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The Ugly Truth About Me

I have a confession to make.

I’m not nearly as spiritual, righteous or holy as you might think. Over the years I’ve gotten pretty good at making things look  better on the outside than they are on the inside. The reality is that I still struggle with the basic ugly stuff of sin on the inside.

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My confession

I’ve had times over the past year when I felt so lazy that I didn’t want to bother myself to get up and discipline the kids or help out with the dishes.

There were a few times that I got angry when I should have remained calm and a few other times when I should have been angry but instead I remained apathetic.

There were times when my selfishness got the best of me and instead of giving myself in ministry to others I found excuses so that I could do something for myself.

There were other times when I replied to my family sharply in an unloving way instead of carefully listening and engaging them as a loving father.

Often instead of turning to God in prayer to help in a difficult circumstance I simply put myself into the work and tried to figure it out with on my own.

Why am I telling you all of this?

Because it’s the truth and it’s humbling.

Looking back is always humbling. It’s humbling to see how God worked in us and through us. It’s humbling to recognize our failures and realize how God used them for his good. It’s humbling to know that we are a small part of God’s greater plan.

As Christina and I reviewed 2013 we realized that there were many areas in our lives that needed improvement. We saw how often we had failed to meet others expectations, our own expectations and most importantly God’s expectations!

One word

We also decided to take one word that we would focus our lives on throughout 2014.

We chose the word: Humility

(If you want to choose a word for 2014 I recommend starting here)

What God did despite the failures

Yes, our mistakes and failures have humbled us but what humbled us even more is realizing that God used us despite our weakness.  Below is a short list with links of some pretty amazing things that God accomplished through us in 2013

Question: How did God use your failures for his good in 2013? Do you have a word you are focusing on in 2014?

 

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I am a pastor, missionary, and preacher of the Gospel of Jesus Christ in Ukraine since 2007. God blessed me with a wonderful wife and 5 amazing children! My greatest passion is to teach, encourage, and exhort others to turn to Jesus, who is Savior, Lord, and God!

43 Responses
  • Nancy J.
    January 16, 2014

    Failure is a tough word. I recall reading somewhere that people who fail are those who are not afraid to launch out into the deep. For me my failure this year was to meet my self imposed deadline to finish the final copy of the Relationship Workshop and to have the online course ready. Now because of my choice of not focusing on what is important versus what is urgent I am required to move faster. I self imposed a new deadline for the workshop, and the final edit. The word the Lord gave me for this year is, “engage.” For me to engage means to stay in relationships even when they are tough.

    • Caleb
      January 16, 2014

      I like the word you chose Nancy. “Engage” is something I could also work on. It’s often so much easier to disengage from the world around us.

  • Kimberly A Edwards
    January 16, 2014

    Honestly, Caleb… My 2013 was downright rotten. My 2014 doesn’t seem like it’s getting off to the best start either. But, hey, maybe that’s just me… So, my one word and verse to match can be read here:
    http://kaeakingskid.blogspot.com/2013/12/My-One-Word-For-2014.html

    I’m working on it with God as the pilot. At this point, I’m only a passenger on His flight.

    • Caleb
      January 16, 2014

      Kimberly, I will pray that your 2014 is much better than 2013! I’m heading over to check out your post right now.

  • Paul Sohn
    January 16, 2014

    Thanks Caleb for being transparent here. Yes, all of us have our failures and insecurities. The amazing thing is when we have humility, God transforms these into failures into successes. The word that will signify 2014 is “spiritual victory.” God has prophetically told me to remove some spiritual strongholds in order for Him to use me as His mighty instrument. Let’s continue to pray for each other brother.

    • Caleb
      January 16, 2014

      Paul thanks so much for your prayers! I think that is one of the most effective things you can do to remove those spiritual strongholds. I have prayed for you and will pray for you again today! Blessings!

  • Dan Black
    January 16, 2014

    Humility is a great word! God’s grace allows us to move through our failures and mistakes. The key is to humility respond to His voice and calling. Great post!

    • Caleb
      January 16, 2014

      Dan, I know you’ve written some good things on humility and pride. I’m going to reread of few of those posts and hopefully write some of my own posts on that topic too.

