I can’t do everything!

... But how often I think I have to! This is such a temptation for me, and for many other leaders I suspect, who have hearts that yearn to serve God and change the world. Where and when and how does our legitimate desire to give our all become sinful pride that tries to take from God His glorious role of Finisher?

The great evangelist D.L. Moody seems to have worked it out: “If it can be said over my grave, ‘Moody has done what he could’ that will be the most glorious epitaph.”

The apostle Paul seemed to get the balance right, because He had such a superb theology of the responsibility of man and the sovereignty of God: “But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me.” (1 Corinthians 15:10).

John Piper observes, “What counts most in the Christian ministry cannot be accomplished by man left to himself.”

Jesus put this most simply: “Apart from Me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5) What a joke that I try to do anything without Him, let alone think I need to do everything!

Here’s the quote that got me thinking about this in the first place. (I found it originally attributed to Archbishop Oscar Romero, but was in fact the work of Bishop Ken Untener.) For someone who struggles with this sin, I found it incredibly releasing and exciting. The last phrase is particularly brilliant.
“We cannot do everything. And there is a sense of liberation in realising that this enables us to do something and do it very well. It may be incomplete but it is a beginning, a step along the way, an opportunity for the Lord's grace to enter and do the rest. We may never see the end results but that is the difference between the master builder and the worker. We are the workers not the master builders, we are the ministers not messiahs, we are the prophets of a future not our own.”