Is it noble to think less of yourself? The bible does tell us we should not think more highly of ourselves that we ought to think (Romans 12:3). I think God values us and the gifts he gives us to help others. We all know that our abilities and gifts come from God. That we are only vessels for his use. However, as vessels, we are worth a great deal to God. How would you treat precious china?—with great care! We are just that precious and valuable in his sight. Yet,Christians are more valuable than what we do between the 4 walls of our churches on Sunday. God means for this close church community to be a fueling station to go out and win the world, not a place that would drag down our motivations. Sadly though, the same community that can make us feel safe and secure, can also stagnate us when come to the will of God and finding our value in God. Church communities that have no focus can have the opposite of their intended effect and slow us down and dim our vision.
When we find our sense of self-worth only in the church walls, we will be of all men, most miserable. This is akin to having hope in this life only. I heard an old saying ” don’t put all your eggs in one basket”. I know so many Christians that seem to live to be patted on the back as a “good brother” or “sister”. They only seem go to church and then come home and start the process over again. However faithful this may be, it has been my experience, that these same people can become victims and focus their sense of self-worth in their church community’s acceptance of them, and not in God’s acceptance of their lives. When we do this, if that community rejects us for any reason, valid or not, we feel we’ve lost everything. I don’t think the bible teaches that outward attendance and church activities is the only way to keep your heart from “forsaking” and “departing” from God. I’ve seen too much of the opposite.
When I came to the Lord, I was a teen-ager and didn’t have a good sense of who I was, so it was easy to fall in closely with people who were seen as pillars in the church. But it was confusing because while I wanted spirituality from them, I also encountered jealousies and juvenile behavior from the same people who were perceived as pillars. I went through the period of admiring people and wanting to be like them and be seen as “good” to them. In fact, at one point it became more important to please the people I admired, than please God. Although that sounds horrible, I saw many others stumble around under the influence of prominent people until it seemed like church was just a cult of personalities. Whoever had the most charisma was the most righteous and whoever could make their case the loudest, or most convincing, or had the most influence with the leaders got what they wanted.
I’m glad God pulled me out of that mentality early on, and showed me I was going the wrong way. I was being influenced by people who were well thought of in church, but were not that strong in their walk with God. God’s tap on the shoulder saved me from allowing their convictions to replace the Spirit of God in my life. Many of them were saved longer than me, and were very tight with one another. Some of them were tighter with one another than they were their standing Pastor who was supposed be mentoring them. Although they claimed to be extremely close with one another, that they did not always correct one another, and seemed to assume each other’s spirituality was based on being part of the “clan”. Among this group were preachers or exhorters but I noticed that they, as well, all seemed to try to outdo one another –but not in a good way. As time went on, very few of them seemed to grow spiritually even though their positions in the church grew. Seeing this, I was glad God shook me lose from wanting to be part a church “in” crowd.
When you are truly seeking God, you cannot reach God’s true potential for your life and try to be part of an “in” crowd in the church community. It doesn’t work. Bottom line–there are cliques and groups and then there is the church. The church being the people who don’t care about your background good or bad, who know that they don’t need to “approve” of you as long as you are “approved” by God; the people who are not looking for you to agree with them all the time, but just want to see God’s will done. You know—the church—whose visibility is teetering.
I came to the ministry at a very turbulent time in our religious groups’ church history. One Pastor had passed on and a group that I spoke of above, that had been close friends came into power. From my observation, most of them seemed to feel that they had to be pastors somewhere—anywhere– in order to have a sense of personal value. Why do I say this? I saw the results of their “calls”. I am seeing the fruit of it. It was as if they felt they had not graduated unless they were anointed with this title when the bible teaches no such thing about ministry (Ephesians 4:24). I just watched. I was not a good thing to see. I can see how people fall into this need as a sense of self-worth because among our group that title is held extremely high in public affirmation, and positive reinforcement. As a result, sadly, some have titles but no heart for the work itself and too many of their fellow ministers are unwilling to pull them aside to correct them.
From the time I was “officially” acknowledged as a minister, I saw very little love, trust, care or spirituality among leadership. That might seem harsh, but it is, what it is. It was disappointing, but not discouraging because the bible says this would happen. If I were to base my self-worth on being “accepted” by my peers, I would be miserable. Most people tend to dwell in whatever reality feels comfortable to them anyway. I just want to do my part to live what I know to be right regardless of how others conduct themselves. I just want to be a help wherever God allows me to. I believe there is a reason that I have little connection or close bonding to the group mentioned above. It’s easi er for me to speak my heart with fear of being ostracized or someone not liking what I say. I was never part of the “in” crowd anyway.
Especially as a female minister I had to look to God and not men. I never had anyone take me under their wing because our group tends to focus on male leadership but it turned out to be good for me. No one taught me the ins and outs of preaching, no one taught me how to do a communion, or funeral and I had minimal help with the common ministerial functions because “where there were men around, why use as woman”. Our group does not have formal ministerial training but simply mentoring by older ministers. So I had to seek out training on my own. I certainly remember growth in my preaching and when God taught me how to adjust my preaching and how to order my messages. Now, I’m not so caught up in the “me and God” thing ask for help when I need it, but this is just an observation. I believe our current group would receive more acknowledgment from God if they would respect and acknowledge everyone that God uses. I had to find my own self-worth. I receive inspiration from reading about other female preachers https://www.christianhistoryinstitute.org/magazine/article/i-received-my-commission-from-him-brother/ and the good sister ministers that I know.
Along the way, I began to understand my own value and embrace it. At this point in my life, aside from having a good report “within” and “ without” for the sake of the gospel and doing what God allows me to accomplish, I tend to concern myself only with God’s will for my life and keeping focused on Him. In this religious jungle that we live in now, where it is difficult to tell who is sincere and who is not, I just keep looking up. I find my self-worth in what God gives me openings to do for his kingdom, and whether I am pleasing God as a mother and wife and follower of Christ. It’s so easy to get caught up in the past good or bad. God has helped me to move on with good rear-view vision of where I have been and a good front view of where He wants me to go, and I can’t ask for any better sense of self-worth than that. I still sometimes fear being misunderstood, but I realize that most people prefer to think what they wish anyway.