Why am I always a spectator?

December 31, 2019

Ephesians 4:16 “from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.”

When you were a child, did you enjoy playing the game Hide and Seek? I did. I did not enjoy being the seeker, but I loved searching for the perfect place to hide—a place so ideal no one could find me. I could remain still and quiet, waiting as long as it took to be discovered.

Astonishingly, I see how I exercised this childhood game as an adult. Deeply desiring people’s approval, I hid the talents and abilities God created in me. I stayed still and quiet, longing for someone to seek the places God created in me for His service. If someone called out the gifts, if they continued to give their approval, then I could move forward because, at that time in my life, their approval mattered more to me than God’s. It is hard to write these words, but it is true.

Do you hide the talents and abilities God has given you? If so, why?

If we deeply desire other’s approval over God’s, we may remain a spectator. It is safer on the sideline. Instead of coming together in the body of Christ in love, we hide our gifts. We choose to be alone rather than risk the chance of people’s disapproval—the chance of being hurt.

I have learned the fear of disapproval is not just one fear but layers of fears stacked one on top of the other.

  • Fear of failure.
  • Fear of being a disappointment.
  • Fear of not doing a good job.
  • Fear of embarrassment.
  • Fear of letting people down.  
  • Fear of being misunderstood.
  • Fear of people talking behind your back.
  • Fear of not being good enough.
  • Fear of being inexperienced.
  • Fear of being inadequate.
  • Fear of being told you are not needed.
  • Fear of being dismissed.
  • Fear of being unwanted.
  • Fear of being discarded.

Your fears may not be unfounded. Perhaps you experienced a childhood in which a parent believed perfection defined your worth. Maybe you had a coach whose criticism led you to believe people only found mistakes in losers. You may have been employed in a hostile environment where perfection was the only acceptable answer.  

It is easy to believe people’s approval is the definition of our worth. Our world can operate this way. When followers of Christ live with this belief, it is detrimental to the Kingdom of God. God creates each of us with unique gifts. When we come together as the Body of Christ, our gifts work together for His goodness to be displayed to the world.

God desires us to delight in Him, not hide in fear. Fear creates what-if questions like: “What if I embarrass myself?” “What if I make a mistake?”

What if instead of living the what ifs of fear, we grasped something new of God?

  • What if when we see failure–God sees growth in our character?
  • What if when we see disappointment–God sees us stepping out in faith?
  • What if when we see we must do better–God sees us relying on His strength?
  • What if when we see embarrassment–God reveals our identity in Him?
  • What if when we see we are letting people down–God sees us putting Him first?
  • What if when we see being misunderstood–God sees us understanding Him more?
  • What if when we see people talking behind our back– God sees us learning to forgive?
  • What if when we see not being good enough–God sees an opportunity for us to learn we are good enough in Him?
  • What if when we see inexperience and inadequacy– God sees an opportunity for us to grow in dependence on the Holy Spirit?
  • What if when we see not being needed–God sees a different place He is growing us to serve?
  • What if we see ourselves being dismissed, unwanted, or discarded– God sees us growing in love rather than bitterness?

In the childhood game of Hide and Seek, a person seeks the hidden. If we seek God, His purposes, His plans, His design over people’s approval, then the temptation to hide gives way to the blessing of being a part of His work in the world.

The enemy of our soul wants us to bury our gifts in fear. He wants us to cower. As we cower, he can cover us in his condemnation which only increases our fears. Condemnation does not come from Christ. Condemnation is not the work of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit calls us to growth. The goodness of God encourages us to let go of lies and follow in faith. God desires the world to see Him through our lives, but His light cannot shine through us if we bury our gifts.

What gifts are you burying in fear?

Maybe instead of burying your gifts, you live hiding, wishing, and wanting the gifts of someone else. Maybe the approval you seek causes you to imagine approval only comes to those with certain gifts. Our world does not do a good job of encouraging those behind the scenes. It is easier to applaud those in the spotlight, but the light of Christ shines brightest when His followers come together in love and share His love with the world. Each of us can become aware of every person involved in the work, and regardless of whether the gift is seen or one that is behind the scenes, we can encourage one another. The more encouragement we share, the more people will come out of hiding and see more of God.

I remember when one nonfunctioning Christmas bulb would darken an entire strand. If one Christmas light quit working, the whole string would fail. One small unworking light could create a whole thread of unworking lights. It is the same with us. If we hide the light of Christ in us by hiding away our gifts, the Body of Christ misses an essential working part.

Why am I always a spectator?

I pray each of us who are tempted to hide our gifts looks to God. I pray we let go of our fears and seek God for His love, goodness, and grace. I pray instead of believing lies; we believe God’s Word. I pray we follow Him wherever He leads. I pray we trust Him, grab onto Him in faith and take a step off the sidelines. I pray we encourage and lift one another in prayer. Every person has worth in God the Father. In His Son Jesus, we have been given life. Let’s live life to the fullest this year. Let’s live dependent upon the Spirit, not in fear.

Leave a comment, I’d love to hear your thoughts.


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