There are no great things, only small things with great love.

-Mother Teresa

         

Back some years ago when I was what I now consider a kid youth pastor at the not so ripe age of twenty-one we had a youngster in our youth group who was as promising a young man as you’d ever meet.  John (we’ll call him) was class president at a well-known high school in our community and was as keen and smart as they come—his capacity and energy for leadership was unparalleled.  John was gifted and well liked—he was what you might call a go-getter—a driven individual to say the least.  He was also a multisport athlete and a tremendous communicator as well—he was charismatic, electric, and like a magnet when it came to his occasional talks I’d ask him to give to the youth group.  I enlisted John as my point man when we decided it was time to give world missions a whirl and he did a better job than I would have been able to do in collecting and rallying a core group of young people within our group who would eventually give up their paper-route money and trade it in for annual summer trips to remote villages and major cities all over the globe to share the gospel of grace. 

Once John brought me a list of one-hundred goals he’d set for himself that he had thoughtfully compiled for the foreseeable short-term future—he wanted me to look it over and give him my opinion—as he was about to embark upon his senior year.  After taking it home and sharing it with my wife I told him I thought maybe it was asking a bit much of himself—I mean short of flying to the moon in a kayak he had some pretty lofty goals.  Hey, we are told to shoot for the stars after all—and I suppose goals are fine and dandy.  But you have to ask—are the stars we shoot for the stars God has for us—or is the target we are aiming for about us when you get down to it? 

 When you tell God you’ll do something, do it—now.  God takes no pleasure in foolish gabble. Vow it, then do it.  Far better not to vow in the first place than to vow and not pay up. (Ecclesiastes 5:4-5, The Message Bible)

After I exited full-time ministry some years ago now, I got a call shortly thereafter one evening while sitting down for dinner with my family.  The call was concerning John and the news was grim—John had hung himself in his basement.  A life of promise down the drain.  To this day I wonder if the need for approval of others and a hunger to live up to too lofty of standards might have been John’s undoing. 

We serve a big God—but we must remember we aren’t him—and to put any kind of pressure on ourselves to attempt to play God might be what has a good many of us feeling like we could go insane any minute now.  Wouldn’t it a better idea to use the energy we do possess to trust and inquire of God as to what he might have for us instead of coming up with a list of promises to him, ourselves, and others that is a mile long? 

It might be just one thing God has for us to do—but if it’s the one thing God has for us to do, nothing could be more important.

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