The more I observe life and the lives of others and – when I am brave enough for self-observation – my own life, the more I believe that we are what we are by the force of our own nature, much more than any nurture we have received. Plenty of people have risen above their surroundings, their upbringing, their disadvantages to achieve greatness in some meaningful endeavor, but name the ones who have risen above their own innate tendencies.
Even regeneration (that is, salvation) does not change the essential essence of you. Your DNA remains intact. If you were lazy before you met Christ, you are probably now a lazy Christian. If you were dull-witted then, you are likely still drab.
I am certainly not suggesting limitations on salvation, so drop your stones. Nor am I saying that God cannot or will not change a person in a dramatic fashion.
I AM saying that we all have propensities. We have tendencies. Some are selfless by nature; others are selfish. Some are innately intelligent; others have to work hard to absorb every scrap of new information. Some burst with energy; others seek the shade and a soft place to land.
The worker bees need something to do.
The dreamers need something to fire their imagination.
The achievers need something to accomplish (which is not the same as something to do.)
Those who are not driven to work, dream or accomplish need something to occupy their minds and use up their time — they need to be entertained.
When thinking about these things, the easiest thing in the world is to recognize tendencies in others. The most difficult thing is to be honest with yourself. I believe, however, that the only way to be the best you can be and do the best you can do in this world is to really get to know yourself:
- Own your faults.
- Recognize your weaknesses.
- Understand your own essential nature.
- Identify your strengths.
Only then can you maximize your potential.
It is possible – though quite rare – for a person to become greater than the sum of his or her parts. While I am tempted to see each of us as a sort of self-fulfilling prophecy, each equipped with a kind of governor that allows us to go this far and no farther, observation and faith tell me that just isn’t so.
Otherwise, how would you explain George W. Bush? Or Jerry Jones? Or (insert almost any rapper’s name here)?
The beautiful thing about what God wants from you is this: He just wants what you are, what you have, what you can (by His grace) do. Nothing more.
If you are like me, tortured soul, what you are may never be enough to satisfy yourself, but it is more than enough for your God.
In addressing a missions offering commitment made by the Corinthians, I think Paul hit on a principle that is applicable here:
Now you should finish what you started. Let the eagerness you showed in the beginning be matched now by your giving. Give in proportion to what you have. Whatever you give is acceptable if you give it eagerly. And give according to what you have, not what you don’t have. 2 Corinthians 8:11,12
God runs the ultimate lemonade stand. Even the best and the brightest of us bring him lemons from the weed-strewn orchards of our lives…and He makes lemonade.
Your nature is flawed; His is flawless.
Your strength is weak; Even His weakness is strength.
Your resources are limited; His are limitless.
Give Him what you have and what you are and see what He does.
Or, you could just pick up the remote and see what’s on.