Working for Your Worth

August 30, 2012

by:  Staci Stallings

One trap Sowers fall into is thinking that they are working for God.  That’s a sure-way to burn-out.  Here’s why:

Worth.  What is it?

We ask, “Is it worth it?” and “What’s it worth to you?”

All of the definitions of worth speak of value–monetary or life value.

But where do we get our worth?  I think that is a central way Satan uses to get us off-track.  I also think if we were to look at the question and not just live it blindly, it could help us find some peace rather than a mountain of stress.

Let’s look first at how the world says we get our worth.  There are many ways the world says you can be “worth it.”  You can have a well-paying job or a good family; a fine home or fancy cars.  You can be a leader in your community or you can contribute to society in some meaningful way.

All of those are fine in their place, but here’s the problem:

When you get your worth from your job, what happens when you lose the job or even could potentially lose it?  At that point the job becomes your worth.  No wonder losing a job can be so devastating.  Yes, you have the financial strain, but worse the job loss signals to you that your worth is suddenly zero.

How about if your worth is tied up in being married or in a relationship.  “I am worth it because I have someone who loves me.”  Okay.  What happens when they leave or die?

Many Christians try to derive their worth from their work in the church or in ministry.  Don’t get me wrong–ministry is important, but it does not and should not define if you are worth it or not.  When people begin to look to their ministry and church work to give them self-worth, oh, do they get into trouble quickly.

And I believe right there is where Satan snags the most well-intentioned Christians. In their heads and their hearts he twines the belief that “since I’m working in the church, I’m worth something.”

However, when you are working for your worth in any context, even the in the church, you’re in trouble.  Why?  Because seeking worth through your own work can become an addiction.  At first, it feels like it takes very little ministry to experience a worth-increase.  Then, as you go, it takes more and more to experience that same sense of “I’m worth it.”

Now, I love the church, but it is one place that will absolutely ask you to give more than any human ever can.  There are always positions to fill, jobs to do, needs to be met.  You can join the choir and the ladies organization; you can pray for missions and help at the bake sale; you can volunteer to help with the youth, teach Sunday School and run VBS; you can help plant the trees and do the fundraiser for the new foyer rug.  You can read in services, usher, and be in hospitality. You can be on the finance council and on the board.

There is literally no end to the ministries you can choose to be in, and therein lies the trap.  When you are working for your worth, and to get the “high” you initially experience from gaining your self-worth through your work, you have to do more and more and more; and there are so many good things in the church that you could be doing…. Oh, it’s easy to hit burn-out while simultaneously feeling like you are not doing enough.

It’s a paradox that snags too many Christians.

So what is the answer?

Stop working for your worth!

The truth is… the Good News is… your worth is not defined by anything on this earth.  Nothing you do or don’t do can add or subtract from your inherent worth.  Why?  Because your worth doesn’t come from you or anything outside you. It comes only from God, and the worth God imbues you with is perfect and whole just as it is.  No additions or subtractions necessary.

Does that mean we don’t work?  No.  It means we work from a spirit of who we are in God, not from a spirit of trying to become something if we do enough.

Stop working for your worth.  Understand that right now, just as you are–you are worth it because God says you are.

Once you get that, your work will no longer feel like work. You can say yes when you want to and no when you don’t, and not feel the crushing guilt of letting everyone else down and knowing that now they will think you are not worth it.

The truth is:  You are priceless, just as you are, because God made you and you are a Child of the King.

Period.  End of sentence… and the beginning of a brand new life.

*~*


I Was… the Story of Amos

August 27, 2012

by:  Staci Stallings

Last time we talked about not feeling qualified to do what God is calling you to do.  Here’s another story from the Bible that brings home that point.

In the Old Testament, there is the story of a prophet sent to warn the Israelites of God’s anger about what they were doing.  The prophet’s name was Amos, and his story is contained in the Biblical book by that name.  One part of this story struck me recently as I have been contemplating what it means to be a Prophet — someone intent on sowing God Seed.

First, read the passage in which Amos has been brought before Amaziah and is about to be cast out of the region for prophesying there.

