Time Out: Weekly quiet times for the youth worker’s soul.
(by Jerry Schmoyer)
Over the next year, on the first Monday of the month, we’re going to be running a series within Time Out called “Life Lessons” by Jerry Schmoyer (Tim’s dad). Here’s a note from Jerry:
As I approach retirement age and look back on a lifetime of ministry I realize there are some important principles I have learned. I’d like to share some of these with you. I’m sure God is teaching you these same truths, but perhaps explaining them from my perspective can benefit you.
Life Lesson 4: We Can’t Evaluate Our Worth By The Use Of Our Gifts
I’ve been sharing some of the lessons I’ve learned in a life of ministry: God doesn’t need me but I need Him, the more I grow the further away I am and intimacy with God is still my number one goal. Another important truth I’ve learned is not to evaluate my worth or growth as a person just by my ability to use the gifts God has given me. My spiritual gifts are mainly teaching/preaching and counseling. As I’ve practiced them for four decades I can see that there has been growth and improvement in these areas. My wife says I’m at the top of my game now in ministry. I should be, since I’ve spent thousands of hours over the years honing these skills. It’s nice to look back and see the improvement made and efficiency attained in these areas.
I thank God for this, because it is His grace and His Spirit that has brought these about. However I’ve no illusion that I could have done this on my own. I know what these ‘skills’ would look like should He withdraw His Spirit and His help from me. On my own I would be a real failure in these areas. He gets the credit for them.
It’s important for me to realize that truth because if I don’t I start thinking that somehow I am pretty good as a person because of what I do. It’s easy for us, especially for men, to evaluate ourselves by what we do instead of who we are. Who I am as a person, though, is entirely different than what I’ve learned to do in using the gifts God has given me. I am not defined by what I produce but by who I am inside, separate from how I perform my ministry duties. Does that make sense? Are you following me here? I hope so for I believe this is very important.
When God looks at me He isn’t impressed by my last sermon or counseling session. He looks at my heart, at the real me. Judas was skilled in ministry, so much so that he was trusted with the money bag. No one suspected Judas when Jesus said someone would betray Him. Judas was probably one of the most talented and personable disciples. He could function very well. But none of that mattered, did it?
I enjoy teaching, preaching and counseling. I have a great desire to do these things and do them well. I feel great when that happens. However hardly a Sunday goes by when, standing at the door after the service listening to people complement the message, I don’t remember Howard Hendrick’s description of that event as the “glorification of the worm.” It helps me remember where the credit really belongs. I don’t want to take credit for what He does, that would be stealing His glory.
I don’t want to use God’s gifts to impress others, myself or God. I can enjoy what He has given me and does through me but I can’t take credit for it myself and I can’t evaluate myself as a human being just by how I can perform.
And neither can you. So if you are getting more effective and skillful in ministry – great! But don’t take credit for it. Don’t use that to evaluate your worth or your spiritual growth. Thank God for using you and doing those things through you, but don’t take credit for them. They are what you do (by God’s grace), now who you are!
1 Cor 15:10 But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them — yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me.
Rom 15:17 Therefore I glory in Christ Jesus in my service to God.
How much emphasis do you put on the successful use of your spiritual gifts? Are you tempted to take pride in them?
If God removed His grace and power from your ministry and gifts, what would change?
How do you measure your spiritual growth? How does God measure it?
Jerry Schmoyer has been a minister in Pennsylvania for over 25 years and has worked with teenagers for 14 years. Yes, he’s also Tim’s dad.
Posted on May 2, 2011