It was a quick comment, but it changed the way I saw myself.
I was in a meeting and someone told me, “You’re great at starting things, but then you lose interest when it’s time to maintain them.”
This was a couple years after I had joined the staff at Life.Church. Throughout that time, I had been given some big projects to figure out. I started our IT and Tech teams and helped establish several of our earliest campuses.
This was a natural progression from the work I’d been doing previously in launching startups. My job was to get us from 0 to 60 as quickly as possible. Usually after about 16-18 months, things were up and running and I was ready to move on.
I hadn’t given that tendency much thought before—it was just what I did. My strengths leaned toward starting new things, not managing their ongoing operation.
But after that comment, I began to question myself.
I wanted to be a leader who could see things through. I wanted to be known as someone who could stick with it, so I started operating outside my strengths. I found myself fumbling around in day-to-day operations to prove I could do more than just start things. And I really wasn’t good at it.
I wanted people to see me differently than how God made me. I’m not unique in this struggle. Throughout the years I’ve seen it happen frequently in teams I lead. Lately, I’ve realized this is a subtle yet effective way Satan tries to attack people who are doing great things for God. (Learn more about the ways Satan attacks us in our recent message series, When the Devil Knocks.)
Our enemy can convince us to despise our gifts.
The easiest way to stop someone from making their greatest contribution to the Kingdom is to convince them to shift their efforts to an area where they aren’t as effective. To go from great to good. It’s a sinister and covert way we’re tempted to bury our gifts.
We care way too much about how people see us. After a while, the novelty of being known as the go-to person in one area of expertise wears off.
We see ourselves as one-dimensional and believe the lie that we’re insignificant.
I see this tendency most often in people who serve behind the scenes. They might be exceptionally gifted in their role, operating in the top tier of their field. But then they begin to compare themselves to people on the “front lines” of ministry. They become envious of the gifts that seem more closely involved in changed lives and start to despise their own gifts. So they step out of their sweet spot to take on a new role in an area where they might continually struggle, drastically reducing the eternal impact they are able to make. Score 1 for Satan.
I need to offer several disclaimers here. Of course we should all try to grow and develop. Of course we should try new things now and then. And, yes, sometimes God will call a financial analyst to become a ministry leader. What it really comes down to is our motivation. Being called to something by God is different than trying to prove ourselves to people.
Being called to something by God is different than trying to prove ourselves to people.
God has created each of us as a one-of-a-kind masterpiece to fulfill a unique purpose. We can’t succumb to the temptation that we need to show the world we’re more than who God created us to be. He has given us our strengths, skills, and experiences so that they can fulfill His purpose.
That’s what I had to figure out so many years ago when I was trying to prove I was someone I wasn’t. Through some great development tools like StrengthsFinder, I took inventory of who I really was. I realized that God had me on a specific journey, and I wanted to use those experiences and my gifts for His purpose. I stopped trying to be who I wasn’t and looked to find people on our team who would be a better fit for the projects I shouldn’t have continued leading.
In looking back on the timing of this season, it was right before we launched our first major digital efforts like Church Online, Open Network, and YouVersion. If I had continued to chase the gifts God didn’t give me, I don’t know if I would have had the opportunity to be part of bringing those things to life.
As we center ourselves squarely in the gifts and strengths God has given us, our greatest contribution to God’s Kingdom also becomes the path to our greatest level of contentment.
Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Galatians 6:9
- Do you find yourself envying someone else’s gifts, strengths, and experiences?
- How can you free yourself from the comparison trap and re-invigorate your passion for making the most of the journey God has you on?
- Does your team need to be re-connected with how they are contributing to the mission? How can you help them see the eternal results of the work they do?
- Do any roles or tasks need to be redistributed to make better use of the gifts God’s placed in your team?
FOMO is real, so don’t take chances.
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