“They don’t rise up to the occasion because the bar has been set for them.” My friend was reflecting on the impact of a sermon he had heard a few days prior. As he continued in his conversation, my heart immediately took hold of the statement as I began to reminiscence on particular periods where people had set the bar for me as well.
If you were to ask me today, Shea, what is one of the greatest obstacles you have had to face? I would say jealousy, hands down. Yet running a close second would be people’s unbelief in me to carry out particular tasks that were placed in front of me.
During my young adult years, I walked into a restaurant one day for lunch. My eyes quickly noticed an individual sitting at a table who had contributed toward my education in high school. On this particular day, the man was joined by three other adults.
After ordering my food, I made my way toward a particular section in the restaurant. Yet as I passed the man’s table, he stated, “Y’all want me to tell you what kind of student Shea was?” As I continued walking, explosive laughter erupted from a joke made at my expense. I was embarrassed, to say the least. But then Jesus.
Little did I know at that moment that Jesus Himself was not finished with my education, (nor my life.) He would set a bar for me so high that it could only be accomplished through Him. He would position me at a place I never dreamed possible in order to carry out His Kingdom’s work.
Years later, through a miraculous intervention by God Himself, I was offered a Presidential scholarship to Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, TX. I earned my Master’s of Art’s Degree in Biblical Counseling. However, the bar did not stop there. Jesus would raise it even higher.
One day, while reading in the passage of Luke 5, the Lord spoke to me about obtaining my Doctorate. I had been praying and seeking Him in the matter. Yet, to be honest, I had set my own bar. Thoughts of going beyond a Master’s Degree frightened me, to say the least. But Jesus was calling me to go higher and deeper with Him and through my studies.
Now it happened that while the crowd was pressing around Him and listening to the word of God, He was standing by the lake of Gennesaret; 2 and He saw two boats lying at the edge of the lake; but the fishermen had gotten out of them and were washing their nets. 3 And He got into one of the boats, which was Simon’s, and asked him to put out a little way from the land. And He sat down and began teaching the people from the boat. 4 When He had finished speaking, He said to Simon, “Put out into the deep water and let down your nets for a catch.” 5 Simon answered and said, “Master, we worked hard all night and caught nothing, but I will do as You say and let down the nets.” 6 When they had done this, they enclosed a great quantity of fish, and their nets began to break; 7 so they signaled to their partners in the other boat for them to come and help them. And they came and filled both of the boats, so that they began to sink. 8 But when Simon Peter saw that, he fell down at Jesus’ feet, saying, “Go away from me Lord, for I am a sinful man!” 9 For amazement had seized him and all his companions because of the catch of fish which they had taken; 10 and so also were James and John, sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon. And Jesus said to Simon, “Do not fear, from now on you will be catching men.” 11 When they had brought their boats to land, they left everything and followed Him. (Luke 5:1-11 NASB)
December of 2020 I am set to graduate with my Doctorate in Family Ministries. I simply refuse to let anyone set my bar but Jesus. (Even though to this day-they still try.)
May I speak truth to you? In a few more weeks, I will turn 53 years old. I have lived enough life to know there will always be people who attempt to set the bar for us in one way or the other. There will be individuals who refuse to believe that we can do anything. There will be those who try and stop us from being used in God’s Kingdom and who even make fun of us to others. Yet hear me loudly! In the midst of all those naysayers, Jesus is raising the bar and calling us to follow Him, not man’s opinion. Be careful who you are listening to. Be careful who you are allowing to have power over your life as to what you are capable of doing.
In closing, remember, God has a plan for your life. Follow Him and let Him set your bar. Let people say what they may. You give heed to the One who created you and watch what He will do with your life. Is He calling you to teach a class? Teach it. Is it calling you to go back to school? Go back. Is He calling you to move to a new location? Move. You will never regret following Jesus. Onward!
–Written by O’Shea