This was definitely a lesson-learning week, I have to tell you, and not just from classes or textbook. See, one continual area of struggle for me involves acceptance/affirmation from others and usefulness. More simply said, I struggle with pride. I know you probably think, well so does everyone, lets move on… but my area of pride is one that is debilitating to my faith and keeps me locked in self-defeat. It is one I have worked on for my entire life, and once again I found it rearing it’s ugly head.
Too often, I base my value to God’s kingdom on my level of service. Who am I teaching, who have I counseled or mentored this week, what have I done in the name of Jesus the past few days. If I haven’t been able to identify and count something towards my righteousness, I automatically don’t feel as “Christian” as I should. I worry that Jesus won’t think I am living my life for Him, or worse (let’s just be honest) others won’t see me living my life for Him. I find myself placing a ton of value on whether or not people know my name in conjunction to service… am I known to be a bible study leader, am I known to be serving in church, do people hear my name and think, “oh yeah, Carissa, isn’t she such a Godly woman!” All the while, I am so caught up in serving, or being seen serving, that I begin to find my sense of self in that rather than in Christ.
That is exactly what happened this week. I am a part of a new small group study being launched at church that involves in-depth study with a group of about 5 women. This is my heart of hearts… in-depth mentoring into the lives of a few at a time…quality instead of quantity. I signed up to be a leader, and I looked on my class roster to see how many had signed up yet. ZERO. A big, fat none. Immediately I fell into the familiar self-doubt inner dialogue. “They don’t think you can do it. If you’re not serving or teaching anywhere, what use are you? What is your kingdom purpose?” To be completely honest, I cried a little. I was trapped in a downward spiral of PRIDE. It was all about me, me, me. What did they think of me? Why don’t they want me? Why isn’t it working out for me? This funk I was in went on for a few days, until I sat down to my quiet time on Wednesday. I opened my devo and found the scripture for the day, Luke 10:20. I went to the Bible to look further into the scripture. Here is what I found…
“Look, I have given you authority to tread on snakes and scorpions and on the full force of the enemy, and nothing will hurt you. Nevertheless, do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names stand written in Heaven.” (Luke 10:19-20)
The devotional, My Utmost for His Highest, went on to say something profound: “Don’t rejoice in successful service, but rejoice because you are rightly related to Me. The snare in Christian work is to rejoice in successful service, to rejoice in the fact that God has used you. Keep your relationship right with Him, then whatever circumstances you are in, and whoever you meet day by day, He is pouring rivers of living water through you, and it is of His mercy that He does not let you know it. The tendency today is to put the emphasis on service. Beware of the people who make usefulness their ground of appeal. If you make usefulness the test, then Jesus Christ was the greatest failure that ever lived.”
Snap. I pretty much got smacked up side the head by the word of God this week. I was placing emphasis on my usefulness, rather than the amazing fact that I get to have a relationship with Jesus. I was focused on counting my areas of service and notoriety, rather than rejoicing in God’s ability to use me whether I knew it or not. I was more interested in whether I was seen or known than if God was seen or known. It was a pride battle. And I know it will be daily. But once again, I go back to that steadfast fact that I know to be true in my life… Jesus knows me and He loves me, pride and all. I am being sanctified, and praise Jesus He is the master of sanctification. He will continue to refine me because of His grace, as long as I respond to the conviction and prompting of the Holy Spirit. That is what is meant by living water flowing out of me. If I keep my eyes on Jesus, place more value on Him than myself, and continually seek His filling… eventually His spirit will overflow from my life into the lives of others and I won’t even realize it… no work, no effort, just showing up. This is what I long for! Please pray for me in this area of pride. Like Lecrae says in praise to our Sovereign God in his song, Background, “I can play the background, cause I know sometimes I get in the way…. So won’t YOU take lead?”