Each of us has a few old sayings we heard in our homes that stick in our mind and come back to haunt us years later. Do you recall some you used to hear? I still hear my past reminding me, "Always clean up your plate!" "If a thing's worth doing, it's worth doing right!" Sound familiar? If you ask our children what they remember, they will not easily forget "Maximize your potential!"
Frequently after completing a responsibility, such as taking out the trash, we would ask: "Did you maximize your potential?" That became the standard for every responsibility. If grades were the issue, we weren't too concerned whether they were A's or C's. What we wanted to know was, "Did you do your best?"
We eventually backed off this focus because it wasn't always understood. It was never our intent to send people on a guilt trip because they didn't always do their best at everything equally. No one has the time nor the ability to do everything; much less to do everything well. Maximizing your potential involves doing your best, taking into account your abilities, priorities, and time available. There are lots of things I have to do that I might do better if I had more time. Maximizing my potential means using the time I have effectively to accomplish what pleases God.
The principle is true whether we’re talking about ministry or daily living. God wants us to do our best with the resources He has given us. He never holds us accountable for abilities He hasn't given us, nor for time we don't have. He asks us to be faithful in our use of the abilities He has given us (1 Cor. 4:1-2). In short, to maximize our potential.
Jim Elliot said it well: "Wherever you are, be all there. Live to the hilt every situation you believe to be the will of God." David maximized his potential when he brought the ark up to Jerusalem. He committed himself totally to restoration of the ark and to the worship of Yahweh.
Paul emphasizes the same point: "Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men; knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance. It is the Lord Christ whom you serve" (Col. 3:23-24).
Peter adds this perspective: "Whoever speaks, let him speak, as it were, the utterances of God; whoever serves, let him do so as by the strength which God supplies; so that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belongs the glory and dominion forever and ever" (1 Pet. 4:11).
How about us? Are we maximizing our potential? Are we using the resources God placed in our hands for His glory? If we aren't, the question should prod us to action. If we are, it could put an end to a guilt trip we never should have taken!
The Union Church of Guatemala
Leaders & Church Staff
Dr. Ralph Porter
Women's Ministry President