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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
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.

Comments (9)

  • Could never be who I am with out you… your gift is huge to the body, Bro, thanks for being Seth Barnes!!!

  • Amen to that!! I love your blogs. It really makes me think. I am a parent and hopefully as good as you in my own ways and I am ok with that!
    Your an awesome teacher, Pam

  • To walk in humility and to love God is one of the strongest attributes we can have. You certainly have that, you have been a blessing to me and one of the strongest Christians I know. May the Lord bless your day.

  • Seth,

    I love the way Jesus rocks in you and through you. Just this morning before I read this blog I thought about you and your giftings. I thought about how 11 years ago you would invite me to team/leaders meetings on mission trips and I learned a lot as a translator. I have learned a lot from you.

    I praise God for your life and celebrate those around you for being a godly example of the body of Christ.

  • Perfect timing Seth (or should I say God).
    Just having a little struggle, nothing too big for God though!

    Thanks for all you are Seth. I think you’re pretty incredible!

  • are you calling my dad God?

    thanks for the pics daddy – love you and miss you lots! where did you get that earlier one? can’t wait to see you!

  • I know you wrote this several days ago, but I am just now getting the chance to read it and wow!! good stuff that I think many many people need to hearincluding myself. Thanks for the reminder….God really is using you to encourage others!

  • Thanks for your openness in sharing about how you are comfortable in being the person God made you to be. This is a powerful testimony and Jesus is glorified!

  • You’re welcome, Steve. Here it is 5 years after I originally wrote this and I have more limitations than ever – but God is still good and makes me OK.

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Seth Barnes

I'm motivated to join God in his global reclamation project. He's on the move, setting his sons and daughters free from their places of captivity. And he's partnering with those of us who have been freed to go and free others.



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