My mother and I couldn’t have been more different. A private woman, she kept a low profile; I act as if I am running for mayor. She preferred quietness; I fill my world with words...
Given a choice, she wore jeans; I love bling. She’d rather golf; I’d rather host a dinner.
Total opposites, our talents took us down two different paths. She could ably chair a meeting, but her joy lay elsewhere. An outstanding athlete, the mantle at home sagged with the trophies she won in a variety of sports: badminton, baseball, bowling, golf.
I enjoyed a different arena. Comfortable behind a microphone from grade school on, my résumé included narrator, club officer, party hostess, debate team member. My bent for leading didn’t change after I committed my life to Christ in college. Soon I was teaching Bible studies and leading prayer groups. After marrying, my husband and I entered the ministry. I spoke to women’s groups and at retreats, and still occasionally preach.
Growing up I often wondered if Mom was disappointed in me, her only daughter. Mom and I didn’t talk about our differences until I was middle aged. If we had, I would have discovered that it was I, not Mom, who was disappointed.
The Pharisee in me was sure that God would rather listen to me preach a sermon than watch my mother swing a golf club. After all, I was involved in “spiritual” things while Mom was caught up in “secular” sports. Didn’t He value a Bible-preaching pastor above a ball-hitting believer? Hadn’t I, like Mary, chosen the best part?
Really? Does God weigh the worth of a person like the world does--by who someone is and what kind of work someone does? Does He rate doctors above ditch diggers? Clerics above congregations? Do some jobs bring God more glory than others?
I thought so, and so did the Apostle Peter—until he learned that “God shows no partiality. But in every nation whoever fears Him and works righteousness is accepted by Him.” (Acts 10:34b-35) The book of James also cautions us to not show partiality or to judge another person as if his value depended on his wealth or social standing. (James 2:1-9) The truth is God has no favorites. (Romans 2:11)
Slowly I realized that God’s not impressed by how skilled or clever a person is—after all, He’s the One who gave each of us our gifts. He warns the talented to not act like they are superior: “What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as though you did not receive it?” (1 Corinthians 4:7)
How then does God rate the worth of any person’s skill? He examines our attitude behind our actions. We humans see the outward accomplishments, but God looks on the heart. (1 Samuel 16:17) Why we do something is more important that what we do.
Self-centered pride over an achievement in any arena is possible. A preacher can puff up over a successful sermon as easily as a ball player over a home run. God’s glory must be our goal, whether we’re in a pulpit or in a batter’s box. “Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you, do all to the glory of God.” (1 Corinthians 10:31)
Eric Liddell, winner of Olympic gold in 1924, understood that God did not divide life into spiritual and secular boxes. Liddell, in addition to being a superb runner, was a dedicated missionary to China. He saw no conflict between the call of God and his athletic ability, declaring, “God made me for a purpose, but He also made me fast. And when I run I feel His pleasure.”
As a parent I delighted in watching my children use their talents. It made no difference what their gift, whether writing for the school newspaper, running at a cross-country meet, leading a marching band, or singing in a choir presentation. In the same way, our Heavenly Father surely enjoys watching as we discover and develop the gifts He hard-wired into us--whether performing sports or preaching sermons.
It took me longer to let go of my childish expectation--demand, really--that my mom be Betty Crocker. But I did come to celebrate my mother’s championship abilities and accomplishments years before she died. I often think of her, grateful for her example of diligence, discipline, and drive.
Thank you, Lord, for the gift of my amazing momma.