Frustrated Faith

Steven Furtick on why you can drop the guilt and move on to something greater.

I wonder if I’ll always remember that my two sons and I had just shared kung pao shrimp at P.F. Chang’s when I stopped in my tracks on the way out the door. I had to make sure I had correctly read the words that were scrolling across every television within sight: Apple founder Steve Jobs—dead at 56.

I can’t explain why, but my hands were shaky and sweaty as I pulled my iPhone out of my pocket to verify.

When I stack it all up, I don’t feel like I’m anything close to being the great man of God I want to be.

One of the first things I saw was a statement from President Obama. He said that Steve Jobs “was among the greatest of American innovators.” That “he transformed our lives, redefined entire industries, and achieved one of the rarest feats in human history: he changed the way each of us sees the world.”

My next thoughts made my stomach hurt. Or was it the kung pao? Either way, I got downright introspective. I was wrestling with a tension:

Steve Jobs was a great man. He changed the world through technology.

I’m a pastor. I have a mission to change the world through the Gospel. But am I really achieving that mission? I’m doing well by some standards, I guess. I love Jesus. I have integrity. I love my family. But still ... I’m not redefining an industry. I’m not accomplishing one of the greatest feats in human history. So what am I really doing? That matters? That will matter? That will set my life apart?

In short, I was processing the nauseating feeling that, when I stack it all up, I don’t feel like I’m anything close to being the great man of God I want to be. Some days, actually, I feel like I sort of suck as a Christian.

God’s greatness will not just be working around you—it will start working through you.

For some reason I felt compelled to pull up a certain Bible verse.

It’s one of the most staggering statements Jesus ever made.

“I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father” (John 14:12).

I’d read that verse so many times. But I had a new context for it. And it sliced me with the edge of fresh challenge.

Greater things than Jesus, the greatest man who ever lived? What does that even mean? How can we do greater things than Jesus?

Does it mean that we’re able to do more powerful miracles than Jesus? Have a bigger impact than Jesus? I don’t think so.

After all, I don’t know many people who have walked on water, multiplied fish and loaves to feed thousands, opened the eyes of the blind, or given salvation to the world.

Jesus isn’t calling us to be greater than He is. He’s calling us to be greater with Him through His Spirit within us. The fact is, we are so much better than we’ve become,
because God is so much greater than we’re allowing Him to be through us.

Let me give you a simple way to look at this tension in our faith.

Good enough = the baseline living marked by mediocrity, being stuck in spiritual survival mode, and being controlled by complacency.

Greatness = the vague, unrealistic aspirations of doing better that don’t work in real life.

Good enough leaves you stuck in stagnation. Grasping for greatness leads to endless frustration. But greater is a third way.

Greater = the life-altering understanding that God is ready to accomplish a kind of greatness in your life that is entirely out of human reach. Beyond Steve Jobs. Beyond what you see in yourself on your best day. But exactly what God has seen in you all along.

Personally, I’ve decided to give up on my aspirations for greatness and legalistic expectations of Christian perfection. Not because I’ve given up on getting to the place God has called me to. But because I’ve found a better way to get there. A way that actually works.

It starts here, with a question: Are you ready to open your imagination to the possibility that God has a vision for your life that is greater?

And when you live this way—the greater way—God will empower you with the confidence to know that nothing is impossible with Him, the clarity to see the next step He’s calling you to take and the courage to do anything He tells you to do.

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You’ll begin to get a real sense of what greater things God wants to do in your life. Maybe God will call you to make a major life change. Or maybe He simply wants you to come at your present life with greater passion from a fresh perspective.

Either way, the pathway to God’s best is paved with faith. If you choose to come this way, don’t expect a final destination where you can announce, “Now I’m officially greater for God!” Because the call to be greater is the call to walk with God Himself.

God’s greatness will not just be working around you—it will start working through you. The result will be a life of greater effectiveness. Greater impact. Greater vision. And it’s important to embrace the joy of the journey, because the destination is a mirage.

That’s the thing about God’s leading in our lives. It’s not static. It’s not automatic. But it’s imminent. And it has the potential to change everything.

Excerpted from Greater by Steven Furtick © 2012 Excerpted by permission of Multnomah Books, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved.



Moses commented…

Pastor Steve,

This is off the chain by the grace of God! God bless you and fill you in Jesus name!



BerryLemonade commented…

It's kind of misleading to me, that people who are still hanging onto the greater degree of faith. However in the past 10 years or so, there are larger degree of my associates including myself who have been losing grip.

Such frustration is partially due to internal needs to re-evaluate ourselves, feeling loss, having the wrong goals and the inability to transcend in the midst of struggles as the article has stated. On the other hand, I wonder how many ministers and leaders are getting to the roots of the problems, challenging young people in pragmatic manners instead of solely feeding them the glorious ideals.

While being idealistic is not a crime, it seems as if though we are still missing giant links between "How to go about exactly what issues?" The concept of "listening to God" becomes more vague these days for a spiritual person. Sometimes our understanding of what is INTENDED to be good, may actually do further damage in our society.

So how is it that we should go about the pragmatic aspect in addition to practising faith?



Anonymous commented…

Love it!! Now I def want to read the GREATER book :)


Anonymous commented…

It's a bit weird that you start off a "being greater" article with a bit about Steve Jobs. The man was a liar (contrary to what his distortion field would have you believe, he did not invent the MP3 player, the smartphone, or the tablet), a thief (both of money from his early partner and probably only friend, Steve Wozniak; and of ideas), a megalomaniac, and gave absolutely none of his earned profit to charity (as evidenced by the recently revealed private yacht he never got to sail in).

While I wholly agree with the article about being greater through the power of the Holy Spirit, and not being the greatest or simply surviving, having Jobs as the piece by which you prefaced the idea of the article is a little off. You could really not do a great deal of good in your life and still be "greater" than Steve Jobs ever was.


Cristhian Mejia commented…

I've been a Christian for little over two years and I would say me right now is less than "Good Enough" - (Good enough = the baseline living marked by mediocrity, being stuck in
spiritual survival mode, and being controlled by complacency.)I feel stagnant and lacking. This article really puts lots of things into perspective. I need to stop the guilt feeling and move on to that greatness God wants for me that I can only achieve through Jesus.

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