The more I see God work in the lives of our mentees, mentors, and staff; the more I realize how little I really bring to the table. I want to take some credit for their growth, but I cannot. Every time I see growth, I am tempted to think, “They came to that realization because of what I said!” Yet, other questions arise, “What lead you to say that?” or “How did you come to know that?”
My experience is similar to Charles Spurgeon when he recounts his experience of conversion in “A Defense of Calvinism,” (It is a great article, regardless of your theological background. You can find it here: http://www.spurgeon.org/calvinis.htm).
Every time he would attempt to take credit for his own conversion, he was always pointed back to God and His sovereign grace. Similarly, every time I am tempted to take credit and boast in my own power to change others, I am reminded of the power of God. Only He can really change people. He gave all of my gifts to me. There is no separation between so-called natural ability and God-given ability. Are not all of our abilities given to us by The Creator?
Some will suggest that my cultivation of my skills through learning and practice should be praised in me. Again, I am always pointed back to God’s work. He empowers my practice and use of my gifts. The Holy Spirit gives us gifts apart from our recognized abilities (such as healing, tongues, prophecy…) to be used at certain times, however; He also empowers us in the use of our intrinsic abilities.
Therefore, God has given us all our gifts and empowers their use. Is this in tension with God’s call for obedience? No, for God even empowers our obedience.
I am reminded of a story from my studies at the Art Institute. A project was due and some students had not finished. Instead of facing the professor, they decided to skip class. The professor told us this story. “When I was working for a design firm, we had a major presentation to a large client. We were excited to pitch our ideas and spent much time on our boards and presentation materials. When we got to their office, our hearts sank. We had forgotten our presentation materials. It was too late to run back and get them so we had a choice: Run and hide, or go into the presentation anyway. We chose to present anyway.”
He continued to say that the client respected that they still attended the meeting and thanks to some great salesmanship; they landed the contract. All because they showed up! The same can be said for my experience with mentees. I would worry that I had not prayed or prepared enough. Sometimes, I just didn’t want to go.
Almost every time, I showed up… and that was enough. I have never regretted showing up, but have always regretted not going. God grants recall of how he has helped me, brings up Scripture that will speak to them, and will empower even casual conversation to bring healing.
There are times when we all fear that we are not gifted enough, experienced enough, or have nothing to say that will help those we know. Just show up! Put your arm around your friend, family member or whoever, and let them know you are there for them. Our God is powerful enough to empower it all.