I’ve been arguing with myself a lot lately.
Play By Play
You so enjoy the ministry stuff you do. Counseling and teaching and online- it’s so fulfilling. Just think what could be done with better PR and another degree! Greater opportunities for the message you love to share.
Then Me-Two interrupts Me- usually long before that’s all out- and lunges.
If God wanted that for you, someone down here would have made it perfectly clear. When was the last time a Leadership Development Head tapped you on the shoulder? And when was the last time you got asked to speak? Leave well enough alone.
But I don’t. Not yet anyway.
I’ll go for it- God can always close the door, says Me.
Don’t get too big for your britches, thrusts Me-Two.
But good desires can be from God, gingerly sidesteps Me.
Mid-life crisis, jabs Me-Two.
Nah- This degree has been on my mind since I was 23, parries Me.
But God’s using you without those extra letters behind your name, says Me-Two.
Yes, but God ordains means- including training and degrees, strikes Me.
Me-Two lunges, now, sharp and true, Be content with what you have.
I am grateful, says Me, disengaging sheepishly.
That’s about it, how the match plays out.
Get Out Of God’s Way
Enter Pastor Crawford Loritts and his right-on-point, 90-second broadcast, I just so happened to catch.
Loritts has spoken a ton and led a whole lot. But he says he’s never asked for a speaking engagement or sought a leadership position. “While that sort of self-promotion may be appropriate for others,” Loritts said, “it’s not for me. God won’t let me do that. Maybe to keep my pride in check.”
He cited Galatians 1:22-24 to show how God prepared the way for Paul, without Paul doing a bit of his own PR. And I was still unknown in person to the churches of Judea that are in Christ. They kept hearing it said, “He who used to persecute us is now preaching the faith he once tried to destroy.” And they glorified God because of me.
“They kept hearing.” The Judea Christians were hearing good words about Paul- praise of Paul- without a bit of self-promotion from Paul. God went before Paul. He prepared the way for his messenger Paul. God set the stage and Paul obeyed the call and climbed on.
Then Loritts shared this principle: When God wants the Word to be spread, He’ll get it done. PR can be a tool in God’s hands, but we need to get out of the way and make sure what we do honors and glorifies Him.
Me-Two was right. But it wasn’t the end.
Put in a Good Word
Because the very next day, I tuned inagain.
This time, in a message called, “Help Others Be Used By God,” Pastor Loritts explained how God raised up leaders who put in good words for him. Loritts credits his ministry opportunities to the goodness of those who came along and said, I like Crawford. Give him a chance.
Pastor Loritts described a time when this happened for Paul. And when James, Cephas, and John who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that was given unto me, they gave to me and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship that we should go to the heathen and they to those of the circumcision.
The right hand of fellowship, explains Loritts, was an endorsement. It was leaders saying, We stand shoulder to shoulder with you. We’re gonna speak up for you and what you’re all about. Then with God’s big grace, and the leaders’ good words, Paul began a ministry that shaped the history of the world.
God uses encouragers to propel us and open doors. Their handshakes and ‘Atta boy’s” and “You go girl’s” push us on. God has marked every one of His children for usefulness, Loritts said. So let’s help them to be used.
We all stand on the shoulders of others. Who of us can’t name a teacher (Mr. Baughn, English Lit), coach (Koceja, Track and Field), co-worker or friend (Traci, “Maybe start a blog.”) who encouraged a gifting or put in a good word? Their praise then pushed us to enter that race or hone that skill or take that class.
So don’t save your praise. When the opportunities we await don’t come knocking, we can still use what influence we do have to put in a good word where we can.
Let’s help them be used.
Do Unto Others: Encourage
Me and Me-Two still fight sometimes, about knocking on doors and doing more.
I could wish I had leaders opening doors for me the way Crawford Loritts had for him. I could.
But I will do what I tell my boys to do, when they wish they’d been treated differently: Do to others as you would have them do to you. And this one’s not holy writ, but Be the change you want to see, also fits.
The old-time pastor Matthew Henry had it right, There may be a just occasion for us to vindicate ourselves, but it does not become us to applaud ourselves. Proprio laus sordet in ore—Self-praise defiles the mouth. Or, Praise in one’s own mouth stinks.
Self-promotion might get IN God’s way. But using your mouth to encourage others IS God’s way.
Let another praise you, and not your own mouth; a stranger, and not your own lips.