Competence

It is good to be good at what you do. 
While our calling is a gift from God, our competence is our gift back to Him.  To put it another way:

  • talent (the ability to learn to do something) is God’s gift to us and
  • skill (the ability to do something) is our gift back to Him.

The Christ-follower swims in a sea of grace.  God’s abundant blessings are everywhere around us.  If we do not maintain a constant awareness of His grace, we will take His blessings for granted and lose the humility and gratitude that form the basis of True Worship.  For this reason we must always keep the Gates of Thanksgiving in view as we do the work we are called to do.

In the 1965 film directed by Victor McLaglen, Shenandoah, the wonderful James Stewart plays a Virginia farmer trying to resist the Civil War raging back and forth through the Shenandoah Valley.  He refuses to let his sons fight and runs a loving but tense household in the absence of his wife who died years before.  He is not a believer, but she was and true to his promise to her, he leads the family in prayer before each meal.  His prayer reveals that he is much more aware of his competence as a farmer than he is of God’s grace.  He prays something like this:

“Lord, we cleared this land with our own hands.  We plowed it and planted the seed.  We harvested its bounty.  We’ve done a lot better by this land than you did when you had it by yourself.  But we thank for these blessings anyhow.  Amen.”

It is funny at first but then it is sad.   May we never be so blind that we cannot see the hand of God in our lives!  May we never take the credit for what God has done.

In the face of the requisite humility, there is work for us to do.
There is a competence that we need to develop.  This does not signal a shortfall in the grace of God.  It is a realization that God has made us to be functioning, whole, productive agents of His grace.  The work we have to do today is His work.  Our success is not in some super-spiritual laziness, leaving all the shovel work to others.  Our success is a partnership of our skill with His anointing.

Worship leaders, singers, and instrumentalists, must learn this lesson quickly if their ministries are to be lasting ones.  Music making lies in the human body and soul.  The soul comprises the mind, emotions, and memory of the musician.  These areas of skill must be taught and drilled until the subconscious mind rules the body so that the music in our souls can be released for others to hear.  At the same time, when our spirit—the God conscious part of us—connects with the Spirit of God, our music takes on a spiritual dimension.  It goes beyond sight, sound, and sensation to impact the spirits of those who hear it.  In other words, our music is anointed, empowered by the Holy Spirit.

If this is true of music, then it is true of the work you are called to do. 
Your work has fundamentals that need to be mastered.  Your thinking can be honed to greater degrees of clarity and soundness.  Your work can be anointed by the Spirit of God when you offer the Lord your competence as gift of worship.  Those with whom you work may never speak of it, but the Spirit of God in you and in your work, will be an excellent witness, a song they love to hear.

Psalm 33:1-5
Sing joyfully to the LORD, you righteous; it is fitting for the upright to praise him. Praise the LORD with the harp; make music to him on the ten-stringed lyre. Sing to him a new song; play skillfully, and shout for joy. For the word of the LORD is right and true; he is faithful in all he does. The LORD loves righteousness and justice; the earth is full of his unfailing love.
Exodus 35:30-35
Then Moses said to the Israelites, “See, the LORD has chosen Bezalel…and he has filled him with the Spirit of God, with skill, ability and knowledge in all kinds of crafts– to make artistic designs for work in gold, silver and bronze, to cut and set stones, to work in wood and to engage in all kinds of artistic craftsmanship. And he has given both him… the ability to teach others.  He has filled them with skill to do all kinds of work as craftsmen…
Ecclesiastes 10:10
If the ax is dull and its edge unsharpened, more strength is needed but skill will bring success.
Colossians 3:17; 23-24
And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. …Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.
John 6:26-29
Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. On him God the Father has placed his seal of approval.” Then they asked him, “What must we do to do the works God requires?” Jesus answered, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.”
Psalm 90:17
May the favor of the Lord our God rest upon us; establish the work of our hands for us–yes, establish the work of our hands.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, the Psalmist asked that the words of his mouth and the meditations of heart would be acceptable to You. Today I want to add to that list, the work of my hands. You have placed me in a certain place to do a certain work. Give me the desire to develop the skills needed to excel at this work! In the words of Paul I will do this work with all my strength, as unto to You, Lord, and not unto men, and in Your powerful name. Make my work a witness to Your grace this day. Amen.

Song:
Give of Your Best to the Master
Words: Howard B. Grose; Music: Claribel

1. Give of your best to the Master;
Give of the strength of your youth;
Throw your soul’s fresh, glowing ardor
Into the battle for truth.
Jesus has set the example,
Dauntless was He, young and brave;
Give Him your loyal devotion;
Give Him the best that you have.

Refrain:
Give of your best to the Master;
Give of the strength of your youth;
Clad in salvation’s full armor,
Join in the battle for truth.

2. Give of your best to the Master;
Give Him first place in your heart;
Give Him first place in your service;
Consecrate every part.
Give, and to you will be given;
God His beloved Son gave;
Gratefully seeking to serve Him,
Give Him the best that you have.

Refrain

3. Give of your best to the Master;
Naught else is worthy His love;
He gave Himself for your ransom,
Gave up His glory above.
Laid down His life without murmur,
You from sin’s ruin to save;
Give Him your heart’s adoration;
Give Him the best that you have.

Refrain

Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2017 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved

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