“Now the body is not made up of one part but of many. If the foot should say, ‘Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason cease to be part of the body. And if the ear should say, ‘Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,’ it would not for that reason cease to be part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? But in fact God has arranged the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be.” 1 Corinthians 12:14-18
I don’t know about you, but I am so good at only seeing my flaws and failures. I am quick to compare myself with others and put myself down. I look at my personality and compare it to others and think, “I’ll never be successful until I’m more like them.”
I was struggling with this a lot when Kevin and I were working at the East Valley campus of CCV (Christ’s Church of the Valley). I love all the staff at that campus dearly, but the majority of them are very different from me. The majority of them are rational, tell-it-like-it-is type people. They aren’t going to beat around the bush. They are confident.
All so opposite of me! I’m a people-pleaser, HARDCORE. Always afraid of hurting someone’s feelings or saying something they don’t want to hear. I don’t like conflict. I’m passive, sometimes to the extreme of letting people overstep boundaries. I beat around the bush. And definitely not confident…which is why I couldn’t help but compare myself to them!
I couldn’t help but think, “Look at these people who are so opposite of me, and so good and successful at what they do. How will I ever be successful by just being me? Where does a person like me fit-in in ministry?”
I felt so down on myself. Do you ever have these types of thoughts?
This week’s devotion is for people like you and me. This is God’s reminder that he made you to be you.
In this passage in Corinthians, Paul is comparing the church to a body…specifically the body of Jesus Christ. He actually uses a metaphor saying the church is the “body of Christ” (v.27). Just like a human body has many parts, so does the church.
Now imagine a human body (…with body parts that can think for themselves…). The foot, which is so far down, gets covered up all day long, and often smells bad, looks up and sees the hand. The foot thinks to itself, “Man, I am so useless. Look at that hand up there. It grabs for things, types up papers, texts friends and family, and brings food to the mouth. What do I ever do? I don’t belong here. I’m nothing.”
But of course, just because the foot feels useless compared to the hand doesn’t mean it doesn’t belong! How else would we stand?!
In the same way, you, though you may feel useless to God, are of great value to his plan for the world. Just as you are.
I love the way Jonny Diaz puts it in his song “More Beautiful You”: “You were made to fill a purpose that only you can do.” Or this quote, “You will never influence the world by trying to be just like it.”
The truth is, God didn’t make you to be like Suzie Smith or that really successful coworker or that person you know who just seems perfect. God made you to be you. He has a plan for your life, when you live it as you, not as someone else.
And God loves you for you! You are special. You are wanted. You are important to him. We must remember these truths anytime the temptation to compare ourselves to others sneaks in. It’s easier to listen to the lies and insecurities about ourselves but it takes courage to dare to be who God created us to be.
So whether you are a hand, foot, eye, nose, arm, stomach, or liver in the body of Christ, there is a place for you. And if we are ever going to win others to Christ, the church needs you to fill the role you were made to fill. Instead of trying to be like others, God desires you to be the best you possible.
And what does that look like, exactly? That means that we look like Christ, no matter what part of the body we are.
So for me, instead of comparing myself to the staff at East Valley, I should focus on being the best version of me. This doesn’t mean I pretend I’m perfect. I do have to be honest with myself and note areas in my life I need to work on. For example, my tendency of extreme people-pleasing and my fear of saying no to others are things I’m going to have to cut out of my life if I want to be successful. But I should also view myself in a healthy way, the way that God sees me. I should note my strengths and abilities and work on honing those.
We waste so much of our lives when we strive to be someone we’re not. This week, quit the comparison game and spend more time focusing on improving your strengths rather than feeling overwhelmed with your weaknesses. And find peace in the beauty of this verse: “But in fact God has arranged the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be.”
Challenges for this week:
1. Write out a list of your strengths. One great resource to help you is the Strengths Test. You can take this test online for free!! It is a valuable tool to help you discover the things you are good at and ideas on how to use those skills.
2. We all know our flaws. This week instead of thinking about a flaw you want to improve, spend effort on using a strength you already have. Pick one tangible way you can use the gifts, skills, or personality God has given you in order to help others.
3. Pray that God will show you how he could use you in the church or ministering to others. Be open to the opportunities he provides. Perhaps you will feel him nudging you to follow through with challenges 1 or 2.
Further Reading: Psalm 139