Mark Griffiths and Rachel Turner’s monthly look at NexGen ministry
I am a ninja at self-criticism. I can twist my way around my positive-energy defences and stab myself right in my most vulnerable place. One of the holes in my armour is my idea about ‘giving my best’.
I love ministry. I love the privilege of ministering to congregations, families, children and teens. I want to fully embrace every opportunity to help people know God, encounter him and grow in their life journey with him. With all my being, I want to give my absolute best – the fullness of what I am capable of.
But I’m also exhausted.
And I sometimes struggle with my mental health.
And sometimes, I’m just under the weather.
Or one of my family members needs my attention.
Sometimes, I just feel out of creativity or compassion.
So, it’s impossible to do my best.
Hiyyyyyyyyyyyyah! In comes my ninja of self-criticism to poke at my shame.
“God deserves your best at all times, and that intergenerational service was definitely not your best. It would have been way better if you had given more time to the planning.”
“Your tiredness means that your team is now stressed out because you didn’t do the admin you should have. You are creating problems for other people with your laziness.”
Stab after stab, I can degrade my efforts until I feel embarrassed and ashamed. I didn’t bring my best, and I should have.
God interrupted me during one of my late-night ninja fights with myself. A little thought dropped in my mind, just a whisper of an idea: the widow’s mite. I thumbed through my Bible and found the passage in Luke 21:1-4.
“As Jesus looked up, he saw the rich putting their gifts into the temple treasury. He also saw a poor widow put in two very small copper coins. “Truly I tell you,” he said, “this poor widow has put in more than all the others. All these people gave their gifts out of their wealth; but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.”
I froze and then read it over and over again.
“She out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.”
I had been comparing myself to my best, most wealthy day when I was healthy and emotionally whole – when I have all the time I need and my family is flying high, when I’m full of passion, love and ideas. When I am feeling all those things, I can produce an extremely high quality of work. I am proud of it. It is a reflection of the best that is within me in service to a God who uses it as he wants.
90 percent of my ministry life, though, isn’t with all those things happening. I see the difference in my work and am ashamed of my offering.
But Jesus sees it differently.
“Truly I tell you,” he said, “this poor widow has put in more than all the others. All these people gave their gifts out of their wealth; but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.”
I do give my best, every day. It is the best I have at the moment. It is all I have. It may not be much. It may be out of the poverty of the moment. But it is my all.
And Jesus says it is valuable. It is seen. It is appreciated. It is useful and honoured.
My best is what I have to give at the time. And that is good enough for him.
My whole ministry transformed when I considered my best as a sacrifice and service to God, regardless of its quality. My question stopped being: “Is this the best I can ever do?” It became: “Did I put in all I have right now? What this my best, today?”
I can be content with today’s best, with today’s circumstances, because God certainly is.
My mother bought me a widow’s mite that has been strung onto a necklace. If you see me in a video, you might see me wearing it. I wear it when I’m nervous or feel like I need to be reminded that all God is asking is that I give him what I have right now, which is pleasing and valuable to him.
In the end, all my job is, is to give him all I have and he has the power to use it as he wills for the good of those he loves.
Sometimes I need to call for help, admit my limits and learn to be content with serving God with my now, knowing it is enough.
When Jesus says my best is worthy, not even my ninja can get past that.