Archive for the ‘Worth’ Category

It’s Okay To Be Imperfect

Are you a perfectionist? Being deliberately bad at a number of things fooled me into thinking I wasn’t. But that was only so I could have the energy to be a perfectionist at what was important to me.

Things like my spiritual maturity, being a husband and father, and my ministry have been the focus with some success. But it’s never enough. Being a good father seemed to morph into being a perfect one. Being productive in ministry increased to being even more fruitful. Good was not good enough.

When I graduated from seminary eight years ago I envisioned myself as a Movement leader. Unless God used me to turn the hearts and minds of hundreds or even thousands toward the deeper spiritual walk I had experienced in seminary, I was falling short. This was perfectionism in action.

I am slowly learning to be content with fulfilling the roles that God has assigned for me, even if it feels like a third of a loaf instead of a whole one. Each new project is now carefully evaluated  to insure it comes from God. Seeking to be perfect in my eyes is a waste of time because it is unnecessary, for God has already said to each of us, “You are precious to me. You are honored, and I love you” (Isaiah 43:4, NLT). By accomplishing more, we will never be valued or loved more than we are today.

image.png

Many of us are taught to aim high and if we fall short, we still have accomplished a lot. But failure can cause discontent and the fear of trying. Several times in my career I have accepted jobs that were over-my-head and suffered the pain of failure. It helps us to remember our importance does not depend on how impressive the job we hold is to us or others but on it being God’s assignment.

I recently decided to stay involved in a ministry that was only doing a fraction of what I hoped it’s impact would be some day. I wanted to accomplish a fuller impact sooner. But God usually doesn’t work that way. It’s “little by little” and “step by step. ”A hard worker has plenty of food, but a person who chases fantasies has no sense” (Proverbs 12:11, NLT). Let us lay aside our fantasies and follow God in pursuit of his ministry.

Ninety-two percent of New Year’s resolutions fail. Perfectionism often drives us to make unrealistic goals and when we fail, we give up. We never think of  cutting our goals in half.

Let us be content with who we are and what we do. After trusting God for his power and doing our best, may we rest in who we are to God. We need to let go of trying to earn importance and approval from God and others by being perfect.

We are already important and approved of by him. We have a perfect standing with him. Let’s look forward to the day in heaven when our performance will be perfect as well. In the meantime, we are still important, accepted, and loved by God, despite being imperfect.

 

 

Read Full Post »

Many of us measure our importance by silly standards. For example, if we have the greenest yard in the neighborhood, we are more important. Last week, I consulted with someone who had a far more prosperous writing ministry than I have. His grass was greener. Through a three-year process, I had grown humble enough to receive counsel from this man. Basically, he encouraged me to be faithful to help the few who were benefitting from my writing ministry and not be upset that it wasn’t as prosperous as his. He advised me to focus on helping the precious people who read what I wrote and not focus on comparing.

So What That Our Grass Isn’t as Green?

Most of us want to be important. We want our life to count. But we often believe lies about our importance. We believe that green yards measure our importance-and they don’t. If we can’t do one thing apart from God’s help that will stand the test of God’s judgment, how can we take credit for results as an indication of our worth (1 Corinthians 3:10-15)?

God says, “You look at how green your yard is, I look at why you strive for the green yard” (1 Samuel 16:7, paraphrased). Are we striving for the green yard to gain worth or to be faithful to God to take care of what he has given us?

And if it’s not as green, so what? God looks to see if we are using his knowledge, skills, and opportunities that he gives us. He promises us rewards if we use them wisely. He consoles us too by saying, “To whom little is given, little is required” (Luke 12:48, paraphrased).

Another problem that we have in striving after the greenest yard is that we are never satisfied. It’s built into our DNA that if we are using green yards to measure our worth, we will never feel consistently important (Ecclesiastics 6:7). There will always be someone with a greener yard that will make us feel unsatisfied.