      • Dan Black
        January 16, 2014

        I’m looking forward to those posts:) It’s a great topic.

  • Bill (cycleguy)
    January 16, 2014

    Transparency is tough but essential. I could definitely list my failures. One thing I am happy about is the church hired a full-time youth pastor and he has allowed me to mentor him and take him under my wing. We have a great relationship. For that I am extremely grateful. I do not have a word at this point. I have never really focused on that.

    • Caleb
      January 16, 2014

      Bill, it seems to me that some of the best times in ministry are times that I’ve spent with younger men, encouraging them, discipling them and just working together with them. Blessings to you and your church in 2014!

  • Mary Hall-Rayford
    January 16, 2014

    Amen. I love the “review” of a year, rather than thinking about “resolutions” for a year. My reflections of a past year have been tremendous in helping me to see “me.”

    • Caleb
      January 16, 2014

      Thanks so much Mary! God really can teach us a lot if we are willing to honestly look at how he has led us in the past.

  • Joel Ball
    January 16, 2014

    Thanks for a refreshing read and for sharing oneword365.

    • Caleb
      January 16, 2014

      My pleasure Joel! Do you have a word for 2014?

      • Joel Ball
        January 17, 2014

        Adventure.

        My life lacks a lot of this. It could have easily been “faith” or “trust”, but these two have proven too boring and safe for me lately.

  • DS
    January 16, 2014

    It still remains true that God uses flawed people for his glory. I am grateful that God still does amazing things in spite of our best intentions. When we acknowledge that we are all “normal”, and we’re transparent we allow others to see how God works in our lives. Thanks for sharing Caleb, and for sharing the work you’ve been a part of for his glory.

    • Caleb
      January 16, 2014

      The truth is that until we acknowledge our failures and God’s faithfulness in us it’s unlikely that God is going to use us greatly for his glory.

  • Thomas Mason
    January 16, 2014

    Wow, I love your transparency here, Caleb. I can identity with some of your failures. I’m the kind of person who can look at all the bad stuff over the course of 2013 and magnify it so much that whatever good stuff occurred is virtually not seen or remembered.

    I like your “one word”. I’m looking forward to hearing what that word teaches you this year. My “one word” is ‘encourage’. My goal is to try to encourage the people that God has placed in my life. I’m also looking for the encouragement that only God can give me.

    • Caleb
      January 16, 2014

      Thomas, sometimes it could be a temptation to magnify the negative and I hope I haven’t done that too much in this post, but I think that true humility must also be honest about our failures and in the end magnify God because he is able to bring glory through it all.

  • Kari Scare
    January 16, 2014

    What a fantastic & inspiring list of accomplishments, Caleb! Honestly, I have not though much about my failures this past year and what God has done through them. I think I need to, but I really don’t want to. Yet, recently, I have discovered some things about myself that are forcing me to confront my failures and weaknesses. This only confirms the journey I need to take.

    • Caleb
      January 16, 2014

      It’s is a little painful and to be honest it’s not something that we should just continually dwell on but it needs to be done and then we can look forward with hope knowing that God is at work.

  • TCAvey
    January 16, 2014

    It’s so encouraging to know that God uses us despite us.
    Thank you for your transparency. I think Christians need to know that we all sin and mess up. None of us are perfect, we all needs God’s grace just as much today as we did the say we accepted Christ as our Savior.

    2014 I am still learning last years word- DEPENDENCE, however, I feel God prompting me to add REJOICE, to that. I need to learn to rejoice even if I don’t feel like, even when I’m broken and waiting for deliverance, even when depending on God means I don’t get my way.

    • Caleb
      January 16, 2014

      TC, I think the is a deeper kind of joy that can allow us to rejoice even in suffering. That is the kind of joy that we need and can only be found in Christ. Thanks for your encouragement!

      • TCAvey
        January 16, 2014

        And thank you for yours.

  • Chris Peek
    January 16, 2014

    Caleb, thanks for sharing your heart and being transparent. In spite of all you mentioned in the first half of this blog, God has utilized your gifts and strengths for his kingdom.

