“Try not to become a man of success, but rather try to become a man of value.” — Albert Einstein
One of the greatest lessons God has taught me in my leadership journey is that He’s interested in developing all of me — not just what I perceive to be my gifting, talents or dreams. I’ve been quite narrow-minded in this understanding, and at times, I’ve viewed my gifting as the overarching definition of who I am. By placing my sole value in what I did, I severely underestimated what was in my hand when it didn’t look like what was in my heart. But God took my tangled thinking and unraveled it all through a vision of nothing else but a slice of cake. I know, isn’t it funny, and isn’t it just like God to use a simple metaphor to reveal a profound life lesson?
You see, this slice of cake represented what I felt God had called me to do on this earth as a creative. The slice symbolised my talents, my greatest dreams and the way I love to serve Him most. But just when I thought He was going to give me that cake, that dream, the slice got taken away.
I simply couldn’t understand it. I had been a faithful steward, and at the time, I thought that the more faithful I was, the more opportunity God would give me. I was resilient, determined to remain through the seasons, but I hadn’t realised just how much I’d allowed this one thing to consume my thoughts. I had relied on the success of my “good works” to find favour with God and man. But when favour and opportunities to use my gifting didn’t follow, my value took a hit, and then, in this self-consumed state, comparison found ample opportunity to make a muddied mess of my emotions. Comparison birthed confusion, doubt, heartache, frustration — ugly, rotten fruit, all of which grew because I lived connected to the flesh as opposed to the Vine, fixated on the dream and not the Dream-Giver.
Thankfully, God didn’t allow me to wallow in futile thinking. He showed me that He didn’t want me to be content with just one slice because He intended to give me the entire cake. You see, the whole cake represented the rest of who He made me to be — my other abilities, intellect, integrity and character — WHO I am, not just what I do. Though the slice of cake was a gift from Him, He knew I’d be far too satisfied if He gave me that one slice without showing me the rest of what He intended to develop in me. I was thinking too small, and God cared too much to let me remain incomplete and wounded. He wanted me to be a whole vessel, heart-set on her Creator.
Perhaps sometimes God closes certain doors in our lives or delays their opening because He is developing other parts of us, parts that are pivotal to us being everything He’s called us to be.
I’m grateful that He doesn’t give us what we want, when we want, like spoiled children. If He did, we would never learn or grow. We would never experience the reliability of His character. Our God cares about the whole cake — our value, not just our success. He cares for who we are now and who we are continually becoming. When we take our eyes off ourselves, we realise we can trust Jesus with all of our being — especially with what He’s placed in each of our hearts.
My hope is that you don’t allow what you do to define or confine you, but that you live heart surrendered before God, so that you can step into the wide-open, spacious life He has for you.