During the past few weeks, my Bible study group has been mediating on the idea of humility. Recently, we learned about Paul’s humility.
What strikes me about Paul is that his characteristics and strengths remained constant through his journey: before he knew God and after he found God’s grace and mercy. He was always a zealous, perseverant, thick-skinned person – but it was once targeted for persecution, and then changed to a zealousness for telling people about mercy, repentance, and the gospel.
While most of us aren’t as extreme as Paul (as in, we don’t persecute Christians or use our gifts for the complete opposite of God’s calling), I have realized one thing: when we use our strengths on our own terms, we often think we are using them well and that we are in a good place. We don’t necessarily know what lies ahead of us and how much more we could do if we used these for God. This is where humility comes in.
I was reminded of my youth pastor, who once talked about how she got to a ministry of helping addicts and the homeless. She said that she originally went to school for hotel management and hospitality, and she always thought she would use this to establish a career managing trendy restaurants and hotels in the city. God changed her plans, and she was humble enough to let Him do so. God used her strengths and passion to change her ministry and define her calling. Instead of managing restaurants, she now serves thousands of meals to the homeless. Instead of managing hotels, she manages sober living facilities for men coming out of drug addiction, prison, and homelessness. This new mission required the same general skills, but has a very different purpose.
I can’t help but apply this to my own life, and ask questions about how God will use my experiences and gifts to reach the lost. But I also don’t think that I, with all my limited understanding, have the knowledge and foresight to put this together – to figure out how to use my strengths for God. What I have learned and what I continue to learn is that part of humility is 1) trusting in God and 2) letting go of our plans so that His better, more perfect plans can begin to emerge.