As summer is winding down I have been reflecting on what a wonderful summer it was. While it had its ups and downs, I learned many lessons and I learned a lot about myself. Through doing a new bible study called, Gideon by Pricilla Shirer, my aunt passing away, traveling with students across Europe, and attending North American Youth Congress (NAYC), one theme that has kept reoccurring throughout my summer was greatness and how God wants me to define my greatness. This has been one of the hardest lessons that I am still learning. It is more about a complete change in mindset than just a passing thought for the summer. So bear with me as I try to explain what has been churning in my head for the past few months!
Greatness is defined by the world in many ways and is different for each person. In my life I have been defining greatness as what I can gain to sustain a more secure future like a good paying job, nice car, beautiful home, full wardrobe, and even a "comfortable" ministry to be involved in at church. I am now in the process of changing my mindset. Throughout the summer, I began to realize that I was defining greatness much differently than God wanted me to define it. You see, God does not care about the physical things we own or build for ourselves as much as He cares about what we are doing and building for His Kingdom. I do believe God gives us financial blessings and nice things and we should be good stewards with what He has blessed us with. However, having a mindset that is always seeking for more physical things to make for a better future, is neglecting to be grateful or a good steward with what we have already. I truly believe if we change our mindset to start focusing on what God has for us and seeking His Kingdom first (Matthew 6:33), He will give us the ability to be satisfied with what He has provided for us. I believe we will also find peace in this new mindset because we are no longer feeling the pressure to live like the world thinks we should in order to achieve greatness!
At NAYC Victor Jackson preached a message called A Call to Greatness. In this message he said, "man measures greatness by what He builds. God measures greatness by what you put on the altar and what you sacrifice." He went on to say that, "greatness is not what you gain, but what you leave behind." We have to be willing to live a life of sacrifice and dedication to God and stop thinking of our lives in terms of what we are gaining but what we can do to leave behind His grace.
To see my greatness like God sees it, I have to get away from trying to measure myself up to the world's standards and seek God first! I think God in this moment of my life wants me to stop having the consumer/gain mindset and be grateful and a good steward with what He has given me. I also believe that I need to start seeing greatness as reaching the lost and loving others in the environment He has place me in as a teacher, youth worker, wife, daughter, and friend. This is how I need to define greatness.
Since this is not how the world defines greatness, my human nature in me worries that everyone will see me as weak and unsuccessful. I also have to fight the thoughts in my head that tell me I am weak and unsuccessful because I am not achieving greatness like so and so in the world. This is where I think I have learned a lot from Gideon in the book of Judges. He also felt this way as God was telling him to tear down his family's idol and lead a small group of men to defeat the Midianites. I know he was afraid about what other's would think and he most definitely did not think he would be successful! He even asked God for multiple signs to make sure he was really supposed to complete the task he was assigned! The beauty of this story is, that while Gideon saw himself as weak because he was measuring himself up to the world and what others would think, God saw Gideon as strong. Gideon did trust God in the end, and was victorious! 2 Corinthians 12:9-10 says, "'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong." I may feel weak at times and fear that others will think I am weak, but I am also strong in God's standards because His power is made PERFECT in my weakness!
The world even tries to define greatness for Christians as going to church on Sunday, hearing a "feel good message", and then going home to keep on living a consumer lifestyle. I call this Christian lifestyle, comfortable Christian. I DO NOT WANT TO BE A COMFORTABLE CHRISTIAN! I want more! I want God to use me in ways that I can only begin to understand and to be concerned with what example of God I am leaving behind! I also want a change in mindset where I do not go to church seeking to be filled all the time but going to church to see how I can fill others. If we turn the focus off of ourselves and on to others, God will continue to pour into us. This is where true Joy lies!
I am still working on this journey towards a different mindset. I find myself longing daily to go buy more things that I already know I don't need. Many days I would also rather keep to myself and my own concerns. However, I feel this longing to reach out to others, to enjoy the blessings I already have, and be a good steward of what God has given me instead of seeking more. This feels so uncomfortable from my previous way of thinking but, like Bro. Jackson said, I have to be willing to live a life of sacrifice. That even means to sacrifice my old way of thinking so I can be devoted to God like I so desire to be. I still have a long road ahead but I truly think I can change one thought at a time and one day at a time.