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At peace with my limitations

Growing up, I was insecure. No quantity of compliments could counterbalance the personal deficiencies I felt. I was small for my age, had acne, didn’t make the best grades in the classroom, and felt socially awkward. Boy how things have changed! Now not only am I short, I’m balding, my eyes are …
By Seth Barnes

Growing up, I was insecure. No quantity of compliments could counterbalance the personal deficiencies I felt. I was small for my age, had acne, didn’t make the best grades in the classroom, and felt socially awkward.

Boy how things have changed! Now not only am I short, I’m balding, my eyes are going, and I’m closer to the grave than the cradle. Furthermore, as I compare myself with others, I see limitations everywhere. 

I can’t wrestle a spreadsheet down like Steve Basden; I can’t teach as well as Ben Messner or Gary Black; I can’t raise money like Tom Davis; I can’t love people as well as Deryck Livingston or Mark Almand, or father them as well as Andrew Shearman. I don’t counsel them as well as Karen, or excite them as well as Clint Bokelman. I’m not as brilliant as Jerry Goode, nor am I as reliable as Scott Borg. Mary Beth Swan loves God better than I do – she and Serena Livingston continually hold up my arms or they’d collapse, and a dozen other people prop me up in ways invisible to you.

Yet, with all this, I’m quite content being me – I’m comfortable in my own skin. People don’t have to worry if I’m going to try to steal glory from them. I see their special giftings and celebrate them. I don’t need to put any more gas in my emotional tank by stealing theirs. I delight in the body of Christ and the way it comes together and love my little part in making that happen.

I don’t moan about my problems and generally don’t struggle with comparisons. Of course young people flock to Gary – he was made to love them and exhort them. His huge gifting doesn’t diminish what I bring to the body of Christ, in fact, it makes it necessary! When he’s operating in his gift, he’s stirring up the gifts and destiny that have lain dormant in others.

And what do you do when a gift has been stirred up? That’s where I come in – I can figure out where to plug them in and how to deploy them in concert with others to achieve a common goal. We all get throw a party in the end.

Too many of us operate as though life were a zero-sum game. If someone else loses, I win. Better even that we both lose than that they win and I don’t.

That’s no way to live! Be at peace with who you are, warts and all. Your value to God is already a given; the opinion of your peers shouldn’t matter – it will be up one day and down the next. Make a pact with yourself to stop criticizing people as though you were on some teeter-totter – they go down and you go up. You are a unique treasure in God’s eyes! He put gifts in you that no one has. They are in no way diminished by someone else’s gifts – encourage their gifts to shine and yours will shine all the brighter.

God commanded us to love our neighbor as ourselves. It’s time we loved ourselves more, not in a self-absorbed way, but in a way where we at peace with our limitations, the world, and our place in it.

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