Proverbs 3:5,6 (ESV) instructs us to: ”Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.” It’s okay to use your understanding, but not lean on it. Likewise it’s okay to use your spiritual gifts but not lean on them, depending instead on God’s grace in life and ministry.
The bottom-line question to ask: Is the focus of your ministry on the gift or on the giver?
It’s a fine balance…a delicate dance.
When I was a younger leader, I knew nothing and I knew that I knew nothing. It led me to become grace-dependent. But, as I got older and more experienced, the more tempting it was to become gift-dependent and experience-dependent.
I desire to grow in:
Paul makes a distinction between gift and grace dependency in 1 Corinthians 3:5-7: “What then is Apollos? What is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, as the Lord assigned to each. I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth.” It’s not men and their gifts, but God and his grace that makes things happen!
On the same theme and in the same book, 1 Corinthians 15:10 in The Message reads:
“But because God was so gracious, so very generous, here I am. And I’m not about to let his grace go to waste. Haven’t I worked hard trying to do more than any of the others? Even then, my work didn’t amount to all that much. It was God giving me the work to do, God giving me the energy to do it.” (Underlining mine)
My prayer for myself, and others, is to be led by him, empowered by him and honoring him-- that is, to be grace-dependent rather than gift-dependent.
Here are some ways to tell the difference:
Five characteristics of gift-dependent leaders
Five characteristics of grace-dependent leaders