I had a divine meeting, on a weekend at our lake house. My next door neighbor at the lake brought his wife’s uncle over to introduce him to me. He was telling this man about my story (more to come on that later) as a young pastor and he wanted to meet me, a fellow pastor. My neighbor’s are from Johannesburg, South Africa and have this really profound dialect and sentence structure, they never say a word unless it is thought out and adds to the conversation and knowledge. So, these two men walk onto our porch as we are singing Jimmy Buffet song’s and playing corn-hole, that’s how you know when your relaxing. My neighbor introduces me to his uncle, Joe. Joe politely sits down and remains quiet as our neighbor jumps in to play corn-hole. I sit down next to Joe and knowing he is a pastor from South Africa, I make a simple comment / question as Southerners like to do, “So your a pastor from South Africa.” In that moment this quiet reserved man turned into the most humble, wise man I have ever met.
I can’t remember much all the details about Joe, I was too captivated on the humility of who he was and what he was saying. I would tell you about Joe, but I will try to get him to tell you his story. But in short, he was a part of a group of pastors that joined forces and served a congregation of 15,000+. He felt the Lord calling him to go to Australia, so he went. He now helps churches restructure their leadership and speaks internationally at conferences. Enough about Joe, he wouldn’t want me to talk about him, he would want me to talk about his King.
So here, is the first lesson I learned from Joe in our short, 30 minute conversation.
He said, “I was born useless. I was useless when I was in the catholic church, I was useless when I joined the team of pastor’s and I am still useless.” He knows people in most every city around the world, London, Paris, New York, Atlanta, Miami, L.A., you name it and he knows someone. However, God sent him to Melbourne, Australia and place that he knew no one. He said, “You know God found a place where I was useless again and sent me there. I could have called Brain Houston from Hillsong at any time, but God didn’t lead me to Sydney.” Here is a man who has trained pastors from around the world, very successful pastors and he calls himself useless. What gives?
Joe understands that the less he gets in the way, the more Jesus can shine. Joe isn’t useless, he is one of the most useful guys I have ever met, look what he has done. Wait, there it is. American culture seeping into God’s Kingdom. That’s is precisely what Joe doesn’t see. Joe never said, “Look at what I have done.” No, Joe said, “I am useless and God is faithful. It is simply the vine and the branches.”
“I am useless and God is faithful. It is simply the vine and the branches.”
John 15:1 & 5 (NIV)
“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener.”
“I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.”
A hammer is can do nothing alone. Neither, can a shovel, grill, pen, airplane, or even a computer. Someone has to pick it up and use it. Another way of saying “you can do nothing”, is “you are useless.”
John 3:30 (NAS)
“He must increase, but I must decrease.”
But I don’t want to be useless. That’s the point, the more you get our of the way; the more you allow God to work, the more used you will be. Just be careful not to think you did it, then you really are useless to God because then you are using you and God will have to fight you to use you.
Originally Posted July 28th, 2009
© Jonathan Haley Uhrig 2014