Hell hath no fury like the storm it stirs up when I feel ineffective. You could chase me with a raging dinosaur and I would be less afraid than if you chased me with thesaurus filled with synonyms for the word ineffective. I absolutely hate the feeling to the point that I will drive myself crazy until I have “fixed” the problem. Basically, I need some sort of outcome.
I searched the word ineffectiveness in my Bible app and came across this…”For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But whoever does not have them is nearsighted and blind, forgetting that they have been cleansed from their past sins.” 2 Peter 1:5-9
What stood out most was the gigantic list of things God calls us to possess if we wish to be effective. It’s a big list! But never once does it mention outcomes.
Could it be that we can be effective without an outcome? That we can possess perserverance, knowledge, love, and self-control and consider ourselves successful even if the story ends far from where we thought it might. And the best news about all of this is we don’t even have to achieve these qualities to a level of perfection. We just need to pursue them.
I’m starting to realize that an outcome driven view of effectiveness can be dangerous. Regardless of our actions and the qualities we posses, we have little control over results. Relentlessly seeking outcomes is exhausting and we may burn out long before God was finished. Why? It seems God never meant for us to be the author of the outcome in the first place.
God’s purpose with us is growth. To work through us as we seek Him and share His awesomeness with others. Sometimes He will do big work while we are present and we will get to see the miraculous ending. But far more often we have a supporting role and may never see the finished product.
So do we really need the outcome? I won’t lie…it’s nice to have. We get a feeling boost of security, worth, value, and purpose when we get to see hard work come to fruition. But even if we don’t, it certainly doesn’t mean our work is meaningless. What makes the things we do meaningful is the heart that it was done with. If we act in love, kindness, and faithfulness and pursue these things will all of our hearts – that is outcome enough. We don’t have to make up for our past or earn the value of our present based off of productivity. Our past sins are erased by the blood of the lamb and we couldn’t possibly earn our present. Everything we have is because of grace.
Maybe if we released ourselves from seeking the outcome we could love and connect with others even deeper in the present. And isn’t that the true gift?
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