There are few things funnier than seeing someone full of themselves get their pants pulled down in public. As a youth pastor, I got mine pulled down while crossing an intersection. Believe me, I will never forget the experience…and neither will the drivers in that intersection!
The first half of my adult life, I’d have to say that God was teaching me humility and discipline mostly – in other words, He had to repeatedly let the air out of my ego. When I started out in ministry, I’d have to admit (along with my most severe critics) that it was pretty much all about me. My attitude was: God has gifted me, called me into ministry – therefore, my job was to give people the benefit of those gifts. Um…yeah, pretty arrogant.
Over the course of several years spent employing this stellar philosophy, God proceeded to “beat the living crap out of me”, as I’m now fond of reporting. I discovered to my surprise that, despite my extensive talents and gifts, God refused to use me in any measurable significant way. Oh… and on an additional note, people couldn’t stand me either.
I realized that God wouldn’t use me until I became less about promoting myself and more about helping people and serving Him (imagine that!). So over the course of the next several years, I became a “recovering jerk” and tried to let God teach me how to be humble. Instead of promoting myself, I helped others use their gifts. I wrote songs and never told the audience that they were mine. I asked others to sing the solos, and rarely took one myself. I wrote plays but gave others the large parts, only occasionally taking the smallest of roles for myself.
So if you are one of those creatives that think your “tremendous gifting” gives you a free pass out of being a decent human being, think again. No one is so talented that they are indispensable. People will ditch you and use someone humble and much less talented…and they’ll be just fine with that lesser amount of excellence. Just how easily I could be replaced was a lesson I learned repeatedly, and to my inexhaustible astonishment.
That was a great lesson learned, but there is one problem with it: if i stopped listening to God at that point, I might spend the rest of my life assuming He never wanted my performing gifts to shine again. I’d take those early lessons and think that there would never be a time when God decided to take a different strategy in dealing with me. But God is always changing His tactics – His teaching methods. He never wants us to get lazy following Him, or to think that we’ve got a handle on all that “God stuff”.
Also, He knows that once we learn a lesson, it is time for Him as the Great Teacher to take us through a completely different class. This way, we keep growing and improving. So on the next blog, I’ll tell you what God taught me AFTER He humbled me…