(You thought it was just a great title – it is actually one of the questions from the GFC Next Level Leaders class I did a few weeks ago. I thought it was a spectacular question…but not why you think. Read on!)
There is a very old and many times used statement…”being in ministry wouldn’t be so hard if it wasn’t for the people.” When I hear that (and yes, I have said it a few times myself), I hear a very old laugh track in the back of my brain. As long as there has been “ministry,” there have been people. And where there are people, there are problems. You would think that would be what really bothers me about either ministry or people but actually, it isn’t the thing that really bothers me. Let me tell you a story…
My son, Casey, was playing football one year. Like most dads, I loved watching him play! I was amazed at how he could run, throw and tackle. He was always courageous out there and got up every time he took a hit. Even he would tell you there were more talented people out there, but he pushed himself to play hard and have fun. The thing I loved most was that he chose to be a leader. He would be the one encouraging his teammates and jump in first to lead during practice. His leadership was an extra dimension he brought to the team. Except for one practice. Something happened on the field and Casey didn’t like it. Instead of encouraging his teammates to shrug it off, he came over to the sideline, stood by himself and sulked. I walked over to him and he was mad. Like he knew what I was going to say, he held up his hand and said, “I know Dad, just let me stay mad for now.” I backed off and went back to watching practice. He finished up with a lackluster attitude and effort. When we got into the car, we talked about the situation and he vented his frustration. Honestly, he was right about the situation and had a legitimate reason to be mad. (I would have been too…). I agreed with him saying, “Casey, you are right about this. Your reasons are right on, your frustrated, and you have every right to be. BUT, here is what you did that I cannot agree with today or ever. You took yourself out of the game – all your gifts, talents and leadership – and put it on a shelf. When you did that, you could no longer bring influence to the situation.” It was a true “light bulb” experience for both of us.
What really bothers me about people? When they take themselves out of the game and put all that their Heavenly Father has blessed them with in the form of gifts, talents, abilities, wisdom, understanding and relationship…and they put themselves on the shelf. Notice I said, “they put themselves.” They are doing the same thing Casey did – they go away from others, they sulk, act like everyone else is wrong, take a victim mentality, looking for someone to tell them “they are right to be mad, sad, etc. So instead of tapping into all the power and strength of knowing an infinite God, they put Him in a box and themselves into a cage of resentment, bitterness and rejection.
As people, we experience real hurts each day. There is no denying that there are broken people who will impact our lives and we will experience pain. We have to wisely deal with that and get the help we need. But my frustration is more about when people do it to themselves. We can undermine all that God is doing to move us forward.
The other part of this frustration is when people way more talented than I don’t use their gifts and talents to the best of their ability – putting them on the shelf because of fear, insecurity and pride. If you ever watched me do something, you recognize that I probably worked pretty hard to be able to do that. I am not a natural speaker, communicator, strategist, athlete and relationship builder. If it is important to me, I work hard at it to become more proficient at it. I know people who just “flow” when they teach or speak, people who can sing like a pro and athletes who can “get into the game” so easily…yet they falter. Not with dealing with success, but with themselves. They let fear, insecurity and pride eat them up. I have done my share of dealing with these three as well. In the end, I chose God’s design to overcome them and walk free from their strongholds. For someone to use their gifts and talents in true freedom from these chains is truly an amazing thing to watch.
If you could put all your talents, gifts, abilities and personality into a box – where would it be? On the table of life being unpacked at the right time to maximize the impact you can have on this world and others. Or is it on the shelf…filled with potential waiting to be released to a world and others who so desperately need you to bring your best so they can be inspired, challenged and led into a new place of growth. Like Casey, you are the greatest influence to that person or in that situation that is challenging you today. What are you going to choose to do?
Final thought…the only one who can put you on or off that shelf…is you!