Some years ago I had the honor of being a part of Leadership Greenhouse at LifeSong Church.
Honestly, I didn’t have a clue what that was. I wasn’t qualified or deserving, but God was working on me. He gave me an opportunity. The next move was to take it and follow through to see what He would do.
These three words have become a mantra over the years. Faithful. Available. Teachable. It sounds like the burden to be faithful, to make myself available, to remain open and teachable is all on me. That’s true in a sense, but the reality is that being FAT is simply not sustainable without a close, intimate relationship with and continual pursuit of Christ. We are all so flawed and broken, we just can’t maintain this attitude on our own. There are so many factors that work against us in the flesh. Every day we are reminded that we live in a fallen world. That’s why it’s so critically important that we choose to stay connected, surrendered and submitted to Jesus DAILY.
Think about it. We can serve God, the church and others faithfully and with enthusiasm in our own power …. for a while. We might start out with pure and eager hearts, but very subtly corruption can start to creep in and take over like kudzu. The sin of pride can threaten our faithfulness. Is approval or recognition our real motivation? Are we in the game for our own glory? If so, it’s not long before we’re disappointed, angry, jaded. When we make a mistake, does the fear of failure cripple us? Satan says “this is too hard” … and yes, choosing to deny self and follow Christ IS HARD. The temptation is to throw in the towel. If Jesus isn’t front and center, if our love for Him isn’t behind everything we can easily lose interest, get mad or scared, give up, lose the faith.
How available do we make ourselves to be God’s instruments? We are a busy people. Our calendars are slap full, leaving little margin to give ourselves away. Between work outside the home, chores around the house, kids, parents, grandkids, personal wants, unexpected problems, commitments we choose (and those placed upon us) and trying to carve out a few minutes of desperately needed down-time We. Go. Wide. Open. At the end of today, we’re already behind on tomorrow with zero time and energy to even think about anything beyond what’s on our plate. Maxed out, over capacity and unable to respond to anything else. (Sound familiar?) For others the problem may be the total opposite. There’s lots and LOTS of margin, but we are lazy, or we lack confidence, or feel unequipped. We mistakenly think that the little we might offer Him wouldn’t really make a difference so we do nothing. We muster up our best excuses, expecting God to accept our justification instead of giving Him our all. Maybe it’s our poor financial decisions that have stretched us to the point of snapping that disqualifies us and makes us unusable. With hard hearts, full calendars, poor self-image, wrong views of God, bad choices and more we can easily exclude ourselves without even realizing it, making ourselves unavailable to Him and others.
Someone who thinks they already have all the answers makes for a bad student, but someone who is humble is receptive to change and learning new things. If we aren’t interested in growing in Christ, we won’t. By honest self-evaluation, by seeking God’s wisdom and guidance through prayer, through the study of scripture, by surrounding ourselves with wise counsel, by allowing Jesus to shape and stretch us …. we not only remain teachable, but our capacity increases. Choose to do nothing and what we get is stale, stagnant and distant from God. It’s up to us to stay in training and flex those spiritual muscles. The work of the Holy Spirit is squelched in a heart that is unyielding and unwilling to accept instruction.
“But be sure to fear the Lord and serve him faithfully with all your heart; consider what great things he has done for you.”
1 Samuel 12:24 NIV
“Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.”
John 15:4-5 NIV
“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction.”
Proverbs 1:7 NIV