I have to admit, I was feeling kind of sorry for myself. After countless hours of preparing to teach the Adult Vacation Bible School class at church, there sat in front of me two people. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not as if those two didn’t matter. Instead I wondered what in the world could I offer them? One is one of the most godly men I know in my church, a gifted teacher, one under whose teaching I had much more need of sitting. The other was a mom, a woman of great faith from another church who brought her children to our VBS. Again, what good could I possibly do her?
Selfish thoughts started entering my mind like, “You spent all this time preparing, for what?” As a mother of young children, any quiet time to study is a precious commodity, and I estimate I spent about 15 naptimes studying for this class. I know, I know. What a horrible attitude to have, but I’m trying to be transparent here.
Other thoughts of self-pity weren’t far off. “What is wrong with me that no one wants to come to my class?” It’s not that I feel I’m this great teacher or anything. Listening to the likes of Priscilla Shirer, Beth Moore, Vicki Courtney, Lysa TerKeurst, (and on and on) reminds me quickly of that. It’s instead that teaching is my passion. It’s my spiritual gift. It’s the one thing (along with writing) that I feel like I can “offer” to God. I don’t do children’s ministry. I’m not a natural servant. I’m not a great encourager. I have a long way to go in the listening category. I’m awkward socially. But teaching – and teaching Scripture specifically – that’s what fuels me. But if few are interested in coming to a class where I exercise my passion, what else do I have to offer?
Realizing that there were so many things wrong with my attitude, I started praying for perspective. I repented of my selfish and self-pitying attitudes. With a clean slate, God brought to mind – don’t laugh – a song by my favorite artist, TobyMac.
If You wanna steal my show, I’ll sit back and watch You go
If You got somethin’ to say, go on and take it away
Need You to steal my show, can’t wait to watch You go
So take it away
I was reminded, at that moment, that my teaching isn’t MY “show” to begin with. It’s not even my performance that I’m offering to God as my act of service. It’s HIS show, from beginning to end.
I had begun to slip into this thinking that by serving Him in my area of giftedness, it was all up to me. Only now am I realizing the great pressure that was! If [name of person here] doesn’t attend, I’ve failed. If [name of person here] comes once or twice and doesn’t come back, I’ve failed. If I don’t personally work to fill my classroom, I’ve failed.
Do you see a pattern here. It’s that one-letter word. I.
God gently reminded me that it’s not about me. It’s not about me! It’s HIS show. And if he decides to ask me to play a part, I am to obey, and be blessed, but I am not to run the show.
See, God wants to do far more than I could ever ask for or imagine. So even my best-run show would be like comparing my son’s kindergarten musical to Broadway.
When I started to really “get” this – at my core – what a burden was lifted! I began to focus on begging God to show up so I could “watch him go.” I began to focus on what he asked me to do and no more.
And you know what happened? God brought people to my class the last couple of nights that I didn’t know, that I would have had no other way to invite. He reminded me that He’s working in ways I can’t see, in people I have yet to meet. He divinely ordered those people in my class for reasons I may never know. But the point is that it wasn’t from my own effort.
Another thing happened. I felt like my teaching came from a place beyond myself in those nights. Again, not earth-shattering, but not “of myself.” Thoughts came to mind that I hadn’t studied or thought of beforehand. It wasn’t about how adequately I studied or how eloquently I spoke or how well-timed my discussion questions were. It was a desperately-needed reminder that even my passion – my gift – is not about me. And by itself it accomplishes nothing. It must be empowered by the Holy Spirit to produce any fruit whatsoever.
And a good dose of humility was what I needed.
It’s also freeing.
And being freed from a burden I was never meant to carry was what I needed.
My responsibility was to show up and play my part. It’s HIS show to run, after all. It always has been.