In today’s society, there seems to be this ever-increasing need for perfection. Look at the models that are plastered on the billboards along your local interstate or in your local “trendy” department store window, or the “reality” shows on television. Everyone is striving to be something they aren’t… perfect. Physically perfect, mentally perfect, socially and culturally perfect, we want to look perfect, dress perfect, act perfect, and speak perfect… but we never can achieve perfection. Our culture sets this impossible standard, and what’s worse is the cultural message of “perfection” has seeped into the church and into the ideals that shape our thoughts about each other, our gatherings, our purposes, and ourselves.
The truth is perfection is not just a ridiculously high standard; it’s an impossible standard. This truth can be stated no more plainly than in Romans 3:10, which says,
None is righteous, no, not one.
None of us are immune to our fallen state; none of us are perfect. As a Worship Pastor there have been times when I am leading a song and thought, “wow… I really needed to hear this, say this, and live this.” There have also been times when the enemy creeps up on me and tells me that I’m not good enough, smart enough, spiritual enough, or “perfect” enough to be worshipping at all… definitely not good enough to be serving others through my leading of worship.
In Exodus 3:7-11 we see a situation where Moses has the exact same thoughts come to his mind when he is commissioned by God to carry out a task for the Kingdom. Those verses say,
Then the Lord said, “I have surely seen the affliction of my people who are in Egypt and have heard their cry because of their taskmasters. I know their sufferings, and I have come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land to a good and broad land, a land flowing with milk and honey, to the place of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites. And now, behold, the cry of the people of Israel has come to me, and I have also seen the oppression with which the Egyptians oppress them. Come, I will send you to Pharaoh that you may bring my people, the children of Israel, out of Egypt.” But Moses said to God, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the children of Israel out of Egypt?”
Moses had hesitations because he didn’t think he was “good” enough, qualified enough, or “perfect” enough. But we all know the ending to that story. You see the truth is that none of us can be or will be perfect, but we still have purpose and God still desires to use us. We just have to desire to be used.
Rick Warren said,
If God only used perfect people, nothing would get done. God will use anybody if you’re available.
So… in our imperfect, but willing, state God can still use us! How can we as “imperfect” leaders be used more effectively by God? Let’s think together.
- Protect our Hearts
The first step to being used by God is always personal cleansing. Without exception, when you find someone whom God is truly using in a prolonged way, they’ve dealt with the personal sin in their lives before God. They are pursuing holiness. Sure… we see leaders fall to sin, but if you desire to be used in a prolonged way you must handle the personal stuff first.
Although perfection is impossible to reach, we should strive to be more holy today than we were yesterday.
When the enemy sneaks back in to remind me of my failures and shortcomings I simply have to remind myself that God’s purposes for my life are not overcome by my past, or my status in the world, or my talent (what a relief). God uses small vessels, plain vessels, and even broken vessels. But… He will not use a dirty vessel, so I have to work to protect my heart and keep myself useable by God.
2 Timothy 2:21 says,
Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from these things, he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified, useful to the Master, prepared for every good work.
No runner would willingly run a race carrying a heavy bag. The Bible says in Hebrews 12:1-2,
Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.
Before our salvation many of us filled our lives full of all kinds of junk. But in order for us to be a clean usable vessel for the Father we have to empty ourselves. A bowl can’t be used for cereal if it is full of other things. We have to throw off the junk to run the race effectively… we have to empty our hearts in order to make room for the Spirit of God to do awesome things in and through us!
- Stay Grateful
Doctors refer to gratitude as the healthiest of all emotions because of its physical benefits. Studies show that grateful people experience fewer aches and pains and report feeling healthier than other people. Gratitude also improves psychological health by reducing a multitude of toxic emotions, from envy and resentment to frustration and regret. Robert Emmons, a leading researcher in the field, has conducted multiple studies on the link between gratitude and well-being. His research confirms that gratitude effectively increases happiness and reduces depression. Gratitude increases mental strength. For years, research has shown gratitude not only reduces stress, but it may also play a major role in overcoming trauma. A 2006 study published in Behavior Research and Therapy found that Vietnam War veterans with higher levels of gratitude experienced lower rates of post-traumatic stress disorder. Recognizing all that you have to be thankful for, even during the worst times, fosters resilience.
The best benefit of gratitude though, is that God uses grateful people! Gratefulness is one of the keys to longevity in ministry.
In Romans 12:11 Paul said,
Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord.
We need to constantly remind ourselves what a privilege it is to serve Jesus and His people. Never get over the things that God does in, through, and around us entirely because of His grace.
We can lead from a place of imperfection because of our gratefulness that we aren’t who we were yesterday!
- Know our Purpose
Often times when we are asked the question, “What is your purpose” we don’t think all the way back to creation… but we should. God had a master plan. Why would a all-sufficient, self-sustaining God go out of His way to create something that would rebel against Him. I would have answer that by saying… what is a better way of bringing yourself glory? God intended for us, His creation, to bring Him praise from the beginning. Isaiah 43:6-7 says,
I will say to the north, Give up, and to the south, Do not withhold; bring my sons from afar and my daughters from the end of the earth, everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made.
It is clear through Scripture that they very reason we were created is to bring God glory and praise. What greater purpose could there be?
Colossians 1:16 says,
For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him.
Isaiah 43:20-21 says,
The wild beasts will honor me, the jackals and the ostriches, for I give water in the wilderness, rivers in the desert, to give drink to my chosen people, the people whom I formed for myself that they might declare my praise.
Remember the basics. You were planned for God’s pleasure, formed for God’s family, created to become like Christ, shaped for service, and made for a mission! These aren’t just good points for teaching others or for leading a church. These are the purposes for which God made you!
One who serves with purpose can better accomplish their mission.
God’s purpose for your life is far greater than your problems. Don’t give up when it gets tough. Go to Jesus. Keep your mind on Him!
None of us are perfect. We are all in this together!
As leaders let’s strive to lead from a place of progress… a place of battle and victory against the enemy. Let’s wage war against the evil one together with our leadership!