Yesterday I was having a conversation with a friend. We work together and do accountability each week. I shared with him about some of the things that were happening with me and some success we had seen , which we had been praying for. In a similar area of effort he was not seeing as much success and so he complimented me, saying that I was good at doing that type of thing.
How did I respond to that? How would you?
I kind of blushed wishing to deflect the praise. I didn't want to send (or accept) the message of, "Yes, I'm better than you." So, I said, "It isn't me, it's God!"
As soon as the words came out of my mouth it hit me--That is probably worse than me saying I'm better than him! It is like I am saying, "Yes, God works through me--why doesn't he work through you?"
That's not what I wanted to imply either. So, I find it difficult to know what to say. Spiritualizing the meaning behind any success I have in ministry can become more judgemental than just saying I'm talented. In effect, it is saying that God works through me and not you. Certainly, that was not my attitude. Is that what my friend heard, though? Which would be easier for him to accept: That he is not as talented, or that God's blessing is not upon him. I think the former is easier to accept. But what is the truth?
The truth is that we don't know the mind of God. Does God measure success the same way we do? Perhaps it's not a matter of failure but timing--the fruit is just not ripe yet and in time it will be. Perhaps God's blessing is that he is teaching perseverence rather than giving fruit.
In everything, we should give praise to God. And I still praise God for the fruit he has given. So does my friend. But I just want him to know that I don't think he lacks God's blessing and in time he will bear fruit, too. Maybe in the same way; maybe in different ways. I certainly have gone fruitless many, many times, and have utterly failed at others. So, in everything, to God be the glory!