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KEEPING THE FAITH | Don’t count me out

In today’s society, many find themselves determining their value and self-worth based upon how others perceive them. Seeking to be affirmed by pleasing people will leave you in a state of mind that you'll never be good enough.
The Rev. Lewis W. Macklin

In today’s society, many find themselves determining their value and self-worth based upon how others perceive them, their successes or failures or feelings of guilt or shame from the past.

Some even place values upon their own personal appearance or establish unrealistic standards to please others. 

I offer this challenge to you today: View yourself through the eyes of God as He sees you! Seeking to be affirmed by pleasing people will leave you in a state of mind that you'll never be good enough. In fact, God continues to select ordinary people to accomplish extraordinary things. 

I am reminded of the account recorded in 1 Samuel 16 where the Man of God embarked on an assignment given by God. Samuel, the prophet, is instructed to visit the home of Jessie in Bethlehem and anoint Israel’s next king who is within the household.  

Verses 6-7:  When they arrived, Samuel took one look at Eliab and thought, “Surely this is the Lord’s anointed!”  But the Lord said to Samuel, “Don’t judge by his appearance or height, for I have rejected him. The Lord doesn’t see things the way you see them. People judge by outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”

Verses 8-9:  Then Jesse told his son Abinadab to step forward and walk in front of Samuel. But Samuel said, “This is not the one the Lord has chosen.” Next Jesse summoned Shimea, but Samuel said, “Neither is this the one the Lord has chosen.” 

Verses 10-11: In the same way all seven of Jesse’s sons were presented to Samuel. But Samuel said to Jesse, “The Lord has not chosen any of these.” Then Samuel asked, “Are these all the sons you have?” “There is still the youngest,” Jesse replied. “But he’s out in the fields watching the sheep and goats.” “Send for him at once,” Samuel said. “We will not sit down to eat until he arrives.”

Verses 12-13:  So Jesse sent for David. He was dark and handsome, with beautiful eyes. And the Lord said, “This is the one; anoint him.”  So as David stood there among his brothers, Samuel took the flask of olive oil he had brought and anointed David with the oil. And the Spirit of the Lord came powerfully upon David from that day on.

Notice how Samuel and Jessie approached the selection process. Clearly frustrated after interviewing seven men who did not meet God’s approval, the prophet finally asked, “Don’t you have any more?” The prophet reasoned that God would not send him to anoint the king only to reject them all! The youthful David was dismissed by his own father as irrelevant! Imagine how David felt that his dad did not even think to present him for consideration. 

It was only as an afterthought and further prodding that Jessie acknowledged his young son that was tending to the family business. As is often the case, God chose the least likely candidate!

Apostle Michael Scott Sr., the pastor of Lighthouse Covenant Ministries, recently shared some profound thoughts regarding one’s destiny noting, “There is an inseparable connection between space, time and matter as it relates to the manifestation of the natural universe as known reality. There is also an inseparable connection God uses with location (space), season (time) and people (matter) to manifest spiritual realities in your life.” He continued on to say, “Insecurity creates its own cycle, as it will draw you to people who just tolerate you rather than celebrate you.” 

There are several lessons that can be gleaned from this encounter.

First, don’t despise humble beginnings!  David didn’t have a glamorous lifestyle; it was very modest and simple. Certainly, he was not enjoying the trappings of royalty. In fact, it was literally messy as the sheep would leave their droppings. God can take your messy situations and clean it up in such a way that it becomes a blessing to you. Psalms 23 is proof positive! Don’t let the stench of others opinions distract you from what God is doing in your life! Les Brown, a motivational speaker once remarked, “You don’t have to be great to get started, but you have to get started to be great!”

Secondly, keep on working! While David’s brothers were in the house parading before the prophet, David kept working and fulfilling his assignment. He was not in the crowd but isolated from the whole process. Pastor Scott also observed, “What you thought was alienation was actually preparation.” Even though others had forgotten about David, God had not! God knew there was a king in the midst of them waiting to be revealed to others! David was not distracted by what was happening in the house. His attention was directed in the field.  David was comfortable honoring his tasks of ensuring the sheep were protected. 

Brown also noted, “No runner ever won a race by looking over his shoulder and demeaning the competition.” 

Third, delayed is not denied!  At the time he was anointed, David was likely a pre-teen. However, he does not assume the role of king until he is 30 years old.  David did not immediately ascend to the throne, however, the sum total of his life experiences such as encountering a bear, a lion and even a giant would condition him for future service.  These events strengthened his faith in God while grooming him for leadership. 

We should always learn and seek a life lesson from our own trials and tribulations which will make a better not bitter!

Fourth, stop being held hostage by others' opinions! Stop trying to fit in, especially when God called you to stand out! What others think about you is really none of your business! Their opinion of you likely comes from a place of insecurity. What really matters is how God see you! You don’t have to react or respond to a false impression or reality of others. Not everyone will see what God sees within you- that’s okay. 

As observed by Brown, “Your dream was given to you. If someone else can’t see it for you, that’s fine, it was given to you and not them. It’s your dream. Hold it. Nourish it. Cultivate it!”  

Finally, don’t count yourself out! You have greatness within you! Undiscovered does not mean nonexistent! Although the journey to the throne was long and arduous for David, he was ultimately able to reign for 40 years. What God has for you will be only for you!  Some may appear to be threatened by your gift talent or calling. At times, even one’s most sincere and noble efforts will be seen as competition instead of a compliment by others. That is not your problem. 

A fuzzy caterpillar undergoes a metaphoric process that requires it to retreat within itself before transforming into a beautiful butterfly. The wings of the butterfly gain the strength to fly only by breaking out of the environment that once contained it. The cocoon serves as a visible reminder of the crossroads of a rough past and glorious future. Like the emerging butterfly, trust God to reveal your purpose and untapped potential. 

God is not shallow; he does not merely look at superficial matters. Rather, He examines our hearts, motives and ambitions. Press your way onward despite how the situation appears to you — and others — and always keep the faith. 

The Rev. Lewis W. Macklin II serves as the lead pastor of Holy Trinity Missionary Baptist Church, chaplain for the Youngstown Police Department and local coordinator for the African American Male Wellness Walk of the Mahoning Valley. He resides in Youngstown with Dorothy, his partner in marriage and ministry. They share the love and joy of six children and seven grandchildren.

— All biblical citations are New Living Translation unless noted otherwise