New Hope Notes
Moving Beyond Mediocrity
Discovering Your Potential
Pastor Elwin Ahu
Moving Beyond Mediocrity
Discovering Your Potential
Pastor Elwin Ahu
March 6, 2010
Finding your identity is not as easy as it sounds. It is not like clicking the heels of your red shoes on the yellow brick road to the Wizard of Oz and then your identity is instantly revealed to you. It just does not seem that simple as “easing on down” that yellow brick road. But why is it so hard to find your identity and potential?
David Benner, author of “The Gift of Being Yourself” wrote, “In all of creation, identity is a challenge only for humans. A tulip knows exactly what it is. It is never tempted by false ways of being. Nor does it face complicated decisions in the process of becoming. So it is with dogs, rocks, trees, stars, amoebas, electrons, and all other things. All give glory to God by being exactly what they are. For in being what God means them to be, they are obeying him. Humans, however, encounter a more challenging existence...we think, we consider options, we decide, we act, we doubt. Simple being is tremendously difficult to achieve and fully authentic being extremely rare." Interesting observation, yeah?
Only humans question their identity. A chair knows exactly what it is. It does not complain about being sat upon. Only humans have difficulty discovering who we are. Part of the problem is that we let too many sources define who we are. We let not only our failures define us but our successes as well. If we succeed at something we tend to get rewarded for it and may get paid more to continue with that success even though it is not in our heart and soul. And then we tend to get stuck there and keep on doing the same thing that is expected of us but strangely, we are not satisfied. So our identity gets confused and we default to mediocrity.
But we really should know who we are, "For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them." (Eph. 2:10)
The word “WORKMANSHIP” is actually "poiema" in Greek and that is where we get the word POEM. Poems are handcrafted with intentionality. I once wrote a love poem to my wife, Joy about our wedding day and I took very careful time to make sure it was perfect with feeling, meaning and beauty. It took some time to really craft it out. When God said “workmanship”, He meant that you are like his carefully crafted poem or his masterpiece. Never think that you are anything less.
So why slip into mediocrity? That is not what God intended. When God created you, He had a unique assignment for you. You are not like anyone else. Only you can fulfill His assignment. Only you can be the best husband for your wife or the best father for your children. So why lead mediocre lives?
So how can we move ahead? Well, it …
Everything you see around you started with a dream. What do you see? You have to see it in your mind first before you can accomplish anything great. I am not talking about the dreams you have when you are sleeping. I am talking about the divine plans and dreams the Lord has for you. Unfortunately, the world has a tendency to bury those dreams under layers of doubt and failure but I know that those dreams are still in all of you.
The Lord has a dream for you and it will be fulfilled because "The Lord of hosts has sworn saying, 'Surely, just as I have intended so it has happened, and just as I have planned so it will stand ... For the Lord of hosts has planned, and who can frustrate it?'" (Is. 14:24, 27) So you can see that the plans God has for you will be fulfilled. Joseph put up with prison because he had a dream. Paul put up with persecution because he had a dream. Without dreams you will be ruled by changing circumstances and the different moments of the day.
Life does have a way of whittling away at our dreams, though. Young people tend to dream big, but as we get older our dreams shrink. The reason is that as adults we become afraid of failure so we shrink the dream down so that we can succeed easier. But that only results in a life of mediocrity.
So do not stop dreaming. The best way is to take time alone with God. Do your daily devotions because it is the way that God will reveal Himself to you. While doing your devotions, dream about how great your life and family can be. Imagine if your family was doing just super and what it would look like. Ask God what he thinks of your vision and dream.
Kyle MacDonald had a dream. He dreamed of owning his own house and trading up to eventually get it. He started with a red paper clip and traded it for a pen, then traded the pen for a door knob and then a Coleman stove. Eventually he kept on trading and along the way received a truck and a part in a movie and finally did get a house! And all this happened because Kyle had a dream and a red paper clip. But remember, you have more than just a paper clip. You have the power of God within you. As the Bible says, "But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, so that the surpassing greatness of the power will be of God and not from ourselves." (2 Cor. 4:7) In other word, we have the power of Jesus Christ.
