When Accomplishment isn’t the Highest Call
Updated: Jan 28
I am a doer of things. I’m all about the to-do lists, the completion of tasks, the self-satisfaction of being capable, and the sense of fulfillment I get when I’ve accomplished a difficult task.
This is one of my biggest weaknesses. My peace is all wrapped up in whether or not I can get things done. I’ve recognized this before; I think it’s one of those things you have to realize in different areas separately before you can get past it in each.
For instance, I learned at some point that how I felt about my relationship with God seemed to be all tangled up with how I was feeling about myself at any given point. I wasn’t really putting my trust in God, but in myself and my own capabilities.
Now, I’m recognizing the same truth, but in my day-to-day life. My satisfaction with a
day was never full if I had not accomplished a certain amount of tasks or made the progress I felt I should.
“My Utmost for His Highest” kicked me right in the to-do list yesterday. In Luke 10, the disciples were excited about the miracles they were able to do. Jesus says, “Nevertheless, do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.”
Oswald Chambers goes on to say, “Jesus Christ says, in effect, ‘Don’t rejoice in successful service, but rejoice because you are rightly related to me.’ The snare in Christian work is to rejoice in successful service, to rejoice in the fact that God has used you….. The tendency today is to put the emphasis on service. Beware of the people who make usefulness their ground of appeal. If you make usefulness the test, then Jesus Christ was the greatest failure that ever lived.”
All God wants to do through us must be preceded by Him being in us…not the other way around. It is human nature to do, do, do rather than just be. Be in Christ. Abide in Him.
He is the vine; we are the branches. The branches don’t produce fruit by working really hard at it. They produce fruit by maintaining their source of nourishment; staying connected to the vine. If we are connected to Him, the usefulness will come, but that should never be our concern.
It is interesting to me that further down in Luke 10, we come to the seemingly unrelated story of Mary and Martha. Mary, sitting at Jesus’ feet, choosing the “good portion,” abiding in Christ, while Martha bustled about trying to be useful. New people, new context, same lesson. “See, I want you to be WITH me – not worried about what kind of work you can do FOR me.”
The most extraordinary fulfillment of our usefulness will come after we sit at his feet for hours, days, years. It will be a natural outpouring, not a chore. We should never stress over whether we can make it happen, whether we can accomplish enough, whether we’ll be able to get it all done.
Our culture values this – the hustling to get visible rewards from our efforts – and even in Christian circles, I think we’ve lost so much of the value of sitting at His feet. We’re so busy seeking the accomplishment and results, we’ve disconnected from the source.
The exercise of sitting at His feet is the most useful thing we can ever do. It will flood over into every tiny crevice of our lives…but not if that’s our end. Relationship must be our end – connection to the vine. Only in that can
our lives bear lasting fruit.
Usefulness has become my god and, also, my master. I am slowly learning how to look back at Jesus’ face and abide in Him – how to admit and re-learn that “when I am weak, He is strong.”
Even when I cannot accomplish, He can, if I am connected to Him.
Interested in updates on my bookish wanderings and adventures?
You'll get the first chapter of each of my books free (even my work-in-progress!)