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Posts Tagged ‘Self-Worth’

(Steve and I are enjoying time with family this week.  I’ll return soon with  new posts.  Meanwhile, I’ll reblog previous ones.  Hopefully you’ll find them meaningful again, or perhaps for the first time.  The following post was first published June 13, 2013.)

From stage left, she crosses the platform in confident strides.  One hand waves in sweeping arcs to the large audience. The crowd claps and cheers.

In the other hand, with confident ease, she holds the microphone.  And the smile—big and broad, bright white teeth visible even from the balcony.

Able to sing like a nightingale and articulate truth with conviction. Impacting thousands.

Now there is someone God is using in a powerful way, whispers an accusing voice.  Look at her significant contribution in the Kingdom of God. No doubt she’s highly valuable to him.  So what are you doing that’s important?  Your spot in the scheme of things is nothing compared to that shining star on the stage.  You might as well face the truth:  You are unimportant.  The ship of Significance has passed you by.

Sound the least bit familiar? You’re not alone. Demons use those same lies on a lot of us. Evil spirits aren’t very creative, are they?

But here’s the truth of the matter:

Each of us is the workmanship of God (Ephesians 2:10). The Greek word, workmanship, sometimes has the connotation of “work of art.” You are a work of art—carefully designed and meticulously executed.

The verse goes on to explain we’ve been created to do good works. It does not say the same work. Diversity of personality, talent, and interest are necessary among the children of God in order that all his plans are accomplished.

He made each of us unique, to fulfill a personalized plan. Every now and then we see such a plan unfold so clearly, we know God engineered the circumstances. Sometimes it’s a unique set of talents or gifts that work together sublimely to meet a need.

Take, for example, the naturally talented writer, who happened to grow up in a bilingual home, and studied Christian Education in college. She was especially prepared by God to write Spanish curriculum for a Christian publishing company.

Other times the plan is much less obvious, and we must trust that the task before us–caring for our families, teaching that Sunday School class, working at the homeless shelter–is indeed accomplishing divine purpose.

What we can know for certain:  each of us is valuable to God (Matthew  10:29-31).

Believe that he has prepared in advance good works for you to do (Ephesians 2:10).  Take joy and satisfaction from completing those good works.

It may not be walking across a stage with a microphone. It might mean walking across the kitchen with a rolling pin—to bake cookies for the neighbors.

That’s just a small, insignificant thing, you say?

Think about this: What if God takes particular pleasure in small things?

Personally, I’m fascinated by small things. Miniatures, doll houses, petit-point, babies!

Scripture gives us indication that God does indeed love small things as well:

Sparrows (Matthew 10:29-31).

Two little mites given by a widow (Mark 12:41-44).

Five small barley loaves and two small fish (John 6:1-13).

Bethlehem (Micah 5:2).

Let’s never again allow those little demons of abasement to put us down. God has promised: “I will bless those who fear the Lord—small and great alike” (Psalm 115:13, emphasis added).

You see, in God’s sight, we’re of equal worth.

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Does your to-do list for tomorrow include such items as:

  • Send birthday, get-well, or encouragement cards?
  • Attend a meeting or rehearsal at church?
  • Prepare for teaching a Bible study or Sunday School lesson?
  • Pick up your husband’s prescription?
  • Prepare for dinner guests?

Young woman cooking in her kitchen

Our days are often filled with small deeds. We tend to think they’re insignificant and therefore, so are we.

But that negative evaluation is not from God!

“Who despises the day of small things?” he spoke to Zechariah (4:10).

In fact, evidence indicates that God loves to take small, seemingly insignificant actions, and use them in creative, powerful ways:

  • A piece of wood thrown into bitter water turned it sweet (Exodus 15:25).
  • A cord hung from a window saved a family from destruction (Joshua 2:17-21).
  • An army of 300 defeated a powerful enemy, just by blowing trumpets and breaking clay jars to expose torchlight (Judges 7).
  • A dab of mud applied to a man’s blind eyes restored his sight (John 9).
  • Paul’s handkerchiefs and aprons became healing agents as they were laid upon the sick ((Acts 19:12).

mud

It doesn’t matter that we’re not famous, wealthy, intellectual, or strong, because it is “‘Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,'” says the Lord Almighty” (Zechariah 4:6).

Might = strength, resources, and ability.  If that describes you, wonderful!  But those blessings alone will not guarantee significance.