So why do we stop dreaming? If Kyle can do it with a little paper clip, think of what we can do with the power of Jesus Christ in us. As it is written, “I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.” (John 14:12) So do not try to cruise through life. Do not lead a mediocre life. You have the power of God in you. So use it for His glory. Dare to dream and …
Discovering your identity and potential is a process. Dorothy and her friends in the Wizard of Oz would never have discovered their identity and potential if they had left the yellow brick road. But on that road to discovery there is and will be frustration and challenges. Unfortunately, when we hit challenges we tend to bail out. We should not - because it is in that process and working through those challenges that we learn a lot about ourselves. But we should also be very aware that the enemy will throw all sorts of lies at us to get us off that road to discovery.
In the movie, “Chariots of Fire” the main character lost his first race, became discouraged and said, “If I can’t win, I won't run.” His girlfriend replied, “If you won’t run, you can’t win.” God will use tough times to teach you and test you. I myself have been tested many times. Early in my pastoral career, a row of women walked out on me in the middle of my sermon. That was discouraging. A man once came up to me and said that he would always call to see if Pastor Wayne would be speaking – if it was me speaking then he would not show up. But that man did say that after hearing me speak that my words spoke to his heart after all. It has also been difficult to play “second fiddle” to Pastor Wayne, but we have to realize that there is no harmony without the “second fiddle.” It was especially hard because I had come to ministry from being a judge and the courtroom had been my kingdom where I ruled. But God was trying to teach me things. While I had left the courtroom, He still had to take the courtroom out of me. I had to learn that in the process or on my road to discovery.
It is not easy in a marriage, job or ministry but dream what God wants for you and work it through. Stay with the process. When we ask why it takes so long, God says, "For the vision is yet for the appointed time; it hastens toward the goal and it will not fail. Though it tarries, wait for it; for it will certainly come, it will not delay." (Hab. 2:3) Do not rush the process. As the Bible says, "But the vessel that he was making of clay was spoiled in the hand of the potter; so he remade it into another vessel, as it pleased the potter to make ... 'Can I not, O house of Israel, deal with you as this potter does?' declares the Lord. 'Behold, like the clay in the potter's hand, so are you in My hand, O house of Israel.'" (Jer. 18:4, 6) When you are going through those long tough times, God is reshaping you. He is breaking you down so that He can remake you into His masterpiece.
For you sisters out there waiting to get married, I counsel patience. Sometimes you might think that your biological clock is ticking so that you have to settle for second best but I tell you that God has the best guy for you. Do not settle for second best. When God’s timing is right then it will happen. God may be taking the time to get both of you ready for each other and His plan.
So how do you move ahead?
You have it all inside of you. God has given you His gift of potential. As it is written, "You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother's womb. Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous?how well I know it." (Ps. 139:13-14 NLT)
Who you are has nothing to do with what you look like on the outside. Unfortunately, many of us do not believe that. Recently, 10.5 billion dollars was spent on cosmetic surgery in the United States. 99% were female. The age range of 40-54 had the most procedures. Why don’t they like what they see? Well, as you age gravity begins to take over. But do not allow beauty to be only skin deep. Always remember what God has given you on the inside.
God has given you a D-E-S-I-G-N. One way of looking at it would be to see what each of those letters stand for.
There was a 75 year old woman who won a Salsa dance contest in Spain. She did not sit back living a mediocre life. She used all her God given gifts. Now if a woman can use her 75 year old body and a man can use a red paper clip to attain their dreams, think about what we can do with the power of God within us.
We are God’s masterpieces. We should not settle for a life of mediocrity. We should start with a dream because all great accomplishments begin with a dream and we should stay with the process or on the road to discovery though it may be difficult. We need to realize that God has already given us everything we need inside of us so it is ourselves that will move us beyond mediocrity.
1. What does it mean to be God’s “workmanship”?
2. What is your obligation to God?
3. What is your dream?
4. How can you stay true to the process?
5. What have been your challenges on your yellow brick road?
6. Why is it difficult for human beings to find their identity?