Amos answered Amaziah, “I was no prophet,
nor have I belonged to a company of prophets;
I was a shepherd and a dresser of sycamores.
The LORD took me from following the flock, and said to me,
Go, prophesy to my people Israel.”

–Amos 7:14-15

What I love about this passage is that God didn’t call the high priest or the people in the Temple.  Instead, he called a local businessman to proclaim His intentions.

I so remember a wonderful friend of mine shortly after I got immersed in God stuff.  Now we had been going to church since we were babies, but somehow we got taught that “God stuff” was for those who knew what they were reading.  It was “over our heads.”  To be fair, a lot of the God stuff was really under our feet and in our hearts–it was the way we lived and treated others.  But reading the Bible? Understanding the Bible?  That was for someone much more qualified than we were.

So she called one day when we were in our 20’s and she said, “What’re you doing?” To which I replied honestly, “Reading the Bible, and this part is fascinating.”  She got very quiet and literally said, “Oh, we’re not supposed to read the Bible like that. Don’t you think we need someone else to explain it?”

Thankfully I didn’t laugh out loud at her though I probably came very close, and in the ensuing many years, we have laughed together about that conversation many, many times.  Yet it still always kind of bothers me that we sometimes get the message that “God stuff”–understanding and wisdom–is for someone much more learned than we are.

That’s why I love this passage.  In effect, Amos is saying, “Look, dude.  This isn’t about me.  I didn’t pick this calling on my heart, God put it there. I’m just following what He told me to do.  I was a shepherd and a tree mender.  Trust me, this whole prophet thing is way outside of what I ever thought I would be doing too.  But God called me, and here I am.”

I feel like Amos a lot actually.  Who am I to be seeing insights in the Bible or in what others say?  Who am I to understand things that don’t have solid, concrete, real-world, everybody-can-see-it qualities?

I don’t know.  All I know is, like Amos, I was a simple housewife.  I was a high school teacher. I was just someone off the street, and then God called me and here I am.

If you’ve ever felt that way, know that you’re not alone!  God doesn’t call the qualified.  He qualifies the called, and just like Amos and me, you may well find yourself going, “Look, this isn’t about me. It’s about God.  He called me, and here I am.”

And in all honesty, it’s not such a bad place to be once you get used to saying, “I was…”

*~*


Not Qualified… Willing

August 23, 2012

by:  Staci Stallings

In preparing you for what you will face as a Sower of Jesus Seed, I must address the one excuse I hear time and again.  Oh, the excuse is true enough–true enough, actually to get a lot of you to give up before you start.  It goes like this:

“I’m not qualified to…”

Or the sister excuse:  “I’m just not worthy to…”

Now you can fill in the blank with whatever you’re telling yourself you can’t do that God’s calling you to–read in church, sing in the choir, teach Sunday School, minister to women in a shelter, tutor children, become involved in CASA or another child organization, be a foster parent, volunteer at your child’s school or your grandchild’s school, etc. etc. etc.

I have heard this one more than any other.

“How can I do that?  I’m not qualified.”

“They asked me to read, but I’m just not good enough.”

“I hope they don’t ask me to lead that, I just don’t feel qualified.”

Well, it’s time to put an end to this lie because here’s the truth:  God doesn’t call the qualified!

He doesn’t!  Have you read the Bible?

If it’s a book of examples, you’re in good company.

Look at Moses, out there tending his sheep as far away from other people as he could get.  The bush starts afire, and God speaks to Moses, telling him to go to Egypt.  And what does Moses do?  He starts listing all the reasons he’s not qualified!  He’s got a lisp.  He doesn’t speak very well or plainly.  Besides he killed a guy and he’s wanted for murder back in Egypt.

Or let’s take Abraham.  What did he do when God told him his destiny filled with abundance and children?  “I’m old, Lord. And my wife is old too.”  Do you hear the echoes of “I’m not qualified”?

Even Jesus doubted His ability to go through with the plan in the Garden of Gethsemane.  Why do you think He asked God to “let this cup pass Me by”?

We all feel that.  Why?  Because it’s true.