A lesson I’m still learning is that green grass is not God’s goal for me. His primary goal for me is that I would allow him to help me water, weed, and fertilize the lawn. He wants to be my companion and helper through all of life, including striving for a green yard (Matthew 7:23).

How to Live Without Having the Greenest Lawn

An important way we can avoid frustration and discouragement is to not compare lawns. This often leads to pride or despair. When we “measure ourselves, by ourselves, we are not wise” (2 Corinthians 10:12, paraphrased). Instead, we need to accept God’s free gift of importance and quit trying to earn it by have the greenest yard.

As mentioned, we are not wired to be content. Not only this, our society doesn’t want us to be content so that it can sell us things we don’t need. So, how can we be content when someone has a greener lawn? God says we can’t by ourselves. But we can with his help. Paul says,” I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation… I can do all this through him who gives me strength” (Philippians 4:12-13).

A final thought about how to live without the greenest lawn is to stay focused on the truth. We are precious, no matter what our lawns look like (Isaiah 43:4). Greener lawns or better results will never increase our worth to God-it’s already sky high (Psalm 103:11). And God is not interested in us being the Green Lawn Person anyway, but in being the person he created us to be. “For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago” (Ephesians 2:10, NLT).

 

 

 

Read Full Post »

You Are Important!

I have always wanted to be important. For the most part, I haven’t regarded myself as that important because there were usually enough others that could outperform in an area that I was using to measure my worth.

If it wasn’t being too short, it was not being outgoing enough. If it wasn’t amassing as much power as someone else, it was not being as smart as some brain in the class.

There always seemed to be a reason to hinder my sense of being important.

I am sure that you struggle with being important too. Maybe we are not important?

Yet, God says, “[I] have made [you] a little lower than [Me], and have crowned [you] with glory and majesty” (Psalm 8:4-5, brackets added).

What? I am important? Based on what?

Based on how God sees us. Not based on being the brightest bulb in the package. Not based on being the best looking. And not based on being the wealthiest person in the graduating class.

What makes us important for all time is that that we are important to God. These are some things he says to us about how important we are to him:

  • “You are precious” (Isaiah 43:4)
  • “Let us make [you] like us, according to our likeness” (Genesis 1:26, brackets added)
  • “[I] see [your] ways and number all [your] steps” (Job 31:4, brackets added))
  • “You did not choose Me, but I chose you” (John 15:16)
  • “See how great a love [i have] bestowed upon you that you should be called [My child] (1 John 3:1, brackets added)
  • Do you not know that you are a temple of God, and that [I live] in you” (1 Corinthians 3:16, brackets added)
  • “He who touches you, touches the apple of [My] eye” (Zechariah 2:8, brackets added)
  • “The very hairs of your head are all numbered” (Luke 12:7)

So, if we are important to God, what difference does it make?

It makes a big difference! We can quit striving to be important and learn to rest in being as important as we will ever be.

You may say, “This is sheer nonsense. Surely, my getting promoted, having a great family, and being well-known and respected makes me more important.”

No it doesn’t.

Not in God’s eyes it doesn’t. And he is the One who determines how important we are, not what you and others think. So we have stopped evaluating others [and our self] from a human point of view” (2 Corinthians 5:16, NLT, brackets added).

Because we are important, another difference is that “we have bold and confident access” (Ephesians 3:12) to God at anytime. We were important enough that Jesus died on the cross to make this access a reality.

A third difference being important has is that God wants to make us like himself and to use us to work alongside him in changing the world. “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:10).

So let’s accept the fact that we are important! And that will never change. Thank God for his gift of importance!

 

 

Read Full Post »

It’s Okay to Fail

I hate to fail. I am also afraid to fail. I have been trained to think and feel that I am less important when I fail.

As a result, I have been reluctant to take big risks. My perceived worth is too tied up with getting good results. If I fail, I will struggle with a loss of self-esteem. So I usually play it safe.

But this is wrong!

This is not true!

