Wednesday, July 8, 2009

I am a Recovering Leatherman

Acts 9:15, NRSV, “But the Lord said to him, ‘Go, for he is an instrument whom I have chosen to bring my name before Gentiles and kings and before the people of Israel;’”

My mother is emphatic about a woman being able to fix/remodel things around the house. For as long as I can remember, she has had a basket containing a staple gun, a screwdriver, nails, tape, and various other stray tools of the basic variety. With this basket, my mother could remake anything. I think of that basket fondly as it entered homes across Texas placing fear in the hearts of curtain rods everywhere.

So, a few years ago, I went to Cabela’s with my husband and father. I saw nothing that peaked my interest except the camping supplies that made any dreary trip to the wilderness seem more like home. Then, there in the aisle, was a shiny bright Leatherman.

For anyone who does not know what this is, it is a four inch long solution to a toolbox. My mother could have ruled the world with this instrument. It is about three pounds of countless gadgets that all fold up neatly into this carrying case, about the size of a long cell phone. Magic happens with this thing, and that day I got one.

Utility is important and I have been thinking about mine lately. I am asking God in prayer right now what He wants me to do with His time. I am involved in a slew of activities, both leading and following. Here it is so hot, that we basically take the summer off, which gives you enough of a break to look toward the fall with a clear head. I know that God only wants me to dedicate myself to the activities that He has ordained. So, I might cut or I might add…I have no idea. I just desire to be useful.

This means that there is ministry that I am built for, I was made for. It also means that there is ministry that is not mine. Even when God was talking about Paul in this passage, He was very specific about his mission. Paul was to bring God’s name before the Gentiles and kings and the people of Israel. He was a preacher, with a unique mission. Everything in Paul said that he was made for this service to God, and 2000 years later we all know of Paul’s dedication to preaching the gospel.

An instrument is crafted. It has a sharp end on this side, and a handle on that side, or vice versa. There are so many variations of sharp ends and handles it can make your head spin. A scalpel is built to concisely cut. A hatchet is built to divide, I think. Instruments are made for specific things, while the materials that they could act on are different.

If I am a teacher, I can teach youth or seniors or children because I am a teacher. If I am an administrative guru, I can organize files and people because I am administrative. If I am a wife, I can have my home organized and prepared to offer hospitality because I am a wife. I could add to this wife list, but I might lose you. Also, if we are wives, there is a priority to the use of our instrument. Our home comes first. We have to put this in order before we impose ourselves on other mediums.

Saul brought God’s name (ministry) before the Gentiles, kings, and Israelites (mediums). God assigns people specific tasks to complete His purpose.

We ooh and aah over the human Leatherman’s of the world, those people who have forty-seven tools in their arsenal but can never use any of them effectively. They are shiny at the end of an aisle, but rarely get anything accomplished, believe me I have tried. Instead of a vast resource, they become the exhausted broken wheel with lots of tools, but not one that can fix them. This inflicts chaos and lethargy on any ministry. When we become Leatherman’s we are no longer involved in effective ministry.

I am eager to see how God narrows down my field and increases my effectiveness. I want for Him to multiply Himself in me, which is the opposite of spreading me thin. I have never said no to something that was not picked up and handled by someone else. I also do not regret saying no, anymore. It takes much greater wisdom to know where you can be multiplied, rather than diluted.

Let’s evaluate our usefulness and make sure that we are headed in the directions that God has laid out for us.

Father, thank you for using us at all. We know that you could do everything yourself perfectly, but instead you ask us to be a part of your purpose. Show us where you choose to use us as your instrument, and where we need to step away.

1 comment:

  1. Of course there is the opposite problem too: never saying "yes". Always saying "no" out of fear of doing/being the wrong thing, the thing God does NOT want you to do. I guess you could call that a Leatherman that is stuck shut. This is an equally exhausting position....


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