by Kris Dolberry
I remember almost everything about that night. It was a Thursday night– the 4th day of our annual spring revival at my small rural church. I was 8 years old. The preacher’s name was Brother Teel. As he preached a fiery sermon from the book of Daniel, by God’s grace the gospel that I had heard as long as I could remember began to actually make sense to me. During the second verse of the invitation hymn, I made my way from my seat on the third pew on the right side, to the altar where I knelt with my dad and his best friend, our pastor to repent of my sins. I made a public commitment of my faith in Jesus and His free gift of salvation that night. Then, I walked out of that church trying to prove to God why I deserved it what He had given me freely.
I thought of the gospel as being good for my salvation. But, sanctification? Well, that’s on me– or so I thought. The result was an exhausting near 30-year struggle with feeling like I couldn’t run fast enough to keep up with God’s expectations of me. My default opinion of myself was, “I don’t measure up.” The toxicity of thinking God was perpetually disappointed with me spilled over into every domain of my life– my marriage, parenting, friendships, work, and even church.
Have you ever felt that way? Maybe it was in a small group Bible study when the leader asked you to look up the book of Zepheniah. Was it when a friend asked you a theological question you didn’t know the answer to? Or was it when, as hard as you tried, you just couldn’t sustain leading your family in a devotional?
This mindset is a gross misunderstanding of the gospel and devastating to our spiritual lives and the joy we find as followers of Jesus.
We men often think of ourselves second-string Christians. In our minds, the first-stringers are the pastors and missionaries. But not us ordinary guys. We can’t be like that. We don’t know enough, can’t sing well enough, are not outgoing enough… And the list goes on and on.
If you read Philippians 3:4-9, what you find is Paul declaring how he once mistakenly formed his opinion of what God thought of him based on how well he could check a list of religious tasks. He would go on to declare that living on that perpetual treadmill of trying to measure up is pointless and a “waste”.
When Jesus chose His disciples, he didn’t choose men who were necessarily successful, impressive, religious, or even good by the world’s standards. They were ordinary, uneducated, gritty, callous, shy, and skeptical. In fact, on nearly every page of the Bible are men like Moses, Gideon, Abraham, Joseph, David, Peter, and of course Paul. They are all ordinary men who, like you and me, in many ways didn’t think they were good enough to be used by God. But, God delights in taking the ordinary and making them extraordinary. He takes the common, mediocre, and leftover and declares them exceptional. He takes the broken and makes them whole and new.
He’s looking for ordinary men who are willing to go all in. Are you?
Kris Dolberry is a pastor, speaker, and writer. After serving as national leader of Ministry to Men at LifeWay and Executive Editor of Stand Firm, a daily devotional magazine for men, he is now one of the pastors at The Bridge Church. Kris is husband to Vanessa and dad to Konnor, Emma, and Brady. They live outside Nashville, Tennessee. Find out more at krisdolberry.com