The words cut like a cleaver through a fresh piece of meat and I felt exposed and ridiculed.
Hurt was quickly followed by anger and resentment, and I wanted to defend myself. I longed to make others see what I did, to notice the hours of work and commitment I put into this position.
Although the insult was directed at a ministry I volunteered for, it may as well have been aimed at me personally. As I pondered what was said, I stood on my soapbox and pointed out the injustice of it all.
The more I spend time volunteering in the ministry field, the more I see the opinions voiced are often anything but fair.
My skin isn’t thick, and criticism which is not helpful or edifying makes me quick to take up a defense, to take it personally, and to wallow in pity. But the more I sank into this pit of ill feelings, the more I sensed the Holy Spirit speak to my heart.
Who are you trying to impress? Are you doing all of this for me or for an audience of peers?
If the whisper wasn’t enough, it was confirmed when I pulled up the webpage for my daily devotion, and the title read, “Whom Do You Seek?”
Yes, God. I get it. Loud and clear, you are speaking to my heart.
The truth is, my prayers for this ministry had worn a little thin. My mind had gotten distracted. Comparison can be my worst enemy, and when I hear someone say another church is doing something better or more current, it is easy to fall into the trap of defeat instead of continuing to press toward the goal.
And the goal is Christ, friends.
The fruit of the Spirit cannot bloom in a bitter, self-righteous heart.
When my mind is more focused on pleasing people than God, my ministry suffers. If my ultimate purpose isn’t glorifying Him, nothing I do will make a lasting difference.
Any impact I do make is because of Him, and Him alone.
Paul really drives it home in 1 Corinthians, when he says,
So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow…For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, God’s building. 1 Corinthians 3:7,9 NIV
When my eyes stay focused on Him, everything else falls into place because I see my deep need. He is the ultimate grower, not me. And while complaints and insults may come, I can have peace because I know my goal is Christ.
Humility is the ultimate fertilizer for the Holy Spirit to bloom.
We are simply planters and co-laborers. Our job is to plant, to provide a place for our community to feel loved, and to reflect his compassion in our words, actions, and attitude. So often though, we want credit.
We want recognition for our efforts and our hard work. We long for a pat on the back for a job well done.
Such desires are human, but when we allow them to overtake us and be a priority, our ministries lose their focus and the focal point becomes skewed.
If you are suffering from feelings of defeat today, can I come alongside of you and pray for you?
God sees your work. He sees the effort and the time you put into making his name known.
Keep your eyes focused on Him and not on the comparison or negativity around you. And I can promise when you do, He will give you peace which transcends anything you can fathom.
*Linking up with Suzie Eller’s #LiveFreeThursday. Come join us and be inspired.