I don’t know about you, but I am a pretty self-confident person in most things that I do. I am an accomplished cook; I have successfully raised two wonderful, Christian boys; after 34 years, I am still happily married; I have been a registered, practicing Speech-Language Pathologist for 29 years and feel like I know what I’m doing; I have successfully taught classes and run small groups; I know what I’m doing with laundry, house cleaning, etc; I have published a book…The list could go on; but as I think about these accomplishments, I realize that I have become very reliant on myself.
Of course, there was a time in my life when I wasn’t confident at all. When I was young, I was extremely shy and insecure, and I didn’t feel I could do anything well. Therefore, when I began to see some of my strengths and began to understand that I was, indeed, talented in many ways, I became more secure in myself and my own abilities. I suppose it would be accurate to say that my self-reliance has been cultivated and groomed, and the product of this is that I feel much more secure in many, many areas of my life. As a result, when I was asked to lead out in a new small group in our church, I felt completely equipped and secure in my own ability to do so.
This feeling of self-sufficiency carried me through the planning, organizing, advertising…In fact, it carried me right up to three days before the group was to start. That’s when I finally began to listen to God’s voice, and what I heard burst my bubble: Unless I admitted my weakness and let God be my strength, I could not do this. It was destined to be a failure.
I was humbled, to say the least, and my next prayer was for God to show me what there was in my life that would keep me from being successful in leading this small group.
Bad question. Or good, depending on your point of view…. God began revealing to me in rapid-fire succession many, many things that would stop the group from being a success. Ouch! I truly wanted this group to bring glory to God, and I immediately set about humbling myself, repenting and asking God to continue to cleanse and heal my heart.
There was one huge issue that God revealed to me, one that would be the biggest adherent to my ability to successfully lead this group: self-reliance!
Wow. All those years of cultivating this sense of self-worth and reliance, and now God wanted me to just hand it all over? He wanted me to admit I wasn’t capable? That I didn’t have the required skills?
As I was contemplating this, God led me to read just one line in John 5:19: “Then Jesus answered and said to them, ‘Most assuredly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do…'” (NKJV)
Wait a minute! Jesus is saying here that He, Himself can do nothing, that He can only do what God is doing! That hit me like a ton of bricks. If Jesus Himself could do nothing on His own, how was I to think that I had any ability on my own to lead this group–or to do anything–in life?
I resolved right then that I would stop relying on myself, even for the areas of my life where I was an accomplished person. I realized that no matter how good my skills are, they would be enhanced if I let God work through me, and I resolved to go about that day–and everyday–with this prayer on my lips: “Father God, I cannot do this to its maximum potential on my own. I am too weak. May Your strength be perfected in my weakness!”
It was amazing how beautifully the rest of that day went. Devotionals flowed from my fingers, meals were fabulous, the laundry was done in record fashion, arguments were stopped before they started, and I had time to do chores that should have been done weeks ago. What a beautiful day!
And just imagine how beautiful it would be to carry on this attitude throughout every area of my life. Imagine how much more powerful my interactions with my patients would be, how much more effectively I would be able to assist and grow my current student intern, and of course, how much more of a blessing the small group would be to that handful of members.
Friends, the secret of success in everything we do is not rooted in our knowledge or training or experience, and certainly not in our self-confident, self-reliant attitudes. The secret to success lies in that small verse from John 5: We are to watch where God is working and join Him there. We need to acknowledge our own weakness and allow His strength to be perfected in us, for when we do, everything we touch will bless to its maximum potential. But when we don’t, we are destined to do a mediocre job at best, and more than likely, we will fail.
Secrets to success? 1) Submission to the Father’s will; 2) Humility; and 3) Total reliance on Him…Just like Jesus, our ultimate example!
“Then Jesus answered and said to them, ‘Most assuredly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do; for whatever He does, the Son also does in like manner.” (John 5:19-20 NKJV)
Oh, and my first small group meeting went beautifully. Not because of me, but because I humbled myself before God, admitted my weakness, and allowed His strength to be perfected through me.
In His love,
Lynona Gordon Chaffart, Speech-Language Pathologist, mother of two, Author — “Aboard God’s Train — A Journey With God Through the Valley of Cancer”, Author and Moderator for The Nugget, a tri-weekly internet newsletter, and Scriptural Nuggets, a website devoted to Christian devotionals and inspirational poems, with Answers2Prayer Ministries. Follow Lyn on Twitter @lynchaffart.