God's Six Sharpening Stones
Updated: Apr 22
Brand-new pencils with good erasers must be sharpened to unlock their full potential. Similarly, God sharpens you to unlock your full ministry potential. He does it through circumstances, relationships, faith-obedience tests, study, evaluated practice, and vision.
God uses circumstances to remove the trash of your un-Jesus-like character traits. The Father used the Garden of Gethsemane to whittle away the last shaving of resistance Jesus had to go to the cross in our place. “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will” (Matthew 26:39, NIV).
God often uses painful circumstances to equip you for the good works He prepared in advance for you to do (Ephesians 2:10). It’s spiritual “cancer” surgery. His healers have scars.
God uses relationships to sharpen you. Being “with Jesus” equipped His disciples to continue His mission (Acts 4:13). You are “with Jesus” when you allow consistent time in His word and in prayer to sharpen you. Learning from and ministering with more mature believers also equips you to serve. Paul wrote, “Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice” (Philippians 4:9, NIV).
Faith is a living, growing trust in God’s character and promises. He strengthens it by providing opportunities to exercise it to overcome trials. “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything” (James 1:2-4, NIV). God sharpens you to develop faith that doesn’t quit.
Studying equips you to become a more effective servant. One of the best preachers I know studies to deliver his sermons without notes so that God’s word can significantly impact his audience (2 Timothy 2:15).
My ministry is communicating Christian principles through the written word. It takes me three or four hours to write a 500-word blog. I might read over it twenty times before I post it, changing it every time to communicate as effectively as possible. However you serve others, studying enables you to do it better.
The day I wrote this blog, a technician fixed my heating system. I thought I knew what was wrong. Not even close! It took him two minutes to diagnose the problem and twenty more to fix it. He has seventeen years of experience.
Evaluated experience is best. I consider almost everything by asking, “How can I do this better?” I suggest you do the same, especially concerning your ministry. Judas had more than three years of the highest possible quality ministry experience. But it was unevaluated and wasted.
Vision fuels your ministry with energy and motivation. It enables you to see your part in helping make more and better disciples (Matthew 28:18–20) before it happens. Expect surprises. God “is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us” (Ephesians 3:20, NIV). God uses at least these six stones to unlock your full ministry potential.
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Photo: K. Mitch Hodge | Unsplash