Quitting What You're Good At
How do we know when it's time to move on from a position, job, ministry, or even a hobby--especially when we know it's a gift/talent that God has given us? Shouldn't we be serving the Lord using all our strengths? Shouldn't we be working within our passions and natural gifts to best steward our lives for the Kingdom?
Yes, and no.
While God is absolutely glorified when we use our strengths to serve Him, His strength within us is MOST evident when we're functioning in our weaknesses.
2 Corinthians 12:8-10, NLT
8 Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away. 9 Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. 10 That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
While this scripture does talk about suffering for Christ through trials and persecutions as Paul truly did, it also points to the truth that we CAN BOAST in our weaknesses! In doing so we are highlighting the transformative power of Christ within us! HE is the one doing the work. He is the one helping us to become a patient and gentle mom after struggling with anger, or helping us be gracious and loving after decades of criticism and judgment. God's power and glory can be exalted through us embracing our weaknesses. There's a time to walk forward serving in our strengths, and there's a time to trust God and maybe turn down a path of weakness so that we can grow more through His strength.
I'm Not __________ Enough To ______________
When people find out that I homeschool I often hear this comment a lot, "I'm not patient enough to homeschool my kids." To which I often respond, "me neither!" Which is usually received as a weird and kind of hilarious response. But in that moment I've realized that people are assuming that I am somehow serving in my strengths--that I'm walking down the career path that I'm gifted in and that it is easy for me. This is simply not true. I didn't really know anything about homeschooling until several years ago! It is by God's grace alone that I have grown a little bit each year into a stronger teacher with more patience, grace, and wisdom to lead and train up my children. There are other avenues I could have taken in life that would have much less conflict, pain, and unveiling of my weaknesses. But I KNOW God has me in this position as a homeschool mom because I truly have to lean on Him daily for strength and wisdom.
Traversing this calling within so many of my weaknesses I've gotten to see God show up to bless me and my family with what we need during hard times--encouraging calls from friends when I'm ready to quit, a community that resources us and cheers us on, tools and next steps from those that have gone before me down this road, and supernatural strength from God when I least expect it and am ready to quit. I'm so thankful that I had so many godly women encouraging me to homeschool even when I felt like I was doing MORE DAMAGE to my kids by them seeing my humanness and struggles 24/7. I'm so thankful for the strength to make the choice to homeschool even after I argued with God that this would NOT be the best use of the gifts He's given me and I could actually be more affective outside the home bringing Him glory. God has shown me that THIS is where He wants me--even on days when I feel otherwise. I can see His plan now, and how He is changing me and my children into His likeness through me embracing serving in my weaknesses.
You fill in the blank--what do you feel like you "should" do but don't feel strong enough to chase after? Sometimes God wants us to step into areas where we feel completely inadequate because He wants to grow us into a greater likeness of His image, and show off HIS strength through our weakness.
Some Gifts Are Seasonal
I remember just a few years ago sleeping over at my parent's neighbor's house. My parent's house was packed full with family for the holidays, so their next door neighbors generously offered a nice suite for us to sleep in so we could all have a bed. The next morning I woke up to someone beautifully playing Scott Joplin on their baby grand piano downstairs and I completely lost it. I didn't know what was happening as I started crying hard and feeling a sense of utter loss. As my sweet husband looked and me and probably thought, "oh yay, Megan's hormonal again," the words that came out of my mouth grieved me. "I don't even know that person anymore!" You see, I had been classically trained in piano from a young age. I participated in competitions, recitals, played in my own senior recital (which is basically playing a dozen songs on stage by yourself), toured in college with a music group that I had to audition to get into, and eventually taught piano for almost a decade. Where is that girl?! What happened to her?! I had such a talent and gift teaching that was challenged, encouraged, and praised throughout the years. Then somehow throughout the years I became the person that people were surprised to find out was even musical!
When we walked next door back to my parent's house that morning I briefly told my mom of what had just happened. She did her sweet mama thing and just told me, "it's just a different season you're in. She's still in there." While part of my heart misses tickling the ivory in such a skilled and hard earned way, I think part of me also misses the identity that I once had surrounding it. I was front and center stage--and now God has me in a season of serving "behind the scenes" teaching and training my children where there are no gold stars, shiny grades, or accolades from others. While I am so thankful for how God has grown me and blessed our family in numerous ways through this homeschooling venture, I have had to grieve other "Megans" that have been laid to rest. There was a time when I knew I was supposed to teach piano and help bring more income into our home--but that time is not now. God's given me the peace to put this gift on "pause" and to focus on another calling He has for me. Some days I know it would be easier to send my kids to public school, teach piano all day, and bring in a second income for our family while building discipling relationships with my piano students. But "easy" is not what God wants for us. He wants us to be fully surrendered to Him and His ways--and though it may be full of trials, being where GOD wants you, will ALWAYS be better than where you think you logically should be.
God Orchestrates It All
When I became pregnant with my first child I really wanted to keep working. I thought that being a full-time stay at home mom after giving birth would be too boring and I honestly loved my job. Fast forward to my baby being a few months old and my heart had completely changed! I wanted nothing more than to snuggle her and raise her every moment of every day. Looking back though, I only quit "getting paid" to work in my gifts. I was actually STILL WORKING in my gifts--just for free! I had left a full-time ministry job to stay home--yet God was still using me in ministry and honestly exploding several things within it. Through leading lifegroups, discipleship relationships, and serving and connecting women I was still getting to delight in my heart's passions. Though I've had to let go of several opportunities and responsibilities, God has surprised me with how He has orchestrated my life to operate in my weaknesses (to lean on Him) AND in my strengths! Trusting Him when I knew it was time to leave a workplace, part-time job, ministry, and even hobbies has shown me that He always knows best. He may just be wanting me to let go for a season. He may plan to do away with that area of my life entirely, but not without revealing what HE has in store for me and my family. I've learned that I can trust Him to provide the energy, strength, and even resources I need for the call He's sent me to.
Seasons Within Weaknesses Can Transform Weaknesses Into Strengths
I do not look like anything like the person I was a decade ago--praise God! While I have spent time sharpening my strengths, I've been in a position of depending on the Lord to really show up in my weaknesses. I know that He has because I now have NEW weaknesses. When I started homeschooling more than seven years ago I struggled with perfectionism, a shorter temper, and would not be described as the most patient mom. Am I perfect in these areas today? Nope! But rather than these weaknesses being huge boulders in my path, they've become an occasional pebble in my shoe--a struggle that might rear its head every so often. Surrendering to this lifestyle plan has literally impacted every fiber of my being. How I run our household, my character traits, how we minister and serve others more freely, and how I can offer hope and encouragement to women I see struggling where I once was. Praise God for such trials that have developed so much persistence and endurance in my spirit. It's ALL because of Christ in me that I am where I am. Yes, I've worked hard to grow--but it's the Lord that's produced the harvest!
It is not wrong to pursue a life and career sharpening your strengths! Don't get me wrong. But, sometimes, there's a journey to be had with the Lord in your weaknesses. A humbling and dependence on Him--not on your own strength or gifts, but a surrender and reliance upon the living God to provide you with strength and wisdom for the task He's called you to. The Bible is full of stories of people being used by God in their weaknesses, so we can know that we are in good company when He calls us to a season of being sharpened in this way.