It is better to be a faithful weakling who keeps showing up than a faithless spiritual giant who is only showing off.
Just Show Up
A few months ago, I physically plateaued in my weightlifting. I was not necessarily lifting for extraordinary results in the first place, but I was used to seeing rather quick growth. When these results quit showing up, so did my motivation. A common piece of advice that I stumbled upon that many physical trainers share with their clients was something along the lines of, “You do not have to be the guy that is squatting 1,000 pounds or benching 500 pounds. You need to be the guy that keeps showing up.” This advice is true for weightlifting, but it is also true for spiritual growth.
We do not need every man and woman to be able to translate the Bible into English from Greek and Hebrew. God will call and equip those people with a heart for Him and academics to do such tasks. We need men and women who will faithfully wake up every day with an eagerness to show up before God in diligent Bible study and intimate prayer.
We are all very different, both in our physical talents and our spiritual giftedness. It is better for a person to show up five days a week and lift light weights with correct form, than it is for somebody to show up one day a week and lift a truck with an arched back.
Similarly, it is usually better for someone to spend meaningful and reflective time in the Bible daily, than it is for someone to cram a lot of information into their minds one day a week. Generally, cramming information only stays in our short-term memory and does not penetrate into our heart and cause transformation. In other words, cramming is bad stewardship of both our mind and our time.
As I said, however, we are all gifted very differently. Every now and then we run into people who can come to the gym five days a week and lift a truck with good form each day. These people often intimidate us. Similarly, the people we look up to as spiritual giants in our life that have a lot of the Bible memorized and intimate prayer lives often intimidate us as well. Often, when I have met and talked with these spiritual giants, they are the most humble and loving people that I have met.
There is the other side, however. There are spiritual giants that we want to model after and idolize who are dead on the inside. They have a natural ability for memorization and clear candid speech. They are spiritual giants when everybody is looking, but when the heads turn away from them, they turn away from God.
We must acknowledge that there are faithful spiritual giants that we should learn from, who are more talented and gifted than we ever will be in this life. That is okay. However, don’t miss this, it is better to be a faithful weakling who keeps showing up than a faithless spiritual giant who is only showing off.
We can’t all be spiritual giants and that is okay, we can all be faithful.
What if I can no longer show up like I used to?
There will also be a day when we start to decline in health, whether due to illness or aging. There will be a day when our muscles do not work the way they used to and possibly our minds do not either.
During this decline, we can cling to these words from 2 Corinthians 12:8-1, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore. I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
We all need Jesus and we need Him all the time, we just don’t always recognize it. One of the things that plateauing and declining physically does for us spiritually is that it forces us to acknowledge our need for a strong Savior.
This decline will inevitably impact our spiritual disciplines as well. When we are sick or tired, it becomes harder to wake up and harder to remember. When we stop comparing ourselves chronologically to our previous selves, and stop comparing ourselves horizontally to the spiritual giants, then we become free to be faithful with where we are and what we have.
If you are in the position, or know somebody in a position of not very good or declining physical health, there are options. Reach out to your local church and ask for them to have somebody come and spend time with you, to read the Bible to you, to pray with and for you, to have somebody else show up to you when you can barely show up before God.
The truth is, if society labels you as good for nothing, you are still good enough for God! In fact, it would be better to be faithfully bedridden than to be a faithless spiritual giant preaching a false gospel on television. Many more human eyes may see them than you, but whose eyes are you being faithful for?
Show up as faithfully as you can today, right now. If you cannot show up, find somebody who can intercede and show up for you and with you. Do not compare yourself chronologically to the old you or the you to come, do not compare yourself horizontally to others, but do compare yourself vertically to God and let Him be strong where you are weak and acknowledge that He is stronger where you think that you are strong.