I love being the center of attention. However, when I think my life is about me, I limit my ability to see the life God has called me to and I stop myself from having the courage to follow him on an amazing adventure.
Fear Masquerading as Self Confidence
My first year of staff was a roller coaster as I oscillated between fearing I could trust God and doubting that I was the one God called. Both were based in fear and the belief that I was the main character of my story.
When I was first hired by Greek InterVarsity at The University of Georgia, I believed I was hired because of how great I was. The belief that I was uniquely qualified forced me to trust in my own talents. I developed strategies, researched innovative ideas, and spent hours preparing to “conquer” UGA for Jesus. I rarely prayed. I relied on my own abilities afraid to ask God to move.
We think we have all the skills and we are the perfect - and perhaps the only - one to succeed. And because we believe the calling is about us, we dive into the mission using our ideas and skills. This self-centered confidence is based on fear. Fear that there is no one and nothing you can trust.
You Were Meant for More
When my self-centered confidence eroded, I could not see how God was going to use me. What did I know? What could I offer this campus? Halfway through my first year on staff, my roommate came home to find me in a puddle of tears. Sobbing on the floor, I cried, “I cannot do this. God made a mistake.”
Our fear can also cause us to doubt we are the people God called. I asked God often, “Did you get confused, did you mean to send someone else? Someone older? Someone with more experience? Maybe a man? Are you sure you meant me? Focusing on myself left little room to see God’s glory and the truth that this story was not about me.
The Israelites also experienced doubt. “The LORD said to Moses, ‘Send some men to explore the land of Canaan, which I am giving to the Israelites. From each ancestral tribe send one of its leaders.’” Moses gathered the tribes of Israel and they selected twelve men to explore the land of Canaan. After exploring for 40 days, they returned and gave this account. “We went into the land to which you sent us, and it does flow with milk and honey! Here is its fruit. But the people who live there are powerful, and the cities are fortified and very large. We even saw descendants of Anak there. The Amalekites live in the Negev; the Hittites, Jebustites and Amorites live in the hill country; and the Canaanites live near the sea and along the Jordan.” Then Caleb silenced the people before Moses and said, “We should go up and take possession of the land, for we can certainly do it.” But the men who had gone up with him said, “We can’t attack those people; they are stronger than we are.” And they spread among the Israelites a bad report about the land they had explored. They said, “The land we explored devours those living in it. All the people we saw there are of great size. We saw Nephilim there (the descendants of Anak come from the Nephilim). We seemed like grasshoppers in our eyes, and we looked the same to them.” The Israelites were willing to give up on the promise land to continue living in the wilderness because they were scarred.
God’s call on our life elicits fear. We doubt God can use us and come up with a laundry list of reasons why we aren’t the person God meant to call. We doubt ourselves, because we don’t have the courage to believe the story is about God.
The Story is About God
We are part of a bigger story. When we see God as the hero of the story our talents and short comings are irrelevant because God is the worker. He can do immeasurable things and we are called to come alongside him.Two of the spies understood their role in God’s story. “Joshua son of Nun and Caleb son of Jephunneh, who were among those who had explored the land, tore their clothes and said to the entire assembly, “The land we passed through and explored is exceedingly good. If the LORD is pleased with us, he will lead us into that land a land flowing with milk and honey, and will give it to us.” Joshua and Caleb started from the premise that this was God’s story and success was not going to come from their own talents, but because this was the land that the LORD had given them.
Joshua and Caleb could trust God, because they knew He was the hero of the story. They remembered how He had already brought them out of Egypt, which allowed them to trust God to give them the promised land.
Remembering God’s Story
Remembering God’s story taught the Israelites to trust God. Within the command to observe the Sabbath, it says, “Remember that you were slaves in Egypt and that the LORD your God brought you out of there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm. Therefore the LORD your God has commanded you to observe the Sabbath.” The call to keep the sabbath was revolutionary, because it asked the Israelites to trust the LORD that he could provide. Moses is asking the Israelites to remember how God had saved them; so that, they could trust God and choose to rest on the Sabbath.
As I was sobbing on the floor, my first year at the University of Georgia, my roommate said, “What about Trey?”
Trey, a freshmen fraternity man, responded to Greek IV’s vision with, “Yes! This is the reason I wanted to rush a fraternity. I want to be a light in my chapter.” Throughout the first semester, I met with Trey, encouraging him to bring God’s kingdom to his fraternity.
God had already done the work. When I stopped focusing on myself, I saw that this was God’s story. God was going to reach UGA’s Greek System. He was letting me play a part, but this was His story. Every time I forget the story is about God, I look back at my life.
Remembering all God has done helps me to remember my place – I am a supporting character. The story is not about you and that is a good thing. Because the main character is worth following.