What are your goals and ambitions? I remember as I was growing up, I wanted to be everything from an astronaut (what little boy doesn’t?), to an archaeologist to a pharmacist to a physiotherapist (it’s a long story!) As I grew older, I found things that I was good at, and began to lean towards biology and then microbiology. As I have progressed, I still want to be the best Biomedical Scientist that I can be, but the specifics of what that looks like have changed quite a bit.
It’s not only my career that I have dreams and goals for though. If I’m honest, I haven’t always had dreams for my spiritual life. For the majority of my life I believed that being a Christian was normal, that church was something you went to because you had to, and life as a Christian was something to be endured until Jesus came back.
More recently though I have learned to dream with God. When I started doing that I found that there was a whole host of things that I wanted to do for and with Him. I wanted to preach, teach, lead, heal, I wanted to have words of knowledge, I wanted to write books. Reading the bible, I was sure that all of that was possible for me. I tried to do all of these at once and got nowhere fast. Over time I found that the thing I was doing was trying to be the same as the people I was spending time with. I recognised their gifting and wanted to be just as successful in their gifting as they were. The problem was that I wasn’t them and try as I might I was never going to be them. Looking back, I think there were probably two reasons that I wanted to be as successful in any given gifting as others. First was that I wanted to help people meet Jesus. I knew I didn’t have a gift of evangelism – but I could see how the other gifts would give opportunities to open up conversations. I also noticed that those moving in various giftings were up the front being noticed and celebrated by those that I considered “important.” I wanted a bit of that action.
If I’m being even more honest, these two were in opposite order. I longed to be noticed. “Winning people to the Lord” was secondary.
It took quite a bit of time to realise that God wasn’t really interested in how noticed I was. He didn’t really care if I was “up the front” every week, or healing people on a regular basis. All He really cared about was spending time with me. He celebrated when I was successful, and He picked me up and told me how proud He was of me for trying when I fell flat on my face. Over time I stated asking Him what He wanted me to do. When He answered, I chose to do it. Not because I wanted to be noticed, but because I wanted to please Him. I found when I did what He wanted, what others thought ceased to matter. I felt His pleasure when I did things for Him. I was happier. It sounds really “christianeeze cliché” but it really true, and it is all that matters.
In the film “Cool Runnings”, about the first Jamaican bobsleigh team, one of the team asks the coach why he cheated several years before. The coach explained that he had forgotten why he was competing – that the prize had become more important that taking part. As the conversation continues, the coach explains to his young bobsleigh hopeful that while gold medals are wonderful
“if you’re not enough without it, you’ll never be enough with it.”
It’s the same with doing things in the Kingdom. If you are doing it to please man, or to preach to the next crowd it will never be enough. You will find yourself seeking the approval of more and more important people. You will be seeking bigger and bigger crowds to satisfy your need for approval.
I would love to say that I remember that at all times. Given my nature though, I find it often has to be a choice, it doesn’t come as naturally as I wish it did.
The Christian life is meant to be dynamic. Too many (and I was one of them for years) stagnate and don’t go anywhere. I believe God has given me a vision, a direction He wants me to head. I don’t think that’s my final destination. It’s taken a while to realise that I am not ready for that calling (yet), but I am focused on that vision and am trying to be patient in journeying with Him.
The frustration that I sometimes feel when I am not there yet is easier to understand when I learn the lessons He is trying to teach me on the journey. I hope I’m learning them. At least I only have to impress One.
Who are you trying to impress?