Welcome to my blog...

Green trees, cool water, a gentle breeze...the perfect place to sit at the feet of the Master and learn. Jesus taught so often on the shoreline, and He's still speaking today.

This is where I share the lessons He teaches me, often during the time I spend on the shores of a local lake. I don't have all the answers...and some days I don't have any. But I go here when I need to draw near to Him in a tangible way. Come with me...

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Thoughts on Achievement

Achievement.  A noun.  Definition: something accomplished, especially by superior ability, special effort, great courage, etc. 

Next month, I will receive an award.  The "Mercer County Woman of Achievement" award, given in recognition of my work in the community.  At least, I'm sure that's what the committee who reviewed the nomination thinks they are celebrating.  But even as I write "my work" I know that is not true.  

Once I got over the shock of the news, I began thinking about what it meant to be a "woman of achievement."  What had I done really?  I asked that question, not out of a sense of false humility, but of heartfelt sincerety, and this is what came to mind...

Nothing is achieved apart from God. If the work I oversee in my position as outreach ministry head was not in His will, with His blessing, it would not flourish.  God gave the vision and is faithful to complete the work He started.  All praise and glory and honor go to Him and Him alone.  Proverbs 19:21 says:  “Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the LORD that will stand.”

Nothing is achieved alone.  I sit under the tutelage of pastors who "get it."  They know the church is not a building that serves as an exclusive club.  It is a body of believers who need to act on the command to love your neighbor as yourself.  And God has surrounded me with a team of people who have a servants' heart. Their passion for people and compassion for their circumstances is evident in all they do.  They share a vision for doing practical acts of service with no strings attached.  We are motivated to serve just to let others see God's love in action. 

God can use anything and anyone to accomplish His purposes.  Two and a half years ago, when God first burdened my heart with the idea of the outreach ministry, I went to my senior pastor. I clearly remember saying to him "I'm not a leader. I'm an encourager. I'll do whatever someone tells me to do, but I don't want to be chief in charge of anything." I had nothing in my arsenal that defined "achievement". No superior ability (or training of any kind), no special effort, and certainly not great courage - I wanted to hide behind someone else who would take the lead. 

Even further back, almost six years now, God not only spared my job but created an unlikely partnership.  I knew I was slated to be part of a down-sizing and was shocked to find my name had been removed from the list in the 11th hour.  Through a series of circumstances too numerous to detail here (although they are all part of a book I'm working on) I began attending my current church, began heading up the outreach ministry there, and found a benefactor for several of our projects in the owner of my company.  When I think back on that down-sizing incident, the words "for such a time as this" jump to mind.  I'm sure the owner had no idea how he and his money would be used by God several years down the road.

So what is my achievement?  My "something accomplished?"  Those words indicate a job finished, and there is still much to be done.  But, if I'm in the process of achieving anything, it is becoming a vessel for God to work through.  I am not "chief in charge of anything."  God is in control.  And when I become a willing vessel, when I "achieve" laying down my pride and getting out of the way, He is free to use my strengths of being an encourager.  I am free to serve Him the way He's gifted me, by "rallying the troops".  Habakkuk 2:1-2 says :  "I will take my stand at my watchpost and station myself on the tower, and look out to see what he will say to me, and what I will answer concerning my complaint. And the Lord answered me: 'Write the vision; make it plain on tablets, so he may run who reads it.'" 

So on November 8th, I will accept the award with my name on it, but I hope I am given the opportunity to set the record straight.  To share with those in attendance that God is the one to be honored.  That anything accomplished through us and sometimes even in spite of us, is not because of us...it is because of Him and His love for us. 


  1. Loved this!!! Glad someone will be capturing this momentous occasion on film (and you'll look MAHvelous!), but I'd really like to be a fly on the wall instead, so I could hear your speech as you 'set the record straight!' Woot woot! :)

  2. Thanks Pam :) I am praying it's not just smile, take the pic, and accept the award, but a real chance to say a few words about the work and an opportunity to set the record straight!!

  3. Beautiful post, Toni! So. Glad you shared your thoughts -so much honesty and wisdom. Congratulations!

    1. Thanks Dawn for the congrats and kind words :)

  4. I love this post! As I read it, I kept saying, "Yes, yes, yes..." after almost every sentence. You have such a way of explaining the unexplainable. : )

    Been praying for you for the 8th.

  5. Thank you Christine! I found out I can speak for 2 minutes - praying that God gives me the words to be concise and impactful because I could speak 10xs that long and just touch the surface :) Praying for your presentation on the 9th too!