John 3:30 -He must increase, but I must decrease. NKJV
In my previous blog, I used this same scripture to share the context of how and why John the Baptist used this phrase. For him, it was the reality of his situation, the end of his ministry. But it has become a cliche, used in the body to express humility. And again, I think it is flawed.
I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made…Psalm 139:14
David said to the Father in a time of worship that he recognized that he was fearfully and wonderfully made. In the Young’s Literal translation it reads like this:
I confess Thee, because that [with] wonders I have been distinguished.
God took care in putting us together. To Him, we are special. He made us as different from each other as we can be. Our fingerprints are ours alone. Even our teeth have their own signature. And while we may share DNA with other people, we are still different. And it’s a beautiful thing!
So now, here’s my point: Why would God gift us to do different things in the kingdom, make us all different, and then not expect that individuality to shine through when He uses us? Again, I know the sentiment behind the phrase but it is scripturally misleading in how and why God chooses and uses us.
Let’s look at Biblical examples:
Galatians 2:8 – (for He who worked effectively in Peter for the apostleship to the circumcised also worked effectively in me toward the Gentiles), NKJV
In this verse, Paul makes it clear that Peter was sent to the Jews and he was sent to the Gentiles. Both of these men were Jewish, but Paul was a Jewish scholar. It would seem that Paul was more qualified to minister to the Jews, but it was Peter who was sent to them.
We know from the scriptures that Peter was Jewish to the core. When God gave him the vision on the rooftop, and told him to eat of the unclean animals, even though it was God, Peter was still refusing to eat. His strict ways of Judaism made him the perfect candidate to go to the Jews. His life, upbringing, and biases, equipped him to deal with those of his fellow Jews. He didn’t decrease in who he was to increase in what God had for him. He just allowed God to use him, with all of his weaknesses and strengths, to fulfill the call on his life.
Paul on the other hand, was perfect for the Gentiles. He was a Roman citizen from his birth. He was a Jew from his birth. He was scholarly and understood both cultures well. But he was passionate about the law. When Jesus met him on the road to Damascus, his life was forever changed. The same passion he used to persecute the church, he used to build it. He didn’t ask to decrease from being who he was. All of him, being used by all of the Holy Spirit, caused the gospel to spread, churches to be planted, and him writing most of the New Testament.
Again, I know what is meant by using this phrase. We want people to see Jesus, and not us. Hopefully! But why can’t they see Jesus in us? What is so wrong with who we are, that we feel a need to say that we want to disappear while the Spirit take over? Or have we so much religious jargon in our churches, that we don’t bother thinking about what we are saying?
Let’s talk plain! I have some friends who can sing! Had they met the same talent managers that Whitney Houston met, they’d be famous! I mean, they can sing. And when they get up and say this, (all of You God and none of me), it’s like, really? None of you? You were asked to sing because you have a beautiful voice. If it didn’t matter to God or the audience, we’d ask somebody who could “only make a joyful noise”! No! We ask the gifted and the talented to sing because we enjoy listening to them sing. And when they are anointed, they sound even better!
When I tune into Jesse DuPlantiss, or Bill Winston, or any minister for that fact, I am listening to the individual as much as I am listening to the Spirit of God. There is no way Jesse is going to preach without telling a joke. No way! So when I listen to him I understand that’s the way God uses him to minister to people. He has a way of making an audience laugh. Sometimes after a hard day, or many trials, a good laugh goes a long way! There is no way Bill Winston is going to minister without sharing about kingdom living. It’s just what he does! He and Jesse are both powerful men of God (whether you like them or not) and yet they are so different. And so are their assignments. And yet they are both preachers, being used by the Holy Spirit, with their own distinct personalities and ways of doing it.
This is true for every pastor, minister, singer, and person in the Body. When God uses us, He wants to use us. He’s not looking for cookie cutter ministers, singers, musicians, or teachers. He wants to use us in our own unique way.
When my niece was ministering, I felt like we were just having one of our normal conversations. She was just as down to earth in her presentation: no airs, no pretentiousness. She got up and shared an encouraging word as a person who is comfortable in her own skin. And yet, she still felt like she didn’t want people to see her, but she wanted them to see Jesus! Glad to hear it! It’s admirable. But I saw both her and Jesus, and I heard them both! And it was all good! I still hear her saying, “Just keep swimming!” But I heard the Spirit of God saying, “Don’t ever give up!” God used her where she was at, as she was, and I know the people were blessed and encouraged!
When you are asked to do something for God, just remember: God is saying that He is ready to use you! He’s not asking you to decrease, or stop being you, so that He can increase. You should not get up and rely on you, and your abilities alone, but in Him and His abilities alone! That’s the right attitude! But it’s still you, and He wants to operate through you! So step forward in faith and say, “Use me, Lord; and then believe that He wants to! Wonderful Jesus!