I’ve found that many, if not most, committed Christians spend a lot of their Christian life feeling overwhelmed by guilt over what they are not doing for the kingdom of God. It’s not that they are simply giving Jesus nominal allegiance. No, they live sacrificially; they give to the mission of God; they are intensely busy for the kingdom. And yet, many of these warriors for Christ quickly go from sold out to burned out. After a zealous start, they end up feeling paralyzed by the needs of the world. So they toggle between summers of feverish activity and winters of guilt and fatigue.
I know, because I’ve been there myself. No matter what I gave, there was always more that was needed: one more child to free from the sex trade . . . one more unreached people group to target . . . one more person to tell about Jesus. We read Jesus’ words about His yoke as being easy and His burden light, and we genuinely have no idea what He’s talking about. For many of us, discipleship feels like drudgery.
The burden of such a conviction nearly crushed me. The more I considered the enormous scope of God’s mission in the world, the less I felt motivated to do. It seemed that I had so little to offer in light of such great need—so why even try? Who wants to try to empty the ocean with a thimble?
My despair drove me to the Scriptures, and that despair eventually gave way to one of the most surprising insights I’ve ever had, one that has radically redefined how I see my service to Christ. This discovery turned drudgery and guilt into freedom and joy—and ironically, has led to more generous living than any resolve to “be radical” ever did.
Let me warn you: it is completely counterintuitive. Brace yourself! Here it is: God doesn’t need you! Never has. Never will. For anything. Ever.
It turns out I had vastly overestimated what I had to contribute. I didn’t have “more” I needed to give; I actually had nothing God needed to begin with. Nothing.
God is not looking for “helpers” to assist Him in saving the world. Yes, He still calls us to give ourselves generously to that mission and to be sacrificially generous with our neighbors. But not because He’s short on money, talent, or time. “And if I ever did need anything,” He says, “I wouldn’t tell you!” (see Ps. 50:12).
God has never commanded us to go save the world for Him; He calls us to follow Him as he saves the world through us. So instead of asking the question, “What needs to be done in the world?” we must ask, “What is the Spirit of God leading me to do?” Just as Jesus told His Apostles to wait on the coming of the Holy Spirit before they went out to the world, we are to look to the Holy Spirit for His direction in His Word as to what God would have us do.