By Megan Rawlings
“I don’t feel like God can effectively use me because I don’t have an amazing testimony.”
I remember saying this like it was yesterday. I was in Bible college, and the number of stories people told of how they came to meet Jesus despite extenuating circumstances left me feeling “less than.”
I was born and raised in the church and, frankly, I felt my story was boring compared to others. Those who were freed from addiction were able to minister to addicts in a way I could not. Those born into situations without clean water or adequate food could show the saving grace of Jesus.
I, on the other hand, was upper-middle class most of my life and always knew Jesus. I felt like a poor example of life change when I accepted Christ. At that point, in college, I contemplated doing something wild so I could have a compelling testimony to make God look good.
What arrogance! First, to think my story could not be used for God’s glory was just silly. Second, I completely forgot the message of the cross, that I am a wicked sinner in need of a loving God. Just because my sins did not carry the weight of some others did not make them any less costly while Christ hung on the cross. Finally, God can accomplish his good work and extend his saving grave without me. But the beauty of it is, God wants me and invites me to participate in his ministry. He allows me to use my gifts, passions, and, yes, even my story in his kingdom. God never called on one of his own to sin to make himself look better. It simply wouldn’t work. After I came to this realization, I had to extend a good deal of grace toward myself. So, I would like others to learn from my mistakes.
YOUR STORY DOESN’T SAVE PEOPLE; JESUS DOES
The experience I just shared helped teach me it is not my story that moves people to salvation. Rather, it is Jesus’ story. God became like us to remove our sin, which is the one thing we cannot seem to purge from ourselves. My testimony, as well as others’, is just a cherry on top. I can show others what God has done for me, but without knowing his gospel message, my testimony is weak and useless.
It is a great relief to know the salvation of others isn’t dependent on my ability to save them. To clarify, this does not mean I am not responsible for carrying out the Great Commission. It does mean that when I am obedient to God’s commands, he will take care of the rest. It is hard to mess up sharing the gospel. God used a donkey to deliver a message, after all. That means he can use any creature, including me.
No matter who we were before coming to Jesus, remember that God can and will use us. We must keep just one simple thing in mind.
GIVE GRACE TO YOURSELF
I constantly teach the women I mentor that we must give ourselves grace. Grace when we mess up and encouragement to try again. Staying stuck on a moment in history is unhealthy. Replaying scenarios repeatedly in our heads when there is nothing we can do to fix it is not beneficial. This is a sign we are too concerned with how others see us, which runs counter to Galatians 1:10, and likely indicates we take ourselves too seriously. We are not powerful enough to mess up the Holy Spirit. Take comfort in that and accept some grace. I promise, 99 times out of 100 the other person is not stuck in the same moment that we are obsessing over.
Reading Scripture is an easy place to start. I encourage everyone to read the book of Philippians. Chapter 2 begins like this:
Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others (Philippians 2:1-4).
When we put others first and look to their interests, we automatically stop thinking so highly (or frequently) about ourselves.