Power = persistence, resolve, and consistency.  Again, if you are able to power through with effort and efficiency to accomplish much, terrific!  But what’s truly important is if the effort is achieving God’s purpose.

Granted, God has given us talents and gifts, opportunities and choices.  We must be prayerful and wise in the ways we use them.

John Wesley advised:

025-All-You-Can-John-Wesley

(“Do all the good you can, by all the means you can, in all the ways you can, in all the places you can, at all the times you can, to all the people you can, as long as ever  you can.”)

Just remember:  apart from the Lord Almighty, we accomplish nothing worthwhile (John 15:5).

On the other hand, little is much–IF God is in it.

He rejoices in what is right, you see, not necessarily in what is big.

So, when you feel like a nobody who’s accomplishing nothing, be mindful of this:

Does the place you’re called to labor

Seem small and little known?

It is great if God is in it

And He’ll not forget His own.

–Kitty Suffield

(Art & photo credits:  www.whattoexpect.com; http://www.auyouth.com; http://www.kokabella.com.)

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Cashier totaling grocery purchases

 

As I approached the grocery check-out, I was surprised to see an acquaintance behind the counter.  Another pastor’s wife.

“Hi, Cheryl*,” I said, while loading produce and paper products on the conveyor belt.  “I didn’t know you worked here.”

“I just started,” she explained, swiping my purchases across the UPC reader screen.  What she said next startled me.  “Jim and I are getting a divorce.  I’ve moved out, and needed a job to help support myself.”

“Cheryl, I am so sorry.”

“Oh, no.  Don’t be.  It was my choice.  I couldn’t stand it anymore.”

If the divorce announcement had startled me, her next words were downright shocking.  Especially because they were spoken with such bitterness.

“It just became unbearable not to have an identity of my own.”  Cheryl almost spat out her words.  “I was always ‘Jim’s* wife.’  Well, no more.”

My first thought was, hasn’t she sensed the team effort of a pastorate?  Couldn’t she take joy in how God was using her husband? 

Perhaps Jim was partly to blame.  Maybe he never included her, using the pronoun “I” more frequently than “we,” never affirming how important she was to his work and well-being.

When I told my husband, Steve, about the encounter, he said, “Cheryl doesn’t realize her identity is in Jesus.”  

He was right.  She must have thought that asserting her own personhood would somehow make her more important.

Just what is our identity in Jesus?  Nestle down into the comforting words of these scriptures:

“Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over…all the earth.” (Genesis 1:26-27).

Author and theologian, Melvin Tinker, adds this insight:  “Men and women are the jewels in the crown of God’s creation.  Out of all the beings in the universe only men and women are God-like, bearing His image” (Wisdom to Live By, Christian Focus Publications, 1998, p. 112).

Did you get that?  You are a jewel, created uniquely by God, in his image.

“What is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him?  You made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor” (Psalm 8:4-5).

Each of us is highly valuable to God–crowned with glory and honor.  No position makes a person more important in God’s view; no gift makes someone superior.

“Those who are led by the Spirit of God are the sons [and daughters] of God” (Romans 8:14).  

Think of it.  If you know Jesus, you are a child of the almighty King of the universe!  You are royalty in God’s kingdom!

“Now if we are children, then we are heirs–heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory” (Romans 8:17).

And what have we inherited?  Countless blessings here on earth, and eternal bliss in heaven yet to come.  That doesn’t mean faith in Jesus results in a utopian existence.  This world is tainted by sin; we suffer the consequences.  But one day we’ll share in Christ’s glory and the hardships endured here will seem inconsequential.

“You have been given fullness in Christ, who is the head over every power and authority” (Colossians 2:10).

If we’re feeling incomplete or empty, only Jesus can fill that void with peace and contentment. HE is everything we need:  our Savior, Care-Giver, Guide, Source of peace, blessing, and contentment.

So!  At the first symptom of an identity crisis, let’s access that “fullness in Christ” through gratitude and praise.  We can thank God for creating each of us unique and special.  We can praise him for our gifts and talents that bless others and fulfill us.  We can revel in the privilege of living for the praise of his glory (Ephesians 1:12)!

And we can embrace this truth:

“Your real, new self…will not come as long as you are looking for it.  It will come when you are looking for Him” (C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity).

 

(photo credit:  www.biokineticspt.com.)

 

*Names have been changed.

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