Almost two weeks ago I attended a coaches training for the Clifton StrengthsFinder® in Hickory, NC with several others pastors, church-planters and community leaders from around Greensboro. During one of the training sessions we were all asked to list a couple of “recent successes” we’d had in life, ministry, etc. First of all, I love this question because it obviously focuses our minds and hearts toward some positive areas in our lives that perhaps we commonly overlook. Success here doesn’t necessarily have to be related to a huge event that took place, nor anything which may have been ‘noticeable’ to others. It’s a great question and one that I wish I’d ask more.
Our habit here more often than not seems to be a tendency to move on from our successes a bit too quickly, not taking time to properly notice them and celebrate them. Is this because we feel like we’ve got so many other areas of failure in our lives that we need to quickly move on with the momentum of our success in order to fix them? Or, is it that we feel too prideful about celebrating any success in our lives or too afraid that our success will only be short lived until our next encounter with failure – so why bother, right? My friend Justin and I were talking just last week about how poorly we’ve been celebrating in our own church-community and how we just need to have a party – just because…
So back to the coaches training…I began to list a few things right off the top of my head that I felt to be recent successes in my own life, beginning with my family (my beautiful wife, Molly, and our success so far in raising our daughter, Julia)…being a part of a youth-event in Wilson, NC recently where we saw over 40 kids surrender their lives to Jesus Christ…our growth in the area of financial stewardship and the ability to live more debt-free…
As the time came for me to share with about 20 others in the room, something else came to mind, something that didn’t hit me until right there in that moment. Including the successes above, I realize that I no longer see what I’m doing as a church-planter and a pastor as a failure compared to what others are doing. In fact, over the past few months I’ve grown to appreciate more about what others are doing rather than feeling like I have to measure up or set myself up against anything that’s different from what God has called us to be and do at Awaken.
I can’t tell you in words how much of a success this is for me, how much growth has taken place in my life just to get to this point. I’m still trying to figure out how to properly celebrate this, but one thing I’m doing in the meantime is experiencing an enjoyment that I haven’t had in several years.
Recently, I’ve been reading through Galatians and how the writer, Paul, is distinguishing between a life of human-attempt and a life of living in God’s promise (see chapters 3-4). I’ve been reminded just how futile striving for success through my own efforts truly is and how what I do celebrate and find complete satisfaction in is nothing short of what only God has accomplished through me.
Where is that joyful and grateful spirit you felt…? _Galatians 4:15 NLT
1When the Lord brought back his exiles to Jerusalem, it was like a dream! 2 We were filled with laughter, and we sang for joy. And the other nations said, “What amazing things the Lord has done for them.” 3 Yes, the Lord has done amazing things for us! What joy! 4 Restore our fortunes, Lord, as streams renew the desert. 5 Those who plant in tears will harvest with shouts of joy. 6 They weep as they go to plant their seed, but they sing as they return with the harvest. _Psalms 126:1-6 NLT