Staff Picks: Unqualified

February 2, 2017
Note: Throughout this series one of our staff members will be giving you a recommendation and/or a brief review from the world of music, movies, TV or literature. Hopefully this will serve as a way to see inside the head of our staff members and direct you towards some listening, viewing or reading material for your own personal growth and enjoyment. Today’s post is from our worship director, Dana Ott, on a book she read recently.

Somehow, January has come and gone and here we are looking at a new month and with that a new ‘writer’ for Staff Picks. I was pretty excited to take my turn since I feel like I’m always reading something – usually something that confronts my way of thinking or reminds me of God’s grace or sends me running to Mark with “listen to this…isn’t this an amazing thought?!?” – I’m grateful to have a husband who patiently listens as I read aloud my new found knowledge or challenging concept!

The book I’ve most recently finished is called Unqualified by Steven Furtick. The basis of this book is to remind us how God uses broken people to do big things. Without a doubt, feeling broken and useless is a place we’ve ALL found ourselves at one time or another. We often measure ourselves against a world that sizes us up (and inevitably finds us lacking) or we take one look at our flaws and failures and decide it’s best to cover them up, since we’re certain that these weaknesses would disqualify us for any role we’ve been called to! The author of this book digs into how God’s system of deeming us qualified is so different than the worlds – a life-giving truth for sure!

The life and character of Jacob (brother of Esau, son of Isaac) is something the author weaves through the book as well as other Biblical characters.  It’s pretty amazing that God chose Jacob regardless of the many areas of sin, struggle, and weakness – in fact, Jacob’s weakness is where God showed up and real transformation began in Jacob’s life. I was so challenged by a section called “Winning Through Weakness” where it says, “… God also allows weakness in our lives to create a context that will showcase his strength. Paul said, ‘We have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us’ (2 Corinthians 4:7).” When life is easy sailing, I tend to think I’m doing pretty good on my own but when I feel beaten down or weak, it drives me back to the “all surpassing power” in me — GOD’S strength and not my own. How good of God to strip away the stuff that makes us comfortable so that we find ourselves dependent on Him again? I love the account of Paul where He asks God to please remove the “thorn in my flesh” (2 Corinthians 12) but God’s response is “MY grace is sufficient for you, for MY power is made perfect in weakness”. At the end of the day, I really do want God’s power, goodness, and grace to be on display in my life…so why do I naturally drift toward wanting to be the one holding it all together – or at least give others that impression?

One answer hit me like a brick as I continued to read. The chapter is titled, “The Problem with Pinterest” – which piqued my interest without a doubt! I’m a BIG Pinterest fan…I’m not certain how I ever made a meal, decorated a room, planned a bridal shower, or coordinated an outfit before it was a thing! Maybe you can relate!?! In all seriousness, I’ll continue to pin things to my Pinterest boards without shame, but the point of this chapter is so powerful! Am I living in a ‘comparison’ mentality in a way that has a negative affect? Am I trying to prove my abilities, talents, or worth according to some arbitrary standard? Am I spending my energy and emotions wondering if everybody likes me or thinks I’m doing the right thing? I deeply appreciated the author’s transparency when he shares about a time God answered some of his own “self-worth/comparison” questions just prior to a speaking engagement. He writes, “it was as if the Lord said to me: I didn’t bring you here to meet their expectations. I brought you here to be my expression.” Oh yeah…we’re called to be HIS ambassadors – to love others like He does, to die to ourselves, and to point others to the hope that is found in Him. Such an incredible freedom is found when we start relying on God’s power in our weakness and stop living like we have to measure up. We are “good enough” because we have been chosen, redeemed, and adopted into the family of GOD!  There’s nothing we need to prove and there’s no comparison we need to make. We have a heavenly Father who loves us in all our mess and uses us for His glory and His kingdom! I definitely recommend this book and found it to be a beautiful reminder of the grace and faithfulness of God – and I’ll admit that I dog-eared, highlighted, folded in half, and underlined so many pages that I was actually annoyed with my self! Just keeping it real, people!