I was struck by something our pastor Albert said at a meeting we had at church last nite. 

He was talking about how when it comes to physical things we tend to give praise to the person who uses a tool. We don’t go to a scalpel after an intricate heart operation and praise it for being really sharp and able to cut such precise lines.

“Hey, well done scalpel, you performed really well in that surgery back there. You should get a medal made out of your cousin probably.”

No, we praise the surgeon. That was an incredible way in which you used the scalpel and other tools and knowledge to be able to perform such a tricky and important operation.

“Well done golf ball. The way you soared through the air and then just hung on the edge of the hole for that extra half second too build intrigue before popping in. Well done you.”

No, it’s Tiger Woods, or AB Devilliers or Sebastian Vettel who get the praise and recognition for sporting achievements.

But then when it comes to spiritual things, and yes this is using the ridiculous notion that things can be divided into spiritual and physical, we tend to praise the tool instead of the One using the tool.

So the idea is that each one of us is a tool used by the hand of God [when we invite Him into our lives and ask Him to use us] but then we tend to praise the tool for the work that God is doing through us.

And the more successful or far-reaching the effect of the person’s work seems to be  the more we tend to put those people on a pedestal [like our own modern day golden calf perhaps? isn’t anything that starts to take the place and fame of God something like that?] 

So it might be helpful if each one of us took a moment to acknowledge – out loud if you’re brave, especially if you’re reading this in a Starbucks – that I AM A TOOL.

This is where it gets tricky though…

I remember wrestling with this whole thing somewhat when i started doing a lot of speaking engagements in South Africa. Deliver an amazing message [hopefully] and then someone comes up to you afterwards and says something like, ‘Wow that was really incredible.’ It took me a while to figure out what to do with that.

For starters, there is the ‘It’s not me, it’s God’ approach which is where you try to deflect praise off of you on to God, but i remember once hearing the greatest response to that which is, ‘Please dude, if that was God it would have been SO MUCH BETTER!’ 

So there is that catch 22 effect – inspired by God but not completely God working it through me as if i was a puppet or robot. [which also shows sometime in the talk someone took a lot of time and effort into preparing and the one someone else winged for example because they didn’t get around to preparing]

And the best piece of advice i was given in my speaking scenario was to politely say, ‘Thank you’ and then move on. Don’t deflect onto God which is well-intentioned but comes across as fake, and don’t stand basking in the glow and try and receive more credit than it was worth. a simple thank-you and then head for cover. 

I do think however, that when a Christ follower [in the speaking, ministering, writing realm of things] is doing their job really well, that the focus will be moved towards God naturally [because their speaking, ministering, writing will point towards Christ] and so there should never be a need for the person to become the focus and be receiving any kind of praise. 

This story is and continues to be all about Him. 

I am but a tool! 

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