Recently I had the opportunity to speak to three groups of women about the importance of the Gospel. It was a privilege and a great opportunity, and as such I was eager for it to go well. I had prepared diligently for the message, and was looking forward to it. However, regardless of how much I prepare for these types of events, the reality of what I am doing always seems to strike me the morning that I will first present. The magnitude of the responsibility for teaching God’s Word is hard to escape.
So as I got ready to leave the house that morning I was praying for God to bless my time of teaching. I prayed that I would speak clearly and that I would be an effective communicator of His Truth. I wanted things to go well but even as I prayed I realized that my heart’s cry was off the mark. I wanted it to go well because I wanted it to be an effective time of learning and because I wanted to make sure I didn’t do anything to distract from what God was going to do in the lives of the women who were listening. However, I also wanted it to go well because I didn’t want to look like a fool. I wanted to present myself well because I wanted the people who were listening to think well of me.
As this recognition hit me, I realized that in order for God to be most glorified something may need to happen that would be outside of my carefully crafted plans. Perhaps I would fall on my face as I walked to the stage. Perhaps I would stutter and forget my place. Perhaps I would not do as good of job as the time and effort that I had dedicated would indicate. Any of these things could have happened – and God may have required them in order to accomplish something that was distinct from my plans but signifiant in His. I wasn’t sure how God could use any of these things but I knew that He could. And if He desired to do so, than I needed to be willing for that to happen.
This didn’t stop me from praying that the teaching time went well, but it certainly changed my definition of what that meant. Instead of being about whether I did a good job, it was about whether God accomplished what He wanted through it. It meant that whatever He wanted to have happen, I wanted that too. Even if it meant that there was a personal cost. Even if it meant sacrificing my carefully crafted expectations. I know that what He desired was far greater than what I did and first and foremost I wanted to serve Him.
It can be difficult to come to this place of surrender. Even though part of my teaching was on Galatians 1:10 where Paul discusses the importance of serving Christ and not man, it wasn’t until the morning I was to go on stage that I fully appreciated that in order for God’s purposes to be fulfilled, I may not come across looking as polished as I desired to be. We often state our willingness to make grand sacrifices for the sake of Christ, but fail to realize that more often we are called to the daily sacrifices of our reputation, our comfort and our convenience in order to serve His purposes rather than our own. May we be increasingly be willing to make these sacrifices, knowing that what He has designed is greater than what we could. May we, like John the Baptist say “He must increase, but I must decrease”(Jn. 3:30) as we desire whatever He wills.