“It’s not what you have; it’s what you GIVE to what you have.”
William Larry Swift
My parents pastored small churches for most of my life.
I, to my great surprise, began to follow in their ministerial footsteps by becoming a youth pastor at a young age and later attending a Christian university. I went into college with a few years of ministry under my belt, and I assumed I would finish my college career only to go back into youth ministry a sharper, well equipped pastor.
However, during my time at my university, the Lord began to shift my heart and unfold a new and unexpected plan for my life. After graduation, I was still wrestling with my calling and searching out this shifting
My friends seemed instantly successful. They launched into their, artistic and business endeavors with what seemed like, at least from a distance, sheer ease.
Those who didn’t jump into their career were traveling, getting married, or getting their Master’s degree. They all seemed to be breaking ahead of me, leaving me in the dust.
I began to feel “late” to every dream in my life as I watched others break ahead. I was like a rocket, ready to launch but with no place to go: aimless.
While experiencing my quarter-life crisis, my dad offered these words, “Jen, it’s not what you have; it’s what you give to what you have”. It’s that sort of Dad-like advice that always comes in in the clutch.
What made these words especially impactful to my restless heart, was that my dad lived this very sentence out every day of his life. I watched him toil tirelessly for the faithful congregants who sat in those blue Sunday morning church pews. I experienced his relentless care and provision for our family.
And now, once again, my dad was caring for me in the way my heart needed most. His simple statement and effortless wisdom changed my view of success for the rest of my life.
Greatness isn’t found in my following, it’s found in my character and care of others.
The deep work the Lord does in me will eventually be a deep work He does through me. And deep work takes more time. I want my life to be swimming in the depth of God and His purposes rather than the shallow end of my own expectations. So, I’m becoming okay with the detours from my dreams and the longer routes to greatness. And I am incredibly grateful for a father who can show me the way.
Jen is a pastor, worship leader, writer, and songwriter living in Napa, California.