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You're Able, But are You Willing?

  • Cliff Young Contributing Writer
  • Published Apr 29, 2014
You're Able, But are You Willing?

Since my occupation requires me to fly regularly, I have become pretty well versed in airline travel, and oftentimes when selecting my seat I’ll choose the exit row to afford me a little more room to work. As a requirement to sit in those rows, the flight attendant must ask each passenger if they are “willing and able” to assist in the event of an emergency and must receive a verbal answer of “Yes.”

Only once in all of my millions of miles of flying did I ever hear a person answer “I’m not sure.” The young lady was quickly escorted to another seat.

Sometimes I feel I have to consciously ask myself a similar line of questions as I go through each day, and sadly my answer has been the same as that young lady’s.

(I am able, but), “Am I willing” to take on the day with an attitude fitting of whom I serve?

(I am able, but), “Am I willing” to put my own interests and pride aside at times in order for God's better good?

(I am able, but), “Am I willing” to not always have to be right?

(I am able, but), “Am I willing” to accept his will over my life rather than pressing for my own?

Through the dramatization of the Passion play at Easter this year, I was reminded of the role, sacrifice and humbleness displayed by John the Baptist.

The people were waiting expectantly and were all wondering in their hearts if John might possibly be the Christ. John answered them all, "I baptize you with water, but one more powerful than I will come, the thongs of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire (Luke 3:15-16).

John was a man who had many followers. Hundreds came to him to be baptized with the thought he may possibly be the Savior they’ve been hearing about and waiting for. Instead of using it as an opportunity to focus on him, the numbers he had baptized and the amount of followers he was building, John deflected the attention to the One all glory should go, Jesus.

As we saw in the Garden of Eden, we (as humans) can easily be enticed by reason, our eyes and a rational motive to justify any of our actions.

When the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was desirable to make one wise, she took from its fruit and ate (Genesis 3:6).

I recently had an engagement outside of Washington, DC. As we flew into Reagan National Airport along the Potomac River, those near a window were able to see the crowds gathered for the annual Cherry Blossom Festival below.

When we landed, my employer commented to the person sitting beside her, “This is one of the most beautiful cities in the world where nothing gets done.”

Sadly to say, there is a lot of truth and some lessons to be learned in this clever quip.

I have often wondered how a group of our nation's (supposed) “leaders” spend countless hours, days and years, along with our tax money accomplishing….next to nothing.

Every once in a while I will pause my channel surfing on C-Span to watch the parade (and charade) of these men and women talking endlessly with absolutely no hope of influencing their peers. Most all of them seem to already have their minds made up based on party lines, what their vote can do for political gain or what’s best for their own approval rating.

What would happen in our country if each day every one of us asked these questions of ourselves, resoundingly answered “Yes,” and responded with actions to support it?

Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 18:4).

Humble yourself?

That seems to be such a divergent statement to how the world conveys, demonstrates, and trains us to live. Turn on any sporting event and you’ll see some of the most gifted athletes in the world thumping their chest, bringing attention to their accomplishment and taunting their opponent.

A number of years ago, one such athlete exclaimed, “I am the greatest.” He dominated his sport like none other had before him. He was part show-man, part entertainer, but all a finely tuned athlete. He would virtually mock his opponents in the ring and enjoyed making them look foolish.

He was Muhammad Ali and once said, “Humble people, I’ve found, don’t get very far.”

Today, this man who was once bigger than life, and who many did consider “The Greatest,” is a shell of who he once was, living a quiet existence having been debilitated by Parkinson’s disease.

A couple of years ago, I started seeing “HE>i” stickers and apparel around the area where I lived. I later found this was the trademark of a local company, “He is Greater than I,” based upon the words of John the Baptist in John 3:30:

He must become greater and greater, and I must become less and less. 

I have since added this logo around my life to remind myself to “live a life worth of the calling I have been given” (Ephesians 4:1) – to love God and to lead others to Christ, not to be the focus of attention.

John is the man to whom the Scriptures refer when they say, 'Look, I am sending my messenger before you, and he will prepare your way before you.'  "I assure you, of all who have ever lived; none is greater than John the Baptist. Yet even the most insignificant person in the Kingdom of Heaven is greater than he is!  And from the time John the Baptist began preaching and baptizing until now, the Kingdom of Heaven has been forcefully advancing, and violent people attack it (Matthew 11:10-12).

We are ALL able, but are you willing to take a role like John the Baptist or would you like to be re-seated?

Cliff Young is a contributing writer to Sandlot Stories (ARose Books), as well as the monthly column, "He Said-She Said," in's Singles Channel. An architect and former youth worker, he now works with Christian musicians and consults for a number of Christian ministries. Got feedback? Send your comments and questions to Find him on facebook and twitter.

Publication date: April 29, 2014