurface. In my friend's words, I hear the gentle admonition of the Spirit, exposing that occasional yearning for some measure of "success." Somehow "success" equates confirmation: See, I am following God's will because look how successful I am!

So totally and completely wrong.

Consider the following excerpt from a post that never made it out of my draft pile:
Last night we finished up the Daniel Bible study by Beth Moore. Wow. Great stuff--deep, intense, challenging, one wild ride in Scripture as Beth would say. I know that I know that God has called me to teach, to communicate His Truth to women. But last night I found myself wondering why even try, when one can insert a DVD and get that kind of incredibly gifted, Spirit annointed teaching? In comparison, my offering seems so pitiful.

I think of the widow with two mites. Surely she must have felt like her offering was pitifully small, especially compared to what others were able to give. Jesus tells His disciples that she gave "everything--all she had to live on." I want to give Jesus my everything, I just want to know it will make a difference.

As I lay in bed last night, pondering this post, I wondered to myself, what kind of twisted theology is that, that says "okay, Jesus, I give you my all, but I want to know it will be worth it"? It's the theology of our culture, the theology of our enemy, the lies that tell us that success and worth are found in perceived effectiveness. I want to be funny so more people will read my blog and like me and comment and I can feel some kind of worth. I want to feel like I am as effective a Bible teacher as Beth Moore and if I can't then I will resort to inserting the DVD and pushing play, even though I am not Beth Moore and am not called to be Beth Moore.
How often we determine success--yes, even in ministry--in terms of the grand and the large!

Several weeks ago I caught a portion of an interview with easily the most influential woman in America. Her comments were full of new age philosophies, some subtle, some not so subtle. Some consider her a believer, but there are others who recognize she is not and have commented on the influence she could have for the Kingdom: just think if only she would proclaim Christ!

Truly she has a huge platform and untold influence. But I think of my friend's words, and Paul's assertion that God has chosen the foolish and the weak to be a display of His power.

Nothing wrong with using DVD studies. I am quite sure I haven't facilitated my last Beth Moore study. The problem comes when I think to myself, "why even try" and so use these types of studies as a crutch and fail to fan into flame the gift within me.

Nothing wrong with praying for the salvation of persons of influence. The problem comes when I use my comparatively small area of influence as an excuse to sit back and do nothing, concentrating on the "if only she" instead of "why not me."

We who belong to the kingdom of Christ have been called and gifted to proclaim Him in whatever area of influence we have been given, large or small, rich and famous or common and mundane. Successful ministry doesn't (necessarily) mean tv personalities or dvd studies. Success in ministry comes down to faith-full surrender, saying Yes to whatever God asks of us for today, giving Him everything, being confident that He who calls is faithful and He will do it. Yes, He can use the big names and the big events, but know this: He absolutely can (and will) use the small, the regular, the ordinary life that you and I both lead, as a display of His glory, showing the all surpassing power is from Him, and most definitely NOT from us.

14 comments:

  1. 1 Corinthians 1 v 27 - 28 comes to mind,"... God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty;and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are,.."
    Thank you for your post.

    Ann

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  2. Thank you for this gentle reminder. I too fall into the thinking that the smallness of what I do is often not worth anything. But we shouldn't think like that. We cannot see the big picture. And quite possibly we are all making a bigger impact than what we will ever know. It does come down to surrendering whatever we do have to the Lord for his good pleasure and purpose.

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  3. Amen, Lisa. Well-written and timely reminder that God desires the ALL type of surrender and service because God's economy counts matters differently.

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  4. Thank you, Lisa. I'm re-reading "Hard to Believe" and I'm once again thinking deeply on what it really means to surrender all of me to Christ. And I feel so very insignificant here where I live right now, but my insignificance is nothing compared to a faithful life lived spilled out for my savior. He will use us as He sees fit, and for His glory. And I know there is an area I need to be getting busy about, but have been putting off because of my insecurities. Thanks so much for sharing this. It really minstered to me tonight.

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  5. Amen, amen, sister. It's the long haul, faithful, everyday seemingly mundane, that takes us to the hope of glory; seeing Jesus face to face. Our job is to be faithful, like you said to whatever He is calling us to do.

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  7. Praise God for the ordinary, and thank YOU for putting it all so eloquently.

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  8. So well written! I am thankful He uses our regular ordinary lives, wherever we may be.

    Thanks for such a thoughtful post.

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  9. Dear Lisa
    You underestimate the responsibility God has seen fit to grant you! His influence, through you, is untold and profound. Here, on the opposite side of our little planet, I sit, hearing God's voice speak to me through your small blog. All christian bloggers, I'm sure, feel the tug of the Holy Spirit, cautioning us to take care what we write. We wear Christ's name when we profess to be Christians, and it is His grace we bear witness to. I am reminded of the little saying someone once shared with me - "You might be the only Bible someone will ever read" and the responsibility rests greatly on us who call ourselves by His name. But whatever you do, don't discount the place God has granted you, to witness for Him and His greatness. You testify to His amazing love, His ability to provide for you. And that testimony changes lives. He WILL equip you. He has already. And I praise God for you!

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  10. This reminds me of a conversation my Dad and I had. I love Beth Moore, and I do believe Beth is led by Christ. But when I was lamenting about "what can I do that makes a difference" my Father reminded me, in order to be seen as sucessful in Christ's eyes you just need to say yes to whatever His will is for your life. His will for my life could be something in the background only seen by Him, and Chist's will for Beth Moore is what she is doing. But in God's eyes we are both pleasing and sucessful to Him.

    Thought provoking post. Thank you.

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  11. Lisa,
    Your posts really give me something to think about and ponder and I love that.
    The last paragraph is so powerful!

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  12. Excellent post. Oh, how I can relate to your doubts and thoughts along these lines. It's almost like "If I can't do this job better than anyone, I'll let the best person do it." It's a total cop-out. Not only is there the probability that there can be more than one "best" person for the job, if God chose you, no matter how imperfect you may think you are, you ARE the best, because your HIS best - your His choice. It's a tough one to wrap my human brain around, but most certainly worth thinking about. Thanks for posting!

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  13. I found your blog tripping through Google one day and am already a faithful reader. What I love most about your blog is not the greatness of what you post (although I think it *is* great), but how one can see the leading of the Holy Spirit in you. That you have taken the time to lead others to Christ. I generally post a blog daily on my myspace account, but it is nothing of the breadth and depth of what you are writing. What I write serves no purpose other than 'blabbing'. It's sad that the times I *do* post a blog about my faith, I get few to no comments. When I post inane, silly things I'll get 15-20 comments! How we live our days is how we live our lives ... how much more worthwhile is what you are blogging than what I'm spending my time blogging? I believe that God is leading me to more ... will I have the strength to follow? I *love* what you write ... when I'm finished reading your blogs I have a sense of peace. I have a blog on blogspot that I started during a particularly rough time of strife in my life. I've set it to private as my own personal journal, but the answers God gave me during that time would surely be an inspiration to others. I have so much of 'self' to lose ... so much of 'what will people think of me if I start blogging about faith'? Hmmm ...

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