He got me. I was hooked.
Many years ago my wife and I were shopping for a private school for my son who has Asperger’s syndrome. This was before anyone had ever heard of how Autism was increasing let alone any school system addressing those concerns for this growing population of students. The headmaster who was from South Africa said, “we hire teachers who have healthy self-esteems so they don’t have to build their self-esteem off of the students.” Wow. What an unspoken but very real phenomenon. Some need the esteem building relationship of students to help them feel good about themselves while others already are confident and self assured and are thus free to simply teach and serve the need of the students. So whose needs are being met? In the former, the teacher’s needs, in the latter, the students. Which kind of teacher would you want for your child? No question about it. We want someone who is so selfless that they get lost in serving the needs of the students. He got me. I was hooked. We went with that school.
In your ministry, whose needs are being met? Are you serving the people and their growth and maturity in faith and leadership or are you serving yourself? Not so fast. Think about it for a minute. In what way and to what degree may you be working for the affirmation of others? Do you crave the spotlight of people’s attention and adulation? How much? How often do you get upset with the quality of outcomes because you are afraid of how it will reflect upon you? How easily do you forget about the quality of other’s growth, the quality of the ministry toward others, and the resulting praise of God (see Matt 5:16 and others)! How self-aware are you as you go about your life and ministry? How you answer those questions will say volumes about your capacity for empowering others.
As Christians we have the unconditional love of God in Jesus Christ. We know the verse by heart: “For God so love the world (you!)…that He gave His only Son…” John 3:16. Now if the God of the universe says He loves you intimately, completely and unconditionally, then why do you still feel (in ways small and large) that you need to justify yourself through your works, through the outcomes and productivity you create and use that to make yourself feel worthwhile? Or put another way, since God’s love is so complete for you, is there any reason left to so desire the praise of other people that you hoard those opportunities for ministry? Is there any reason you should keep that for yourself and not work to “give away the ministry” (empowerment) for the edification and growth of others and the benefit of the kingdom? Who do we think we are or what do we think we need that we resist empowering others? Taken to the extreme, have we ever been guilty of taking undue credit that was really done through a group or even a single person? We've seen others do it. Are we guilty? What's all this about?
It may be some scar from our past. It may be some quirk in our personality, some dark corner that needs the light of Christ to shine upon it. But that doesn’t mean we should put up with it and allow it to continue. Chances are there aren't a lot of people standing in line to set you straight. So we have to learn to be brutally honest with ourselves and rediscover the beauty and sweetness of the Gospel in our own lives.
In this way, empowerment is not based upon self-esteem as my headmaster friend spoke about. It really has everything to do with “Christ-esteem” or finding your value in Christ and His love for you. In this way you don’t have to build your esteem off of your ministry, your people or anything else.
- What makes you feel valued? God’s love in Christ or something else? To what degree do those other things “hook” you?
- What unconsciously directs your choices and motivations? Your need for the approval of others? Your love of others and wanting to see them grow and develop? Other? See Galatians 1:10.
- What ministry can you “give away” to the joy and surprises of those whom God has potentially gifted for that ministry?
- What will you do and when will you do it?
Empowerment Part 10 Empowerment and Self Esteem