Really.

Think about it.

Are you qualified to help the God of the Universe do anything?  I mean, what kind of resume would you have to have to even get that job?

St. Paul in his message to the Ephesians from The Message Bible says it this way:

“When it came to presenting the Message to people who had no background in God’s way, I was the least qualified of any of the available Christians. God saw to it that I was equipped, but you can be sure that it had nothing to do with my natural abilities.”  –Ephesians 3:8

If St. Paul didn’t feel equipped (qualified), then we certainly won’t.  And that’s GOOD NEWS!  Because it means that God isn’t sitting around fretting because you aren’t qualified.  He equips the willing.  He doesn’t wait for the qualified.

So if you don’t feel qualified or worthy of what He’s calling you to do… rejoice!  You’re in very good company!

*~*

 


I Can’t, But He Can

August 20, 2012

by:  Staci Stallings

I believe one of the biggest challenges I’ve had in learning to be a Sower of Jesus Seed has been in the realm of stepping back from what “I’m called to do.”

You see, I used to take an idea like sowing God’s Word as something of a mandate or a requirement.  It was a burden placed on me by God, and I had better figure out how to do it and do it right, or ELSE.  I would walk away from divine encounters with other people feeling dispirited and worried.  What if I said the wrong thing?  I should have said this.  I didn’t say that.

And after awhile, I talked myself out of saying anything at all.  If I did say something, I said half of what came to mind because I was afraid to give voice to the other half.

What I am learning being a Sower of Jesus Seed, however, is that Jesus doesn’t require you to do the work.

The Scripture about the yoke captures this quite well:

Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”  –Matthew 11:29

Now you might not know much about yokes, so let me explain this a little.

In the way olden days, before tractors and farm equipment, people used oxen to plow their fields.  Because it was important to have an oxen that behaved and knew what it was doing, they would yoke or harness two oxen together–a bigger, stronger, more experienced oxen and a smaller, weaker, less experienced oxen.  Then the younger one would learn from the older one.

But here’s the thing, the older, more experienced oxen would naturally pull far more of the weight of the plow even though the two were “yoked together.”  The younger one was more along for the ride than doing any of the heavy lifting.

So Jesus is saying, “Listen, this is not all on you.  It’s on Me.  Put My yoke on you and let Me shoulder the load.  When you yoke your life to Me, you will find rest because you won’t have to do the work yourself.  I’ll do it, and you can enjoy the ride.”

Another way to say this is that Jesus will do the work THROUGH us as we willingly surrender to Him.

One of the phrases I have learned by heart over these past few years of learning to be a Sower is this, “I can’t, but He can, and He will… if I will let Him.”

I can’t.  Oh, how freeing are those words when you understand that they do no brand you a failure.  When I learned the power of being honest by being able to tell God “I can’t,” life became a whole new ballgame for me.  It was as if God was saying, “Well, I was wondering how long it was going to take you to figure that out.”

But He can.  God can do miraculous things, things you cannot even begin to imagine or even hope for.  He absolutely can, and He absolutely will if you will ever stop trying to do them for Him.  The second I let go of trying to please Him, trying to be good enough, trying to make Him happy with my effort, He stepped in.  And it’s AMAZING just to watch Him work!

And He will.  Oh, the miracles I’ve seen.  Not big ones maybe, but miracles nonetheless.  The housewife who could not stand up for herself finally realizing her cowing to every demand placed on her was doing no one any good.  Then watching her stand up and stop being a doormat for everyone.  The woman drowning in debt who is coming to the end of the tunnel into a whole new life.  The woman who was ready to quit on helping because things weren’t turning out the way she wanted.

God has worked miracles in these cases.  Changes in hearts, minds, attitudes.  Changes in outlooks and renewed hope for the future.

If I will let Him.  Maybe it sounds easy to just let God do it, but for me, it’s been incredibly hard to learn that and even harder to practice it.  It sounds so counter-intuitive.  What King shows up and says, “Here let me do that for you”?  What King kneels to wash feet, to touch lepers, to lift a paralytic from his mat?  What King?

