Barney the Beefeater, our "ambassador" at the Tower of London, London, England

A different perspective on being an ambassador

Ambassadors are everywhere. We just don’t think about them. I mean, when I think of ambassadors in general, I think of government officials who travel to other countries to represent their home country. I think of politics in general. The term ambassador conjures up all sorts of political symbols and hierarchies that I learned about in high school. But if you think about it, an ambassador can be anyone who represents someone else.

Anyone into Mary Kay cosmetics? I know people who are. Your Mary Kay consultant is an ambassador. And how about the Boy Scouts? Going door to door selling popcorn? They’re ambassadors too. Car salesmen. Customer service representatives. Anyone with a face to a potential customer is an ambassador.

It’s kind of overwhelming if you think about it, especially when you let yourself realize that as a follower of Christ, we are Christ’s ambassadors. We are here to represent Him to the world.

Barney the Beefeater, our "ambassador" at the Tower of London, London, England

Barney the Beefeater, our “ambassador” at the Tower of London, London, England

Today’s verses are 2 Corinthians 5:20-21.

So we are Christ’s ambassadors; God is making his appeal through us. We speak for Christ when we plead, “Come back to God!” For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ.

The first thing I think about when I read these verses is what a stunning responsibility this is. To be Christ’s ambassador? To be Christ’s voice to a world that doesn’t know Him? That’s huge. That’s intimidating on a level beyond terror. If you have chosen to trust Jesus for your salvation, that means you are His voice. You are His representative to the people in your life.

Scared yet?

It terrifies me. That’s a lot of responsibility. That’s a lot to live up to. Because when people see me, they’re supposed to see Christ. When people hear me speak, they’re supposed to hear Christ. When I interact with people, they’re supposed to know that Jesus loves them and that He died for them and that He wants to have a relationship with them. And that’s a tall order from a girl who prefers to hide in the corner at social events.

And that’s where my brain goes automatically. How on earth can I meet those expectations? Well, no, let’s be honest here. My brain goes instantly to wondering how I can exceed those expectations. Merely meeting expectations has never been good enough for me; I have to blast the roof off people’s expectations or I feel ashamed of myself. So because my focus is exceeding the expectations (the rules, the regulations, etc.), I start plotting and planning how I can manipulate a circumstance or a situation so that I can control the outcome.

I’m focusing on my performance. I’m focusing on my actions. I’m focusing on what I need to do to make God happy with me. Anyone see my performance-driven perfectionist self rearing its ugly head anywhere in this?

Well, here’s something I realized today. Granted, it’s something I’ve always known, but it hit home with me today on a level that I hadn’t understood before. I am God’s ambassador.

Yes, news flash, I just said that above. But in my mind there are two perspectives to being an ambassador. One, you have to be careful and watch what you say and how you act because you represent an authority in your life. That’s true. That’s 100% true. But that’s not all there is to it. If you are an ambassador, you were chosen for the job.

Now, before you religious scholars get up in arms, I’m not going to get all theological about this. I could. But the purpose of this blog is to provide a place of encouragement, not only for me but for anyone who is searching. And I don’t intend to start a theological discussion about Calvinism vs. Armenianism vs. any-other-isms that are floating around in the world.

What I’m trying to communicate here is that Christ-followers have been chosen to represent Jesus in the world, just like ambassadors. You don’t get to be an ambassador just because you put on a fancy suit and can give pretty speeches or you have a good handshake. No. You apply for the job, and you’re selected for the position. Why? Because your authority, your boss, has seen the potential that you have and wants you to be his representative.

If you have accepted Christ, God calls you one of Christ’s ambassadors. You have something that you can use to reach out to the world and tell them about Jesus, and it’s not something that anyone else can do. So to all you performance-driven perfectionists out there who are running yourselves into the ground trying to make God happy with your list of accomplishments, this is the heart of what I learned today: Stop. God has already given you the job as His ambassador, so stop treating Him like you’re applying for the position. Stop stressing yourself out over whether or not you’re good enough. Stop worrying yourself bald over what you’re going to say or how you’re going to say it or what other people are going to think about you.

Just do the job. Just live for Him. Love for Him. Help others for Him. And stop worrying about whether you’re going to do a good enough job or not. Because it’s not about you. It’s about Him.

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Pretty pink flowers at the Dallas Arboretum, Dallas, TX

God is exalted in our stillness

I’m busy. I’m beyond busy. I make a headless chicken look calm and organized. There are so many things going on in my life right now, and most of them are good. Some of them don’t meet the traditional definition of good, but I’m trusting that God will take care of that.

But I learned something at the writing workshop that I attended this year, and really it didn’t have much to do with writing.

Pretty pink flowers at the Dallas Arboretum, Dallas, TX

Pretty pink flowers at the Dallas Arboretum, Dallas, TX

Today’s verse is Psalm 46:10.

“Be still, and know that I am God!
    I will be honored by every nation.
    I will be honored throughout the world.”

This is part of the large passage I put up yesterday, but this verse is so good, I wanted to revisit it. The first line is familiar. It appears in many other places throughout scripture. I think one of the first places is in the Book of Exodus when Moses and the Israelites are trapped between Pharoah and the Red Sea. But it also appears here.

At the writing workshop this year, the presenters really focused their keynote sessions on resting and peace. They don’t tell us exactly what we’re going to be hearing when we sign up, so I wasn’t sure what to expect. And I ended up bawling through most sessions because peace is something I really need, but as a performance-driven perfectionist it’s something I usually deny myself.

So when this verse came up–and subsequent statements about living in God rather than working for Him–I started seeing this statement from a different perspective.

Be still. Know that He is God. And He will be exalted.

Do you read any stress in that statement? Do you see anywhere in that statement (notice the quote marks) where God is saying we have to work ourselves into a pit for Him to be exalted? No.

See, that’s what’s amazing about God is that He will be exalted whether we work for Him or not. He will be exalted whether we acknowledge Him or not. I mean, for Pete’s sake, even rocks rejoice and give Him praise. He doesn’t need us to. He wants us to. He wants to have a relationship with us more than anything, but He doesn’t need us to be exalted.

I run myself into the ground on a daily basis. Sometimes on an hourly basis. And while I don’t think I’m wrong to live that way, I shouldn’t do it all the time. I don’t take sabbaths. I don’t ever slow down.

Well, I shouldn’t say not ever because I’ve had to. Some health issues have finally forced me to take a breather–health issues related to the amount of stress I put myself under. And the irony of my stress is that usually it’s self-inflicted. I expect so much more of myself than anybody else does. I set impossible goals, and then I kill myself trying to exceed expectations.

No, it’s not wrong. Yes, we should always do our best. But God doesn’t say stress yourself out so I can be exalted. He says be still, know He’s God, and He’ll take care of it.

So how are you doing on that score? Being still is more difficult than it sounds. Knowing God is God? You wouldn’t think that’s hard, but it’s not easy either. Why? People don’t like standing still, and people don’t trust very easily. Not really. It’s not our default setting.  They’re both choices we have to make.

Be still. Know God. That’s all we have to do.

Are you stressed out today? Have you worn yourself out working for God? Have you driven yourself to the edge of your sanity trying to accomplish a goal you set so that God will be pleased with you?

Guess what? God doesn’t need you. And maybe He’s called you to do something, and that’s great. And it’s great that you want to do your best for Him. But He never calls you do something alone.

So stop stressing out. Be still. Know God. He’ll be exalted. And actually, He will be exalted more in your stillness than He would have been in your stress.