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The Way of the Donkey

“…at the end of the day, our art is simply a donkey. Just like the one that carried Jesus– just a donkey, who’s purpose was to carry the Savior. The same goes for all our creative expression; our music; our photography; our design; our talents and gifts etc.” -Joel Houston, musician (Hillsong United)

The gospel is not only a message of salvation but transformation of every area of our lives. We get the opportunity to reveal and express His authority no matter what situation we find ourselves in or activity we engage in.

Joel Houston’s quote, which I read years ago, sums this up nicely. He specifically mentions art, but the same could be said for any vocation, business, or use of our talents or passion. It’s just a vehicle. The focus is Jesus.

When Jesus entered Jerusalem, people seemed to be beside themselves. I sort of picture something like the old footage of girls screaming for the Beatles. It was adoration, praise, tremendous focus on Jesus. The donkey got no credit! What’s up with that! He was not praised for his strong back or the competent way he clopped down the streets. Nothing.

No, the donkey did what he was made to do. He went where he was led. He stopped when he was supposed to stop. In the same way, you have abilities and talents that did not originate with you, and if you cannot be satisfied with Jesus being the center, then you are headed for problems.

Romans 12 is at once beautiful and a huge slap in the face.

Live as a sacrifice, don’t think of yourself as more than you are, use the gift you have according to grace… Essentially Paul writes that whatever you have, use it and glorify God. Serve, give, encourage, lead–do it all as you live out the gospel. There it is again! It’s all about Jesus.

A donkey can’t boast about his beauty. A donkey can’t boast about his intellect (or anything). He does what he’s created to do. Your talents are meant to showcase Jesus, not gain admiration for yourself.

Just because you tithe more than anyone else in the church does not mean you need to make the rules for the youth ministry. Just because you have the best voice (and everyone knows it) does not mean you need to throw a tantrum if you don’t get every solo. Just because you’ve studied the Bible and read lots of books doesn’t mean you should give a play-by-play critique on the pastor’s sermon every Sunday.

Here is our encouragement: be useful and fully be where you are.

See the needs surrounding you and allow Jesus to shine through the particular donkey He gave you, but never lose sight of the fact–it’s still a donkey.

That works in how we see others and their gifts as well. It’s easy to fawn all over someone who is talented (especially in a way we value or want to be used), but if it’s not leading us to look at Jesus, something’s off with either us or them. Honor Jesus when they do it masterfully and give grace if they stumble at times.

You can embrace limitations while accepting both His sufficiency and the abilities of those God has placed around you remembering what we do is merely a vehicle to show Jesus so that He is honored and glorified.

The owner of the donkey was told, “the Lord has need of it.” Let Him use what you have, and He’ll transform it into something glorious.

What do you think? Do we sometimes think we deserve more credit than we do or give more credit to gifted people?


  1. Thank you, Jason, for reminding us that we are only donkeys, but ones who can accomplish great things for the kingdom when our entire focus is on the Lord.

    • Actually, while I have believed as much in the past, I don’t really think we should see ourselves as donkeys as much as what we do. Especially for us guys, we can get very territorial or prideful based on what we do, but it’s all just supposed to be a vehicle for Jesus to ride in and be worshiped. Thanks Martha!

  2. Great point. We were all born with a gift that was ultimately to be used to glorify the Designer. But the fallen world that succumbed to the desire to be “as gods” tends to turn the focus on ourselves.

    That’s gonna stick; “donkey”. I occasionally pray a similar prayer, “Father, help me to do well the job you sent me to do”.

    • Amen. That’s a very good prayer. I’m praying that with you today. Appreciate you, Floyd!

  3. Ok, I need to practice being a donkey…

    • I think as long as we allow Him to use our gifts as a donkey, we’ll be doing pretty great! Thanks Betty. 🙂

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