Would I be content to be a fingernail in a body or would I insist on being an eye? The Bible uses this analogy to poke at our human tendency towards comparison and discontentment even within the church (1Cor 12). Somehow I can laugh off my brother’s desire to be an eye rather than an ear or a foot rather than a hand. But the truth is Paul wrote about it because it is so universally human to want someone else’s giftings or to feel useless if we aren’t playing a more significant part.
Come on! You know it’s true. We’d all like to repress our own thoughts of inferiority and quash our longings for more significant roles or recognition. Some of us do a better job than others at winning the battle over needing recognition. Some of us are so secure we can work behind the scenes and know we are significant. Others quiver at playing a servant role without appreciation and impatiently await recognition and promotion.
Why this drive for significance? I’m not sure if our culture feeds the flame of longing for significance or if our culture simply accommodates that human need. It certainly seems as if our school programs are pushing our youth to make a mark on their world and television ads harangue us with what we need to be of value in our culture. It’s also possible that trendy theology nurtures a discontentment with simple whole-hearted service and instead charges believers with a greed for mega doses of personal destiny and significance.
I’m grappling with a few questions. Firstly, who is in charge of my destiny? Is it really me or is it God. And if it is God, as I’ve been raised to believe, am I content with what God has planned for me regardless of whether it involves recognition, honor, or promotion? In other words, what if God really does want me to be a fingernail in his Kingdom? What if that is what he decides my role should be even when he knows I may be smashed, broken, or ignored? Such an assignment will truly test who is really driving my life, where my security lies, and how well I handle the very human greed for significance.
And God does need fingernails, and liver cells, and heels, and armpits. He needs faithful Christians who share with their neighbors; he needs office workers who pray for their work mates; and he needs people committed to care for the despised and neglected of the world. When the curtain is pulled back and we truly see from a heavenly perspective, we will see the childish nature of our search for significance. Meanwhile, God, give me the grace to confidently serve whomever and wherever you want without demanding that you fulfill my human greed for significance.