“But we will not boast beyond limits, but will boast only with regard to the area of influence God assigned to us, to reach even to you.” (2 Corinthians 10:13, ESV)
Every one of us has a role and a reach in the work of God’s Kingdom. He entrusts us an area of influence and gifts us in such a way as to enable us to steward that trust. Our conviction in the sovereignty of God includes our affirmation of John the Baptist’s words, “A person cannot receive even one thing unless it is given him from heaven” (John 3:27). We glorify God by striving to be only what he makes us to be, and to accomplish only what he enables us to accomplish. The mark of maturity in ministry is knowing your role and through obedience to the Spirit’s leading, discovering your God-determined reach.
We glorify God by striving to be only what he makes us to be, and to accomplish only what he enables us to accomplish.
The danger for all of us is twofold. First, we could seek to reach beyond those assigned limits out of pride. In an achievement culture, we can succumb to the idolatrous passions of selfish ambition and pursue great things for ourselves, things to which God has not assigned us and for which God has not equipped us. The second temptation we face is to under-reach out of sloth and fear. God has called many of us to more than what we are currently undertaking. He has equipped us to accomplish an assigned task; yet fear, insecurity or even despondency can keep us from giving ourselves fully and faithfully to the labor and toil required to accomplish that task.
Let’s not measure our worth by our work or give into the comparison-induced anxiety so prevalent in the culture.
The answer to both of these temptations is contented exertion. We want to exert ourselves fully, mobilizing our attention, passion, creativity, and gifting to the role and reach he has assigned us. We want to toil and labor according the strength that God provides, boasting in the Lord to whom we owe our vision, vitality, and every victory. Also, we want to do that with a great contentment in God’s love and acceptance, not measuring our worth by our work or giving into comparison-induced anxiety so prevalent in the culture. This brings us freedom from our self-loathing impulses to disdain ourselves for who we are not. This contentment in God also enables us to die to the need to be extraordinary and to joyfully serve in whatever domain God sees fit to assign us. Only then we will be able to rejoice in the ways in which God is delighted to use us, and at the same time rejoice in the more far-reaching ways God is using others.
I’m looking forward to unpacking these things a little further together at the Acts 29 US Southeast Network Conference (Advance the Church) and I’m praying that God will use it in our lives to give us rest and resolve.