This is not how God sees us when we fail. He sees us as “precious”, win or lose. “You are precious” (Isaiah 43:4).

We often rely on the lie that our importance depends on success and meeting some artificial standard.  But it doesn’t.

Our importance is a gift from God, and not something we earn through success.

We are so important to God that he died for us (John 3:16). Failure can’t diminish our importance to him. We are free to fail and not be diminished in any way in God’s eyes. He still values us, accepts us, and loves us the same. “[Nothing] shall be able to separate us from the love of God” (Romans 8:39).

So, I have begun to take risks over the last few years. I have stuck my neck out and tried, although failure was a strong possibility.

I have written a book because I believed God wanted me to. “But God, I have not been trained to write. I was trained to be an engineer.”

I went to seminary at 60 years old because God wanted me to. “But God, what am I suppose to do with a degree in my retirement years?”

I started a ministry to help people to connect to God in a deeper way. “But God, people may reject the teachings and you know how sensitive I am to criticism and failure.

By accepting our importance as a gift from God, we become freer to try and sometimes fail. We rely on our importance as something God gives us and not something we earn. “He who did not spare his own son but delivered Him up for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things?” (Romans 8:32).

Yes, it hurts to fail. We feel disappointed when others think less of us, or we think less of ourselves for not meeting some goal of ours. But know that God does not think less of us. “I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5).

Even when we do God’s will we can fail. Jeremiah was known as “The Weeping Prophet.” His ministry was a big failure. The people would not listen to his words.

But did he fail?

I don’t think so. He did what God wanted him to do. And he suffered for it. He probably did not feel very important at times.

Like Jeremiah, if we fail while obeying God, we have not failed. We have not been diminished. We have not lost a thing of true importance. “You are precious in My sight,.. You are honored and I love you” (Isaiah 43:4).

And if we fail while disobeying God, we have not failed to be important, or accepted or loved. We may be disciplined. “For those whom the Lord loves He disciplines” (Hebrews 12:6).

We have been blessed “with every spiritual blessings in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 1:3). One of these blessings is that we can fail and still be okay.

Read Full Post »

The Search for Significance

I am currently involved in mentoring a small group of medical students. It is part of a program to help them to integrate their faith into their future medical practice. The curriculum we use for the mentoring portion is the book, The Search for Significance.

Why would we use this book? Why is it important for medical students to know where their significance comes from? Why would over two million people have read this book?

Medical students, like us all, need to feel significant. God made us this way. The problem is that most of us search in all the wrong places for significance.

We often believe that we are significant if we are strong, a high achiever, or approved of by the powerful. However, we never seem strong enough, or achieve enough, or approved of enough to be satisfied that we are significant (Proverbs 27:20).

God says, that these ways are “broken cisterns that can hold no water” (Jeremiah 2:13). These are false ways to becoming significant. They do not satisfy because they are not God’s way to be significant.

God’s way is for us to live in the reality that we are already significant! We do not need to search for it! “You are precious, you are honored, and I love you” God tells us in Isaiah 43:4.

But we say to ourselves, ”This is crazy! This doesn’t make sense! This is not how my life works!”

Of course our life doesn’t work this way. “For My ways are higher than your ways,” says God (Isaiah 55:9). His way is to give us significance as a gift for being his child.

However, we have been trained to earn significance. Medical students in particular have been trained to earn significance through their achievements and the approval of society. “Who needs God to be significant?” they may say to themselves.

So, how can we find significance God’s way? How can we call off the search for it? How can we learn to accept our weaknesses, the disapproval from others, and failure to achieve our goals and still regard ourselves as significant?

Keep in mind it is a journey of a thousand miles. But it does begin with one or two steps. Let me suggest a couple of them.

First, buy and read the book, The Search for Significance.

Then, ask God to help you to recall any incident during the day where you felt insignificant. Imagine yourself back in each of those scenes and thank him for his gift of significance to you.

Read Full Post »