Whoever speaks [to the congregation], is to do so as one who speaks the oracles (utterances, the very words) of God. Whoever serves [the congregation] is to do so as one who serves by the strength which God [abundantly] supplies, so that in all things God may be glorified [honored and magnified] through Jesus Christ, to whom belongs the glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.
I Peter 4:11 AMP
Just get over yourself! Okay, for the record, I’m saying this to me, not you. I must get over my pride, my shame, my disappointments and myself for God to receive the glory due Him. If you read my last few blogs, you may have picked up on the fact that my family and I endured a few tough years, in addition to some stressful work situations. However, “we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28). The good God worked seeded deeply within me. The end result was that I learned to surrender to God and my faith was stronger than ever. Knowing I was called according to His purpose, I knew the goodness of God was a testimony that I wanted to give.
A couple of years ago, I was given a wonderful opportunity to share my testimony with others. I was asked to speak at a women’s luncheon at the church that helped lay the foundation of my faith. I was super excited because on other occasions when I was given the opportunity to speak there, I was able to do so under the anointing of the Holy Spirit. In the months leading up to the day I was to speak, I prayed and prayed for God to give me the words to say. My heart really wanted to proclaim His goodness in how He had shown Himself through my darkest days during the previous few years. Yet as I prepared and prayed for the day, I found I had “speaker’s block,” much like writer’s block. I couldn’t get the words I wanted to speak to formulate.
I had hoped the block would lift once I got to the microphone, but it didn’t. So I spent way too much time hashing through my pain and struggles that had led to my cancer diagnosis. When I finished without sharing the testimony that was really on my heart, I was devastated. I felt like I’d let God down as well as the women who were there to receive a Word from Him. I expressed my disappointment about how I didn’t share as I had wanted to a friend of mine as soon as I stepped down from the stage. I can’t remember if her exact words were she felt I “really needed to release” or “cleanse” myself from the past by sharing as I did. All I knew was that I was embarrassed that I’d spent too much time talking about myself and not acknowledging God’s goodness.
Consider it nothing but joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you fall into various trials. Be assured that the testing of your faith [through experience] produces endurance [leading to spiritual maturity, and inner peace]. And let endurance have its perfect result and do a thorough work, so that you may be perfect and completely developed [in your faith], lacking in nothing
James 1:2-4 AMP
Over the next year, my embarrassment was turned into downright shame and guilt by the enemy. I couldn’t shake it. I felt like I’d let down the pastor that had invited me, and I felt like I’d proven to God I wasn’t qualified to minister to other women. The reality is I could never have survived without Jesus and the many, many prayers petitioned on my behalf. I’d gone from thinking I had really accomplished something by surviving life, to shame and guilt for what I’d been proud of. I wallowed in this self-pity for many months. When given the opportunity to step up in service at my own church, I couldn’t step up to the plate. I felt I didn’t deserve to serve because I’d failed God. Even as I shared at Bible study, my humiliation poured through until one night I got a revelation through my pastor.
The revelation was that when we take pride in our pains and struggles by mere surviving or when we wallow in our shame and guilt, we’re still focusing on ourselves. Focusing on ourselves, good or bad, takes away the focus from our Savior who gets us through our pain and struggles, but He also has delivered us from shame and condemnation. By allowing condemnation to plague my thoughts, I again was looking inward and not upward. I also finally understood my friend had been absolutely right about my need to be cleansed and release my pain to God. The speaker’s block I experienced at the women’s luncheon proved to be a valuable lesson. I knew I never wanted to focus God-given opportunities on myself, as if I could ever achieve anything separate and apart from God. In addition, that revelation helped me to get over myself. The release of telling my story of hurt and pain was needed. Although I was disappointed in squandering an opportunity to truly magnify Him as He deserves, I did release the pain. I was finally ready to get over myself!
I was ready to stop focusing on the specific experiences that led me to the foot of the cross and I was ready to start worshiping there. Yes, I have never shied away from proclaiming His miracle-working power and goodness, but I did hold back a little glory for myself. Upon realizing that, the shame held me back from giving myself fully in service to Him. The devil is a tricky one, but thank God I surround myself with good people who led me back to the Truth!
He must increase, but I must decrease. [He must grow more prominent; I must grow less so.]
(John 2:30 AMPC)
I’ve been around many other people that want to compare scars, wounds and traumatic experiences as if they’re the only ones that have ever suffered. It’s not a contest, people. I recently read a book by Jack Frost that talked about how we shouldn’t need a dramatic life experience to hear God’s voice and grow closer to Him. Psalm 37:11 says, “But the meek shall inherit the earth; and shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace.” Lately, I’ve had a growing admiration for those who are meek and humble in spirit. These are the folks that have focused on the outcome of God’s goodness rather than the pain that has brought it. We are aware that the enemy uses the pride of life to ensnare us. However, we fail to recognize the underbelly of pride is shame. Shame is the accusatory version of pride but we’ve been redeemed by the blood of Christ, and we must keep ourselves “in the love of God, waiting anxiously and looking forward to the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ [which will bring you] to eternal life” (Jude 21 AMP). When we look for His mercies, we shall recognize them as His and recognize all is for His Glory and not our own.
When pride comes, then comes shame; But with the humble is wisdom.