By Mutua Mahiaini
We’re surrounded by “spiritual heroes,” men and women who in faith have accomplished great things for the Lord. Last week, my wife, Stephanie, and I spent several days with leaders of other Christian missions, and we were blessed by stories of modern-day heroes who are advancing the Gospel, sometimes in very challenging situations.
Some of my heroes include Dawson Trotman, the founder of The Navigators, and Lorne Sanny, his successor. I also draw great inspiration from my two immediate predecessors, Jerry White and Mike Treneer. I could also mention many co-laborers in the Navigator work around the world today.
Reflecting on the legacy of great men and women of faith should lead us to imitate their faith (Hebrews 13:7). But there is a danger: Comparing ourselves to our heroes might lead us to withdraw from serving God because we don’t think we measure up.
Consider Moses’ responses when God came to him in a burning bush. The Lord called him to fulfill a seemingly impossible task: to confront the king of Egypt and to lead thousands of enslaved Israelites to freedom (Exodus 3:7–10).
Put yourself in Moses’ shoes. Wouldn’t it have been extraordinarily arrogant for Moses to accept this role? That appears to have been Moses’ first thought, for he responded to God by saying: “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?” (Exodus 3:11). I’m sure I would have said the same thing had I been standing next to that burning bush.
And yet, Moses was looking at the situation only through the narrow lens of his weaknesses. As a result, he said, “Who am I?” God responded to Moses by expanding his narrow, human perspective. He opened up Moses’ view by saying, “I will be with you” (Exodus 3:12). Those five words changed everything. The God of heaven and the earth would be with him, so the Pharaoh and his army could not prevail.
Moses had to decide: Will I respond on the basis of my human weaknesses or will I respond in faith in God’s power and presence? We all face choices like Moses did.
This story helps me see that living by faith in God’s power and promises is not arrogant. Rather, faith leads me to make room for God to act according to His purposes—despite my weaknesses. Humility leads me to submit to whatever He calls me to do, and to trust Him to help me fulfill that call.
How can we focus on God’s power rather than ourselves? Paul wrote: “To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, he will give eternal life” (Romans 2:7). John Stott explains that glory is the manifestation of God Himself, honor is God’s approval, and immortality is the unfading joy of His presence. God has hardwired these three quests—glory, honor, and immortality—in every human being. The key is to persistently pursue God’s glory, not our own.
Paul also said, “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31). This scripture reveals that the grandiosity or simplicity of what we do is not important. How we measure up in comparison to the spiritual heroes we admire is not important. God wants us to do everything, even small things, for one purpose: to manifest His glory to the world around us.
By living for God’s glory, we avoid two dangers. First, we don’t allow our human weaknesses to determine how we serve God. As God calls us, we can step forward in bold faith, trusting that He will demonstrate His power through our weaknesses.
Second, living for God’s glory keeps us from living for selfish ambitions, which is meaningless. To pursue God’s glory, we must surrender our selfishness to His will. And that is the essence of humility, worship, and meaning.
Mutua is the International President of The Navigators.