Over the past year I have learned a valuable skill; how to start a fire. One can start with some dryer lint, scrapings from a twig, fire-starter material, oil or wax soaked cotton balls, or any flammable liquid. However what you can’t do is start a fire with a big piece of wood or log. It doesn’t catch fire very well. As a matter of fact, the many times I have had a campfire, I’ve tried to put a large log on hoping it will keep the fire going for sometime but what I’ve realized is it usually dampens the fire and never really catches itself.
Fires are started by the insignificant and when I say the insignificant I mean that which is relative to their position in the grand scheme of things. In other words, their smallness. However their smallness is in fact exactly what makes them very significant for without their ability to catch fire quickly, each of us would have a very hard time trying to build momentum in our camp fires. It’s the small branches or the small items that begin the fire and creates much heat.
What I’m trying to say through this analogy is you may think you have insignificant abilities. I know I do. Let me be transparent. I have an amazing friend who I think is brilliant. He’s pursuing his doctorate degree. I’ve often said he’s like a sponge; he remembers everything and he’s very capable of seeing through facades and has the ability to discern even when someone is good at hiding.
I have in the past tried to live to his standard because I have felt very insignificant in the light of his wisdom. However I had I had to come to terms that I am not him. I wasn’t made to be him. I wasn’t created by God to live his life. I am not him so why am I trying to live up to his significance? This was a pit that I worked myself into. I was trying to find big logs for the fire that I don’t have. That is matching his wisdom, his discernment, his abilities, all the things I thought that made him great. I was trying to create bonfires. I was finding my significance in his qualities.
Instead of trying to find the great things about him and matching them I needed to find the things about myself that makes me great, my smallness that’s huge in significance and be about them. Instead of trying to be him, I need to be myself. I can be a fire starter too. It’s not the big things in a person’s life that starts the fire. It the small unique things that only we have in ourselves that can start a fire in us and in others.
I lead worship in my church. Other worship leaders would agree that being in leadership especially in a church can feel like a thankless job. People have the expectation that when they show up, they’ll be led in such a way that they leave unchanged without thinking of the work it took in preparation to lead. I recently received a message via Facebook from one of our church members telling me how much he appreciated the work I did and how he feels when I lead him somewhere whether that be out of darkness he’s been feeling or just reassurance that where God has him is where he needs to be.
I can’t light that fire if I’m trying to show off the big logs in my life. That can only start with my insignificance of lessening myself and making God more available to lead in me. As John the Baptist so put it, “May I decrease so that He may increase.” In other words, the insignificant twigs that I bring to the fire ring is my ability to play and sing, listening to God lead in song choice and preparation, being sensitive to the Spirit’s leading during worship, daily bible reading that makes me familiar with God’s character, and simply learning to trust God’s leading. These things seem small and insignificant twigs but that’s exactly what starts a raging fire. Not the big logs of speaking eloquently with $10 Christianese words or prayers in KJV. Not the ability to sing with precision. Not the ability to dress in style. Not the ability to lead ten instruments and 50 chorus members. Not the ability to think deep theologically but to have compassion and love for God’s purpose and glory.
My prayer is that we understand the insignificances of life so that through our weaknesses, our humbleness, our meekness, and our service, God is made great and what seems to be insignificant becomes significant to us so that a fire begins, a roaring fire, one that can’t be stood next too because it brims with hotness, a rising flame that burns all of our pride and selfishness that we have no other purpose than to praise the one who started the fire, namely Jesus!
Paul told Timothy “Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity” (1 Timothy 4:12 NIV). Notice what Paul thought was very significant qualities to have in order to build a fire. I’m willing to bet most think these are insignificant or too small to do any good on today’s culture but that’s exactly what is needed to build a fire. I say don’t look down on yourself because you feel like you are insignificant because what seems insignificant is significant. It’s the small twigs that start the fire. Be a fire starter!