The Liberating Truth of Limits

In two months, two high-profile megachurch celebrity pastors have resigned from their churches. What’s going on? Well, it’s easy to become unbalanced and unhealthy. It’s easy to overextend and heap way too much significance on the shoulders of one individual.

It’s easy to mix mission (what God is calling us to do) with ambition (what I feel like I need to do in order to be significant, someone, enough).

“Because then I would be enough.”

These are the words of Jim Carrey – presenting at the Golden Globes – making fun of himself and the whole spectacle that is celebrity award shows…

He said, “And when I dream, I don’t just dream any old dream. No sir. I dream about being three-time Golden Globe winning actor Jim Carrey. Because then I would be enough. It would finally be true. And I could stop this terrible search… for what I know ultimately won’t fulfill me.”

This, in my opinion is Carrey at his best. Pure comedic genius. His timing, his carefully chosen words… perfect. And hilarious.

But also, poignant. Challenging. Truth-telling.

This terrible search to be enough is one that we all know well.

I know it well.

But I also am beginning to discover the liberating truth of limits. That I have limits. I’m not everything – never have been, and I never will be. I’m not an expert or guru on life.

I’m not a business mogul, a marriage and family therapist, a financial guru, a marketing and advertising professional, or a cultural architect.

I have limitations. And I am enough. God isn’t calling me to be something or someone else. I’m not lacking something before I can really be somebody.

This, to me, is the liberating truth of limits.

I’d rather be limited me, in plain view for all to see, than the Wizard of Oz projected larger-than-life on a screen but hiding my actual smallness behind a curtain.

Some time ago, I was listening to Jonathan Martin talk about the “Myth of Moses.”

Here are a few summarized bits of what he said…

  • In the Old Testament account, we only hear that Moses put a veil over his face because he’d just been with God – and radiated the glory of God so much that the people couldn’t even look at him. It was as if the veil protected the people from getting too much of God from Moses.
  • In 2 Corinthians chapter 3, Paul throws Moses under the bus. He says Moses put a veil over his face, essentially to hide the fact that God’s glory was fading from him. Moses wanted to veil his humanity. He wanted people to think God’s presence and glory was tied up with him all the time.
  • At a recent church growth conference, the experts explained why churches need to have cameras and big screens as soon as possible – regardless of  how small the church might be – because “people want their pastors to be larger than life.”
  • In The Wizard of Oz, Toto the dog pulls back the curtain and exposes the man behind it – an average, middle-aged man (who was nothing like the great wizard projected on the big screen).
  • Jesus, the only one whose glory never fades—and who is, in fact, God Himself—rode into the great city of Jerusalem on a borrowed young donkey. Instead of a glorious parade with fireworks and royal carriages, Jesus makes the most understated and humble king’s entrance among his people.

The big point of what Jonathan Martin was saying is this:

I don’t want to do the Moses thing – perpetuating the myth that the presence and glory of God is tied up in me. Rather than veiling my humanity, I’d rather it be known that I’m just a man like any other man. I’m no hero. There’s only one hero, and his name is Jesus.

Yes. The liberating truth of limits.

In the wake of the news of another celebrity pastor’s resignation, Skye Jethani shared this video: Why Are There So Many Celebrity Pastors?”

Question: How are you discovering the liberating truth of limits in your life?

I am a husband, father, pastor, leader & reader. I love God, love people & love life.

2 Comments to The Liberating Truth of Limits

  1. Brian, if you have not already done so, you might enjoy reading about Frank Baum, the author of The Wizard of Oz. He spent years working in various “respectable” vocations – for which he was entirely unsuited – before he embraced his true calling as a storyteller. The women in his life understood his vocation before he did. :0)

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