Recently I listened to a Village Church podcast and I was really challenged by a particular thing he said. I was listening to the message from 4/30/2011 on my morning walk and I had to just stop the whole thing and think on this one particular thing that God showed me about myself was I was listening. Here's a little bit about what God showed me:
I am so caught up in "growing" - that is gaining skills I don't have, becoming something I'm not. There's a place for that, really.
But there's also a place for contentment, and for acknowledging that I am made with a purpose. And when the pursuit of "personal growth" becomes the enemy of contentment and the realization that God has made me specifically with His purposes in mind, there is a problem.
I'm not saying we shouldn't pursue growth, or even that God isn't interested in refining our character and giving us qualities that we don't have through His grace and through His work in our lives. He definitely is.
What I'm saying is that it is really easy for me to see qualities or attributes of the lives of others that I desire - or more accurately that I envy - and make the pursuit of those things in my life higher than my pursuit of God. A.k.a., "idolatry."
I'm saying that while we so often look at our in adequacies and say to ourselves, "if only I was more cunning, or more attractive, or better with money, or better with people, etc....then God could use me to do more amazing things."
What we fail to realize and acknowledge are two very important truths:
God has made you and me just as he intended for His own purposes. That's not to say His purposes do not include our growth. But it is to say that when we fail to realize there is a purpose for the way we are, we can miss out on His purposes.
Perhaps He specifically intended you to lack qualities you lack - not so that you would suffer or be less happy in life - but so that He could get glory from you despite your weaknesses.
God doesn't need people who are awesome. He doesn't get more glory from people who are beautiful, awesome, successful, etc. when they use those things for Him than He does form people who are unattractive, unimpressive and unsuccessful when they need and rely on Him.
You know why? Because anytime a person's qualities can be removed from the picture, the picture more clearly shows who truly deserves the credit: God.
This is one that I really struggle with, and was really rebuked over just the other day. I become so caught up in pursuing excellence in many areas of life, that it becomes and idol, and also an enemy of contentment.
I was challenged to really look at myself not for what I think I should be, but for who God has made me according to His purposes, and who I am in Christ.
NOTE: I am fully aware that many people may not get this same point the way I needed to see it. I'm one of those people who are wired just to incessantly pursue things that I desire, or goals that are set in front of me. God needed to show me this so I would slow down in my own pursuit of those things, and allow Him to be magnified in my heart by seeing His purpose in how things are.
I realize that you may not be wired like me, and your struggle may not be needing to slow down your own pursuits to see God magnified. If you're wired the opposite of me, you may need to see God magnified by stepping out in faith to see God work through you where you may have doubted that God could ever use you as you are.
Either way, it's truly an issue of faith, and through action, or contentment, seeing God magnified through His power working in us.