I have been in situations where I was the only Black person in the room, yet God gave me favor to be among people with whom I could connect and partner.
Not only did God give me the grace to handle every opportunity, but he also used those situations to allow me to form meaningful friendships that have blessed my life for many years. When our church began to outgrow what is now our Ministry Center, we were searching for property for our Worship Center. That is when I met Morty, a businessman who also happened to own the land we eventually acquired. When I discussed the purchase with Morty, I thought I could negotiate a lower price. But he stood firm. We bought the property at his asking price, but out of that transaction grew a wonderful friendship. Eventually, Morty invited me to serve on the board of his bank. So, a person who was never very good at math found himself sitting at the table with financial executives and experts! Go figure. Talk about God’s sense of humor. By serving on that board, I was able to glean so much financial knowledge. Then I took what I learned and applied it to my life and ministry. My newfound knowledge wasn’t the only benefit of this new relationship. God’s goodwill toward us led Morty to create an endowment so children in our church who improved their grades could receive scholarship money for college.
This is just one of the countless examples of God showing me his favor and directing my steps. God wants to show you favor and direct your steps too, but it all begins with experiencing his grace. He wants to present you with opportunities and give you the grace to realize them.
Whatever God is calling you to do, he will give you grace to handle it. Most of us want to experience God’s grace in our lives, but I’ve learned that too many of us expect grace for assignments we might want for selfish reasons—not the assignments God wants for us. One way to discern the true source of an assignment is to ask yourself this question: Who will this assignment benefit? Me and my career, or other people, especially other people who are in need?
For example, God does not give everybody the grace to pastor a 10,000-member church or even a 5,000-member church. If this were the case, who would lead the thousands of small- and medium-sized churches? God may be calling you to something different, so remain open to his will for your life and ministry. All of us should operate to the best of our abilities right now, with the grace God has given us. If you do this, God will empower you and present you with opportunities to be what you are supposed to be and do what you are supposed to do.
Now that you know the value of operating in God’s grace, you are probably wondering how you can experience it for yourself. The key is humility. Humility is realizing that I can do nothing in my own strength. The Bible says, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble” (James 4:6 NLT). When people tell me they want to walk in God’s grace, I encourage them to walk in humility.
Philippians 2:8 reveals how Jesus humbled himself: He modeled humility by dying for us, and we should follow his model of self-sacrifice. We must be willing to give our all to fulfill our God-given assignment. So, if your ministry is about edifying or exalting yourself, that is not going to work. I do not know the specifics of what God has called you to do, but I can tell you without question that it requires dying to yourself. For example, I encourage pastors to take a look at their church website. Do the photos and videos feature the pastor and other members of leadership, or do they feature people from the church membership (especially volunteers, who are often underappreciated) and the community at large? This is one way to determine what a church’s priorities are and the message it communicates to its community. On a similar note, listen to your sermons from time to time. How much do you talk about yourself, especially in glowing terms, versus the time you invest honoring others, telling their stories, and giving the ultimate credit to God?
James 4:10 promises us, “Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up.” Similar verses abound in Scripture. God is crystal clear, and he doesn’t mind repeating himself on this topic.
Humility is the doorway to receiving God’s grace. That’s why it’s the key to being effective in all facets of your ministry. For example, in a later chapter, I will address humility’s importance in conflict resolution.
If we humble ourselves, we avoid getting to a point where God has to humble us. That experience can be painful, and its consequences can linger for a lifetime. In the pages ahead, you will read about some of my own struggles in this area. None of us are perfectly humble all the time. The good news is that when we are intentional about having a spirit of humility, God will show us favor.
Excerpted from Grace to Grow by John K. Jenkins Sr. Copyright 2023. Published by Zondervan. Used by permission. www.harpercollinschristian.com