Our King.

He can, and He will.  When you can’t.  If you will let Him.

*~*

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Change: Another Sower’s Challenge

August 16, 2012

by:  Staci Stallings

Not long ago we spoke about change and how others will try to block your change.  This is true of others who you are working with as a Sower of God’s Seed as well.

Change is difficult.  It takes time.  It takes work.

Mostly it takes willingness.

If you are not willing to change, you won’t.

In fact, I think that is the biggest sticking point many people have with God.  They think that if God is God and can do anything, then why doesn’t He just change things–to be better to be more peaceful.  After all, He’s God.  What’s He waiting for?

Well, I will tell you… He’s waiting for us to be willing.

Have you ever been so angry with someone that you weren’t willing to forgive?  Maybe you weren’t even willing to entertain the thought of forgiving the other person.  You didn’t think they deserved it.  You thought that you deserved to be angry.

That’s okay.

God will wait.

And you as a sower will have to learn to wait as well.

No matter how much you may want another person to change, only they can decide when that will happen.  You can pray.  You can gently point the right direction, but you cannot force them to change.  That is their decision alone.

And oh, is that hard!

Because you and I think if they would just X… forgive, let it go, work harder, be kinder… whatever… then things would be better.

Often when you are working with someone, change is going to look VERY slow and sometimes non-existent.  But that’s where you have to get a different perspective, a God perspective.  From God’s perspective, He has eternity to work on your heart and mine and theirs.  He’s a patient God, a loving God who will never force you or them to be anything you or they are not ready to be.

The “trick” is for YOU to BE (remember that from last time?).  Be peace even when they are not peaceful.  Be kind even when they are not.  Be generous even when they are not.  Meet them all the way over and over again until they are willing to take a step toward you.

Oh, this is hard.  I’m not going to lie to you.  Change is hard.  Those rocks are heavy.  The pavement is hard.  The thistles and weeds have thorns and you are going to get hurt. I can almost guarantee it.  But you are no longer looking to the world or to others for your peace.  You are now looking only at God.  And He will teach you how, how to be peaceful in the midst of turmoil, how to be merciful in the face of “they don’t deserve that,” how to love unconditionally… in all circumstances… no matter what.  He’s teaching YOU as much as He’s teaching THEM.

Know that going in, and determine that this soul is worth your effort, your patience, your time, your belief in them… because Jesus did all of that for you… and more. In fact, that’s ultimately what Jesus did for us.  He showed us how to be a Sower of God Seeds into souls by being the First Sower.  His love changed things–in personal lives and in the world.  It still does in the hands of Sowers who know that change is not easy but it’s always worth it.

*~*

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August 16

Staci’s “Amazing!” novel:

To Protect & Serve

“Reading To Protect & Serve, I’m taken away to another world, a world I want to be a part of and never leave. Staci’s characters are real with real everyday problems. I love that.

Oh, and the firemen in this story, they’re smokin’ hot! Especially the hero!”

–Debra, Amazon Reviewer

When control freak Lisa Matheson falls for handsome but shy firefighter, Jeff Taylor, it’s possible that life might just be going her way for a change. The only problem is she can’t control Jeff or the death wish he seems to have…

Available as a free download from Amazon!

Click here to get your Free Kindle Copy TODAY!

Click here to get a free Kindle App to read “To Protect & Serve” on your computer.


FREE EBOOK! Two Days ONLY!

August 15, 2012

FREE ON KINDLE TWO DAYS ONLY!

August 15 & 16

Staci’s “Amazing!” novel:

To Protect & Serve

“Reading To Protect & Serve, I’m taken away to another world, a world I want to be a part of and never leave. Staci’s characters are real with real everyday problems. I love that.

Oh, and the firemen in this story, they’re smokin’ hot! Especially the hero!”

–Debra, Amazon Reviewer

When control freak Lisa Matheson falls for handsome but shy firefighter, Jeff Taylor, it’s possible that life might just be going her way for a change. The only problem is she can’t control Jeff or the death wish he seems to have…

Available as a free download from Amazon!

