Bible Reflection

PatchHave you ever noticed how provardo, self inflation, the standing tall with a chest puffed out, seems to be a prerequisite to getting ahead in many organisations. You are told, “be bold”, “have Big Hairy Audacious Goals”, “take risks”, “stand out from the crowd”, be bigger and better than the next guy! Push, strive… and get ahead. Don’t let anyone get in your way.

Over the years I have observed the interesting phenomenon as a “new boy on the block” arrives. He, or she, is quick to try and make their mark on the organisation. Sweeping changes and so called innovation are the order of the day. Out with the old, in with the new. Railroad over top of everything. And when done, leaves, and the next one eagerly arrives to do the same.

And, if you are around long enough, so called innovation cycles back to how it used to be done.  A fine classic is when companies go through the “let’s diversify” and the next idea is, “let’s consolidate” which is closely followed by, “let’s diversify”. Sometimes cycles are fine if preempting changes in the market.  But my point is that people arrive in a new position with big ideas…and sometimes it is no idea at all.

Some arrive to take on a particular role and tend to make it seem “bigger than Ben Hur”. Their concept of self importance is evident. Most can see it, and ignore them just as a “blustering passing fad” or a “fly-by-nighter”, here today, gone tomorrow… and those who remain are left skeptical and a little hardened toward the next arrival.

The reasons these ladder climbers leave most times is that they “have outgrown the role” or are moving on “to greener pastures”. But sometimes it is because it is beyond their competence or isn’t fulfilling some deep inner need.

Most times, some of the best people for the job come from within the ranks of the organisation. We have all heard stories of the mail clerk rising up to be CEO, etc. Some companies, whose leaders rose through the ranks within their organisation, are Apple, Standard & Poor’s Corporation, Samsung, Cisco, Amazon.com, Tesco, JP Morgan Chase, Nintendo, IBM, GEC, Renault, Fiat, Walt Disney, Harvard University, Yahoo!, Cominco, and CityLife Church,  to name just a few big name organisations.

“No one sews a patch of unshrunk cloth on an old garment. If they do, the new piece will pull away from the old, making the tear worse.
Mark 2:21

Mending an old garment with a new patch is not wise, because when the garment is washed, the patch shrinks and tears away from the garment.

Same with an organisation. Someone new is bought in to fix it but they see the role as an opportunity to show what they can do… they are yet to be cut to size. The result is when they see the little hole that they need to fill, and as they reluctantly begin to shrink, they begin to pull away and cause a worse tear than the first.

A wise tailor/seamstress will first soak a new patch in hot water before sewing it onto the older garment. This allows the patch to shrink to size before being sewn permanently into the garment.

Also, in the same way, the Lord must shrink us before He can use us.

When we start a new role, come to a church or join a new ministry team, we cannot but be aware of the dozens of things we feel qualified to accomplish. We may even look at others and think, “I could do better than that!” If you are looking at what someone else is doing and feel you could do better, it is because you are still, to some degree, unshrunk.  And in the case of church, God hasn’t brought you into the body to do someone else’s task… he wants you to focus on your own, even if it is seemingly insignificant.

“But how will I advance unless someone sees my talents?”, you may argue. The Lord gives this as an answer:

“Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much.
Luke 16:10

We must simply do that which God calls us to and not envy others and the roles they play. We may desire to do some great thing for God when God simply wants us to do the little things as though they were great. The entire organisation does not need repair, just the hole we are called to fill. Each role has an exact size requirement.

How do you fit your role? Just like the tailor/seamstress, God puts you in hot water! He shrinks us from our exaggerated opinion of ourselves before He can use us in greater projects. Fill the need without envying others. If for a time you find yourself in hot water, it maybe because you took on tasks beyond the Lord’s assignment for you. He is simply shrinking you to the size of your calling.

The Lord is very serious about the plan He has for our lives. His primary goal for each of us is this: “To create us into the image of Christ”. We are to be Christlike. In His hands, he will use our failures and our time in hot water to work for both our good and for His glory in our lives.

The world screams out, “Every man for themselves… Go get it… Take out anyone who gets in your way!”, but the Kingdom of God quietly says, “Ask the Lord to shrink you to the right size for the task at hand, cover the need without ambition, uproot hidden jealousies within you, lest you find yourself striving to take the place of others.”

Today is your day of choice.