    My word for 2014 is relational. I desire to be more intentional in building and developing my relationships. I spent so much time working last year that I want to focus on spending more quality time with my wife, soon-to-be born son, and friends.

    • Caleb
      January 16, 2014

      Yes, you’re going to have to focus a little more now on your family with the little one coming. I’m excited for you! It will be great to see what the Lord has in store for you this year.

  • Ngina Otiende
    January 17, 2014

    Wow it’s been a great year Caleb. I love how God does great things though us inspite of ourselves.Thank God for His great love and grace!

    My word(s) for 2014 is ‘do less in order to do more” I am focusing on fewer things so that i can be effective.

    • Caleb
      January 17, 2014

      Wait Ngina, isn’t that more than one word? 😉 Actually Christina and I were considering choosing the word “slow” for 2014 but we eventually threw it out because is seemed so impossible with our schedule and life.

  • floyd
    January 17, 2014

    That word and more importantly that trait or characteristic is essential for us to be at peace with our Father… not to mention that our calling comes a whole lot easier. I fight and strive in prayer and action to let humility be a part of who I am, but as we know this flesh is weak, but we keep up the spiritual battle and our Father is honored in the process. Thanks for the raw post, you’re not alone!

    • Caleb
      January 17, 2014

      Thanks for the encouragement Floyd! I know that I’m not alone, it’s a struggle that every Christian must face if he’s honest with himself.

      • Lee Lanier
        January 22, 2014

        Caleb, hope all is well, I have noticed you are reading the book Strange Fire by John McArthur, can you help me with understanding the controversy with the book & his Ministry, respect your opinions, GOD BLESS !!!

        • Caleb
          January 22, 2014

          Lee, I’ll be posting a book review next week so stay tuned!

          • Lee Lanier
            January 22, 2014

            Thank you !!!

  • Jacqueline Guy
    January 17, 2014

    We certainly serve a loving and gracious God! This was a great first
    read on your blog for us. My husband and I are part of Mike Kim’s
    Marketing for Missionaries class. We appreciate the interview
    you did for the class, and we’re putting your ideas to work. The added
    blessing was to discover that you live and work in Ukraine. We are missionaries who love Ukraine and spend as much time there as we can.

    • Caleb
      January 17, 2014

      O wow, that’s so awesome! I’m glad you found the interview beneficial. So this was my year end review but I thought it would be boring to just list stuff we had done and that’s why I decided to go more in depth with some of the things that God was teaching us in a personal way.

      We are in the US until Aug. After that we should be in Ukraine. Let us know if you are ever near Odessa!

  • Barb Raveling
    January 23, 2014

    What an interesting question – how did God use my failures for good? One way I can think is that he uses my failures to help me write new sets of questions and Bible verses to help myself and others break free from negative emotions and habit. More often, though, He just teaches me lessons through my failures. One of the lessons is not to beat myself up, which is what I’m prone to do!

    • Caleb
      January 23, 2014

      Barb, I think a lot of people have learned from your experiences, I know I have just from reading your blog!

  • Barb Raveling
    January 23, 2014

    Oops, forgot to say, I don’t have a word, but I am continuing to focus on the goal of going to God first whenever I’m in an emotional trauma about writing – whether it’s worry, frustration, discouragement, dreading it, etc – the list goes on and on. 🙂 A carryover goal from the year before. I’ve made progress – good progress – but not living in victory yet.

    • Caleb
      January 24, 2014

      “Going to God first” is certainly something that I could work on too Barb. Thanks for sharing.

  • Loren Pinilis
    January 24, 2014

    God promises in Romans 8:28 to use all things for our good – so you can take it to the bank that he’ll use our failures for good. Through my sins in 2013, he’s shown me the value of being humble, depending on him, and not neglecting “the basics.”

    • Caleb
      January 24, 2014

      Thanks for that great reminder Loren! I like the idea of getting back to the basics. I’ve been toying with the idea of creating a couple of video blog posts on some real basic stuff like, “what is the gospel?” or “Why I believe in Jesus”.