But what I am now I am by the grace of God. The grace he gave me has not proved a barren gift. I have worked harder than any of the others – and yet it was not I but this same grace of God within me. 1 Corinthians 15:10 J.B. Phillips Translation
She’d answer the phone speaking in tongues!
“Hello, Mother Clark!” I’d say. She’d laugh with such delight as she always did when I called, and she’d say (as she always did), “Ah, Sister Deborah! Daughter, I was just thinking about you!” She’d barely give me a chance to ask how she was or if she needed anything before she’d go straight prophetic on me, give me a “thus saith the Lord,” pray with me. I’d hang up, eyes filled with tears and heart filled with gratitude.
I admit I don’t remember a lot of those conversations now. But there are some that I will never forget, for the words lodged deep in my spirit. They didn’t necessarily take root at the time, but recently those words returned to me to heal, to shift my perspective, to change me, to settle me more deeply, to strengthen my resolve.
I came home from work one afternoon and called Mother Clark just to check on her. She began telling me about a segment of the Oprah Show she’d just watched about birth order. Then she said, “You are bold, full of dazzle and sparkle! Full of life! Gifted and talented! But you play that down. You hide who you are because you don’t want people to think you’re showing off. You don’t want them to feel bad about themselves. You don’t want to outshine others so you shrink back from who you really are. God doesn’t want you to do that!”
She was right! At some point in my childhood, I began to play down who I was. I minimized the skills, gifts and talents that God had given me, never wanting anyone to think I thought I was better than they were, almost apologetic for having what I had, knowing what I knew, doing well what I did well. Unfortunately, that behavior which began in childhood carried over into adulthood and become a form of imprisonment. I cloaked it as “humility” when in reality it was only a form of the self-imposed limitations my pastor has taught about.
That is not the example Christ gave us. Jesus knew exactly who He was. He knew His purpose and destiny on earth and remained unapologetic about who He was and what He was sent to accomplish. He never played it down, went undercover, or lurked in the shadows because someone might get the wrong impression, get offended, feel uncomfortable or feel badly about themselves. He knew the power and authority He possessed and unapologetically walked in that power and authority! He unapologetically spoke the truth in love, healed the sick (on the Sabbath, of all days), cast out demons, raised the dead, confronted religious leaders, associated with the pariah of society, loved the unlovable, touched the untouchable. He went to the cross and unapologetically finished the work His Father called Him to do, and in so doing not only glorified God, but He Himself was glorified and given a name above every name.
He did it all — humbly unapologetic!
True humility is not self-abasement or shying away from allowing others to see who we are in Him. Humility flows from knowing that who we are, who we are not, who we are becoming, what we do, what we have, what we know, how we are gifted, how God chooses to use us is all by the His grace – nothing more, nothing less!
When we live our lives as if we need to apologize for who we are, we will never fully accomplish what we are called to accomplish, never touch all the lives we are called to touch. At best, we only partially fulfill the vision God has given us! God doesn’t get the maximum glory from our lives.
I am what I am, created, wired, equipped as I am, by the grace of God and I will not let that grace be without results! No time to be apologetic!
So I will —
Write the books and sing the songs
Teach and preach and prophesy
Build what He has called me to build
Speak truth in love
Lay hands on the sick and know they will recover
Confront the powers of darkness, knowing they must submit to the authority given me in Jesus' name
Be an instrument God uses to transform lives
Worship in abandon
Be all He created me to be and finish the work!
I will show my shine — unapologetically!