As we begin to use our lives for ministry-whether that is paid or unpaid, full-time or part-time, a pastorate, a prayer room, or a food pantry-God often uses our initial experiences in ministry to accomplish more in us than he does in the world. So it's pretty funny to look back on the earliest days of ministry and see just how desperately I wanted to change the world, when all the while God was changing me. One of the first tests we get is the check to see if we will complete that to which he has called us.
I'm a bit of a quitter by nature. For example I have a brown belt with a black stripe on it from TaiKwonDo. That would be the very last belt you can possibly get before you get your black belt. I just stopped. Didn't want to do it anymore. So when it came time for college and the insanely difficult degree I had picked out for myself (Biomedical Engineering, 138 credits in 4 years) I felt that God was asking me to commit to finish this degree. So I did. I made a commitment to God that I would finish. And about two years into it, I realized that was a colossally stupid idea. I didn't want to be an engineer. I wanted to be a pastor.
My degree was not helping me do this and I wanted out. I wanted to go make a difference in the world or at least start a revival that would sweep across the University of Miami campus then spread to UF (leapfrogging those pagans at FSU) and then ignite every college student in the country in passionate frenzied devotion to God. But alas, none of this was to happen.
Here is what did happen. God taught me to finish what I started. And. My roommate of three and a half years who is one of my closest friends in the world came slowly, in his own time and way, to faith in Jesus. Then he started a Bible study for his family and their faith was renewed as well. And the way in which these things happened was important. It wasn't through something I organized or a title or position I held. It was through really struggling to be a Christ follower. So it wasn't about what I did. It was about what who I was and what God did.
When our service to others is based on who we are in Christ and not what we desire to do for Christ, then God can really show off. God uses those who persevere.