Glorify/Life Teen Community

Chainsaws and Humility

When I applied to be a Summer Missionary at Covecrest, I knew I’d be working with high school students. It was the chainsaw that I didn’t expect.

During work week, some of the missionaries created the obstacle course to be used all summer. One day, our group leader asked, “Who hasn’t used a chainsaw before?” Some of us raised our hands, ready to go to a different project. Instead, he said, “All of you, stay here, we’re gonna cut down these trees.” Despite my awe-struck face, he started briefing us on safety measures and proper technique for using the chainsaw.

When my turn finally came, I’ll admit, I was quite scared, but not for safety reasons. I felt prepared for handling it safely, but I felt so inadequate when it came to doing the job well. I took hold of the clunky tool. It was loud and overwhelming and heavy, and even though they were encouraging me, the presence of the other missionaries made me nervous. As I approached the tree to cut it down, I tried so hard to remember all the little tips they’d told me. Hold it steady, move it back and forth, cut this way, keep still. I didn’t want to look like I was incompetent. I wanted to do well on the first try.

Unfortunately, I was not a chainsaw master right off the bat. I started to get embarrassed as long seconds passed by with little progress. I became even more aware of the people staring at me, so aware of this little failure that everyone was watching. It was then that another leader came up beside me, gave me some pointers, and let me have at it. It wasn’t perfect, but the job got done.

In prayer at the end of the day, I reflected on how I’d been embarrassed at my inability to be flawless on the first try. The Lord gently reminded me about pride: the way my pride causes this unreasonable desire for perfection in every task. I am quick to judge myself based on how well I do something, even something so simple as using a power tool.

I remembered St. Paul saying to the Corinthians, “I will rather boast most gladly of my weaknesses, in order that the power of Christ may dwell with me” (2 Corinthians 12:9). Jesus pointed out that it was my weakness that gave someone else the chance to help me. This verse helped me realize that I often try to do what only Jesus can.

It is a symptom of my pride to take matters into my own hands. No, I can solve this friendship problem on my own. Hey Jesus, I’m going to convert this person, don’t worry about it. Every time, I get embarrassed when I struggle, because I know that I have more weaknesses than I’m willing to admit. St. Paul says he boasts gladly of these weaknesses; they allow Christ to swoop in and do His job! Jesus wants to do that for you and me. He wants to come up beside us when we realize that we aren’t the masters we pretend to be. He’s okay with that! I’m learning to boast gladly, because it is a great joy to have a Savior who knows I’m not perfect. He is perfect, and that is enough.

About the Author

Courtney Kiolbassa

My perfect day would include morning tea, SNL, the Hamilton soundtrack, praise and worship, and at least one avocado. I’m convinced that podcasts are the future and that my friends will change the world. Being a disciple of Jesus is the greatest journey; helping Jesus make disciples is the greatest mission. You can find me on Instagram (@courtkiol) and performing spoken word poems on YouTube.