About a month ago, as I was waiting on my car at a tire shop, I started rereading Good to Great by Jim Collins. One of the things I want to continue developing is my understanding of what makes organizations great, whether that’s a business, educational institution, church, or non-profit organization. I figured this book was worth a second look since my first look was more of a skim back in college.
So far, one chapter has left an indelible impression on me. Again. When I reread it, I remembered the fascination and surprise that hit me the first time I read Collins’ interesting research on what kind of leadership was characteristic of “great” organizations. It came down to two things: personal humility and professional will.
Collins’ chapter on this kind of leadership begins with a quote from President Harry S. Truman. Truman says, “You can accomplish anything in life, provided you do not mind who gets the credit.” Read that again and ruminate on it.
What’s been wrecking my mind and heart is that last clause. I’m not concerned about accomplishing anything as much as I am concerned about doing what I know God has lead me to do at this time. I strive to do it well—to the best of my God-given abilities.
But often I struggle with what is actually motivating me. Am I really doing it simply because God has called me to it or because I am fully committed to the success of the organization/mission? Or am I working hard so I can get recognized? So I can receive the credit for the work I’m doing? Is it about getting a promotion? Is it about expanding my leadership?
Maybe my motivation is more often about proving myself. Proving to myself that I can do it. Proving to my boss that I have what it takes. Or proving to my family and mentors that their investment in me was worth it.
But I think it is worse when I subconsciously try to prove myself to God.
It’s the thinking that if I get “qualified” (=proving myself) enough, God will use me in “bigger” ways. There are so many things wrong with that statement that I don’t even know where to begin. It’s not even logical. When would I ever feel qualified enough for something God has called me to do? Never, I hope. And it seems fairly presumptuous to elevate certain roles or callings over others when God says every person plays a vital role in His family. And finally, what is moving me to do bigger things? Is it something holy or self-centered.
I can get caught up in this kind of thinking. And it is my guess that you can, too. Truman’s quote struck a cord deep inside of me that hadn’t been played recently. And it needed to be played badly.
You and I have nothing to prove to God. He is our Father. Children should not feel a constant need to prove themselves to their fathers; how much more should we not feel that need or burden with our Heavenly, perfect Father! Knowing we do not need to prove ourselves to God is a great comfort! It should relieve us of the feeling of inadequacy and the striving to show ourselves worthy and capable.
Proverbs 25:6 says, “Do not exalt yourself in the king’s presence, and do not claim a place among great men.” Jesus Christ has claimed that place for us. In Him, we have the highest standing. We are counted as God’s children through Jesus Christ, His Son, and so we have no need to exalt ourselves in the King’s presence or anyone else’s presence.
Candace and I came across a great thought this past weekend as we were perusing through a store. A plaque said: “God does not call the qualified. He qualifies the called.” May you remember all the people God has used throughout Scripture, and may you rest in the reality that God will qualify you for your calling.