Click here to get your Free Kindle Copy TODAY!

Click here to get a free Kindle App to read “To Protect & Serve” on your computer.

BE SURE TO TELL A FRIEND!


Being: The Sower’s Greatest Challenge

August 13, 2012

by:  Staci Stallings

As you begin to sow Jesus Seeds in to lives around you, you will quickly come up against one of the biggest challenges of your life.

It’s kind of hard to put into words, but you will recognize it instantly.

It is summed up in two words being vs. not.

For example, let’s say that you are taking this whole Jesus Seed Sower to heart.  You are determined to sow some Jesus seed at work, let’s say.  Now at work there is a lot of strife–company strife, personal strife, and internal strife.  The company strife is due to pressures put on the company to remain competitive, to bring in new business, to serve current customers well, etc.  Personal strife might be the drama between co-workers.  You know the kind… this one doesn’t like that one, the other one did something three months ago that the other one is still mad about.

Then there’s internal strife–that’s the strife you carry around about yourself and your job performance, etc.

It can make for a very stressful situation.

However, you’ve decided to be a Sower.  So what to do?

The first thing is to learn to BE in yourself what you are not seeing in the world around you.  There is a very old song.  It says, “Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with me.”  That’s great advice.  If you are not at peace, the situation can not be at peace.  And peace can’t start with the situation (okay, it can but it almost never does).  YOU have to BE the peace that you want to see.

It’s like when Jesus said, “These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33

We, as Sowers, have to learn to take Jesus into the situation with us and be at peace in Him even when there is no peace in the situation.

It’s like the other day.  I was editing for a friend of mine who was freaking out over a major deadline.  Now, I knew she was going to meet the deadline with ease (she did), but she didn’t know that.  I had agreed to edit for her and had been working on the manuscript for several days.  I told her I had made a goal of doing 50 pages a day, which I knew would have the book to her in plenty of time.

Then life stepped in.  One Wednesday everything conspired against me to get those 50 pages done.  It was nearly 10 p.m. when I finally got to the computer to work.  I got 25 pages done, and that was it.  So I sent her those pages and told her I would edit more the next day.

Now I didn’t know this until this afternoon, but she said, “You know, I watched you, and you didn’t freak out.  You didn’t make an excuse or step all over yourself to apologize.  You just said, ‘This is what happened.  I will get more to you tomorrow.  I was really inspired by that because you’re just at peace with whatever happens. You don’t freak out and make a huge deal out of it.  You just do your best and trust that that’s good enough.”

I didn’t know I was being watched. :)  But I do believe by BEING at peace and living at peace, I can show others how to do that much better than just telling them they should be at peace.

Oh, I’m not going to say it’s easy.  But you either are BEING or you’re NOT.  You’re either being at peace or you’re not.  You’re either BEING merciful or you’re NOT.  You’re either BEING kind or you’re NOT.

If you’re not, then as a Sower, you need to learn how to BE… grace-filled, forgiving, hopeful, kind, peaceful, loving, joyful…

And the way you learn that is to plant a lot of Jesus Seeds in your own life and nurture them.  Pray.  Go to church.  Have a conversation with God.  Put things in His hands.  Trust.

When you do that, you will BE more than you will NOT.  And people will begin to take notice and slowly but surely as you conquer this greatest of challenges, your world will begin to change.

*~*

COMING Wednesday & Thursday, AUG. 15 & 16…

FREE ON KINDLE TWO DAYS ONLY!

August 15 & 16

Staci’s “Amazing!” novel:

To Protect & Serve

 “Reading To Protect & Serve, I’m taken away to another world, a world I want to be a part of and never leave. Staci’s characters are real with real everyday problems. I love that.

Oh, and the firemen in this story, they’re smokin’ hot! Especially the hero!”

–Debra, Amazon Reviewer

When control freak Lisa Matheson falls for handsome but shy firefighter, Jeff Taylor, it’s possible that life might just be going her way for a change. The only problem is she can’t control Jeff or the death wish he seems to have…

Will be Available as a free download from Amazon!

 Watch for more on Wednesday!

 


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