We Have Never Had the Power

My Ugandan daughter’s birth mom named her Power. We loved it so much we kept it in her legal American name because well, it is her name and gosh, it suits her so well.

My little girl is feisty. Like energy and passion and emotion to the nth degree. And while it makes me a tired mama, I’m just eating up all that personality.

I get her. My aunt told my mother when I was five years old that I was either going to be a stripper or a cross-cultural worker, she just wasn’t sure which one. Funny, hey? By the grace of our Good Father, I’m writing to you on this site. Let’s just leave it there.

POWER. It’s a great word to dwell on this week because I believe it’s a concept we really struggle with on the field.

Growing up, I was taught that if I had all my Bible verses in the right order and I prodded people enough, the Gospel would make sense to them.

I listened to cross-cultural worker reports and read cross-cultural worker newsletters, which essentially talked about all the things the people were doing to win souls.

Work, work, work. Convert, convert, convert.

Strive, strive, strive. Win, win, win.

Exhaust yourself = model cross-cultural worker behavior.

Right? Wrong.

The problem with this mindset is that the power to change people’s hearts is placed on OUR shoulders. The authority to move in others is transferred away from God and into our hands, where it was never meant to be.

I like how Father Gregory Boyle talks about burnout.

He says that ministry is not about saving the world or saving people. That mindset leads to burnout.

“If the intent is to save people, or even to help people, then it works that way. You’re going to be depleted,” Boyle said.

“For me, it’s never about depletion. It used to be, when I used to think my job was saving lives. But now I think saving lives is for the Coast Guard. Our choice always is the same: save the world or savor it. And I vote for savoring it. And, just because everything is about something else, if you savor the world, somehow—go figure—it’s getting saved.”

Now, I’m not saying that we can just brush by people and rub the Gospel off onto them. I’m not saying that we quit teaching and preaching Good News. I’m not saying that there isn’t some real action involved in discipling new believers.

But power? Yeah … we never had it in the first place. What we have is the power of Christ living in us, and it’s HIM that works in others.

It’s HIM that changes hearts. It’s HIM that converts the blind to seeing. It’s HIM that brings redemption.

GOD HOLDS THE POWER. We are merely his hands and feet, his workmanship.

What I hope you hear from this message is that you have no authority or control to make people turn to a Living God. None.

So we can take the pressure off ourselves to perform just right, and allow the Good Shepherd to use his almighty power to bring people into His fold.

Our job is to show up and be faithful. His job is to bring those persons of peace to the point of acceptance, and He’ll do that through His power.

How have you struggled to place the appropriate responsibility of power on God, rather than yourself?

How can you relinquish some unnecessary weight of ministry that might be pushing you towards burnout?

In what ways does Scripture talk about the almighty sovereignty and power of God? How does that reminder change the way you might do ministry on the field?

8 Comments

  1. Amber Taube October 17, 2016

    I have been LIVING on this truth for a while now! Thanks for driving it home again!

  2. Bes October 17, 2016

    Rom 1:16 ¶ For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes,
    I fall into the trap of trying to bear that burden in my own power time and time again. I catch myself and try to sit down and refocus through Scripture.
    I also try to remind the leaders I work with that they cannot change other’s lifestyles by commanding or lecturing. The Word of God works in people. We need to teach the whole word and let it work through the Holy Spirit within those that we teach. Heb 4:12 For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. Let that powerful Word do it’s job. We are to teach the Word, not to change others.

    1. Lauren Pinkston October 17, 2016

      So good, Bes. It’s incredible what can happen when someone encounters the Word of God and is overcome by the power it holds. We can share it in a powerful way, of course, but we are not the change agents. Only He can do that! I think you summed it up perfectly here, especially with those two scriptures! Thank you.

  3. Monica F October 18, 2016

    Amen and Amen! This post was POWERFUL!!! Thank you for putting into words what my heart has been trying to express this last year after recovering from burnout. Every sentence you wrote, ended with me saying, “YES!” Awesome, awesome… thank you!

    1. Lauren Pinkston October 25, 2016

      Burnout is a jerk! I found a lot of comfort in Father Gregory Boyle’s words, and I couldn’t keep them to myself! 🙂 So happy you found validation here!

  4. Kaitlyn October 20, 2016

    I am currently raising funds to be an overseas worker in Haiti and my goal is to leave in January but at this moment it isn’t looking so promising so it’s really nice to have read this to remind me that I don’t have the power but the Lord does!

    1. Lauren Pinkston October 25, 2016

      Our Father absolutely has the power! Thankfully He is already at work there, and you will have such a privilege to join Him in his work. We can’t wait to hear your stories from the field and walk with you through that transition!

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