Tag Archives: reputation

When you start something you can’t finish…

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So, as I’ve mentioned many times before, I have crazy amazing friends. We love to fellowship together (a fancy way of saying I “just happen” to show up at their homes around dinner time), encourage one another (tease one another mercilessly), and experience life (watch tv and eat ice cream) together. A few weeks ago, I’m went on a walk with my friends Ali and Hali. Now, you should know that I was Hali’s small group leader when she was in the 8th grade. She is now an amazing, beautiful, strong, God-fearing young adult…and a dear friend. Although we are both adults, I must admit that we tend to occasionally act like adolescents with one another. On this particular walk, I began pestering her. Hali saw it coming and instantly had me in a headlock and before I knew what had happened, I was flat on my back in the grass. Did I mention she is strong! You see, she’s an athlete and I’m just a “wanna be” athlete! May I add this all occurred in front of my pastor’s house!? We laughed and she helped me up and the phrase for the evening became, “don’t start what you can’t finish!”

This silly little playful wrestling match (butt kicking) got me thinking…how often do I feel like I start something that I can’t finish? How often do I feel called to pick a fight, stand up for a cause, or launch a project that I don’t believe I have the strength, energy, or talent to complete? There are so many examples in the Bible of people called to do things beyond their human capabilities. David was laughed at for picking a fight with Goliath. Daniel was considered a fool for getting himself thrown into a lion’s den. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were doomed for taking on a fiery furnace. Moses looked like a fool taking on the powerful Egyptian pharaoh and Elijah didn’t look much brighter challenging the prophets of Baal. And you want to talk about starting something you can’t finish? How about Gideon who took on all of Midian with just 300 men wielding trumpets instead of swords! Or 12 ordinary men who dared to believe following a carpenter from Nazareth could change their lives and eventually the world.

When God calls us to something, He knows we do not have the ability to complete it on our own. In fact that’s the very reason He calls us. God is not looking for the most talented, the most intelligent, or the most courageous. He is looking for those who will faithfully follow Him into tasks and adventures that seem impossible with human eyes. He is glorified all the more in our weaknesses. And when I step out in faith and start something I cannot finish, I am forced to rely on God for everything necessary to see the task to completion. It is God’s reputation on the line, not mine. And though I fail on a regular basis, God does not fail. Though He may ask me to start something I cannot finish, He ALWAYS finishes what He starts!

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So what is God calling you to start? He’ll do the “finishing,” but you need to take the first step of faith!

Hi. My name is Karen. I’m an approval addict.

Well, at least I was. I like to think I’m in recovery now. My addiction began at an early age. As the story goes, as a toddler I would begin to cry if my parents even looked at me wrong. Whether two, or twenty-two, I desperately wanted my parents’ approval and accolades (along with everyone else’s). And I certainly didn’t want to disappoint them or anyone else either.

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If you are like me, at different points in your life, you’ve tried to find self-worth in a multitude of places, all of which left you wanting. Perhaps you tried accomplishment. If I just get straight As, then I’ll have worth as a person. (Until the next assignment.) Or if I make the basketball team or be voted homecoming queen, I’ll finally feel valuable. (Until the season ends and the crown is passed to another.) If I just get that promotion, teach another Sunday school class, or head up the PTA then I’ll finally feel ok. (Except it’s never enough to make the feeling last.) I’ll be the best mom and have the best kids. (Until they become teenagers and make decisions of their own.) Maybe you’ve tried to define yourself by accumulation. If I wear the right clothes, I’ll finally feel good about myself. (Until the trend changes.) The right car or the big house will make life feel complete. (Until you meet someone who has something bigger and better.) The right number of likes on Instagram or followers on Twitter will make me feel significant. (Except it doesn’t.) Or maybe you’ve looked to others to tell you that you matter. Maybe, like me, you’ve longed to hear others affirm your value with words like “great job” and “you’re the best!”

There are many problems with seeking self-worth in accolades, or what others say about you. For one thing, the words never last. You end up needing more and more to feel secure. Seeking the approval and praises of others truly becomes an addiction when you can never have enough. Secondly, it is unrealistic to think that others will always sing your praises. You’ll likely make a bad decision and get in trouble. You’ll do poorly on a school or work project and be spoken to by your teacher or boss. You’ll let an easy grounder go right through your legs and here your teammates and coaches groan. And no matter how hard you try, there will be that one person (if not more) that just doesn’t like you for apparently no reason at all. Seeking approval and fearing disappointment or anger of others can lead to boundary problems and an inability to say no or express your own opinion.

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And finally, what happens when someone spreads a nasty rumor about you? Defining yourself by what others say really doesn’t work when what others say isn’t positive or true. Unfortunately, I think most of people have had this happen. I know I certainly have. I broken friendship led to the other person spreading horrible and untrue rumors about my character among our other friends and community. Had this happened to me in high school (thankfully it did not), I would have been absolutely devastated and would not have known how to handle it. Thankfully, when it did occur, I had a better sense of self and wise advisors to guide me in how to respond, which largely meant not responding at all and allowing my actions and character to speak for me. Yes, I was hurt, but I was devastated like I would have been in the past.

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When we search for self-worth in accomplishment, accumulation, or accolades, we are often left with regret. We are left unsatisfied and longing for more. All we can focus on is all of the ways we aren’t enough and we give power to things and people that do not really deserve to have it – like the grade on that paper or a new gadget we’ve purchased or what some peer says about us. When end up feeling insecure and acting in selfish ways. That’s the problem. Future blogs are going to focus on the solution. But tell me, does this resonate with you? How do you define yourself? Where do you look to find self-worth? Accomplishments? Accumulation? Accolades? Regrets? And when you look in those places, what do you find? Are you satisfied or left longing for more?