It isn’t God’s job to follow me.
I have been too quick to expect God to keep my plans, wander along my paths, and deliver on my priorities. You would think I knew what was best. I have been laying the track and expecting God to chug along on my schedule. I noticed this most in how I pray. “God, do this. Bring that. Answer here. Help now. Stay on track” What a train wreck!
If I am really following God than I will listen more and speak less. I will move into the life God has laid for me and not drag God into my expectation. As David was leaving Jerusalem, exiled by his ambitious Son, Zadok the priest brought the ark to David. David told him to return the ark to its place. It wasn’t God’s place to move to David.
Leader, be careful when heading off to the unknown that you don’t take your plans and stick God’s name on it and call it “vision”. Listen more than you speak. Wait more than you walk. Learn before you lead.
“…behold, here I am, let (God) do to me what seems good to him.” – King David (II Sam. 15:24-26)
Are you closing the loop?
Example: Children’s Check-In
If your church has a check-in program for children, a system to maintain security and monitor attendance, make sure poor equipping and human error does not short circuit your attempted programming. You could be operating under the assumption that your children are secure. An open loop, neither monitored nor maintained leaves you operating under a false reality, a lie. In the case of children check-in, parents leave your children with your volunteers under the false reality that their kids are safe. A lack of inspecting what you are expecting means you are actually lying to parents. You gotta close the loop.
- Test it. It is the only way to be sure you are receiving the results you are expecting from your various systems and programs.
- Test it again. You could have just gotten lucky the first time.
- Test it often. It is a necessity of administration, checking your reality- closing the loop.
- Ask your guests. They see things and feel things that you have become immune to. Ask them about your systems.
Let Pharaoh proceed to appoint overseers over the land…And let them gather all the food…. – Gen 41:34-35
It is an old and true cliche, when God closes a door He opens another. Wise people know you can stand in God’s hallway a long time. Moses spent 40 years in hallway, waiting. Joseph spent approximately 5 years in jail before becoming Pharaoh’s executive. 5 years waiting. The Bible is filled with hallway-sitters, people in between promises given and promises fulfilled. How do you know if you are waiting for God to open a door? Well…
1. You are waiting for a specific door to open. You can name it. It is a noun, person or place or thing!
2. Behind your specific door is something God has already revealed to you. If He hadn’t shared glimmers of things to come you wouldn’t know to walk through it when it opens. Revealing the door might be a surprise, but what lies behind it isn’t.
3. Behind your specific door is something consistent with God’s will. God doesn’t provide opportunities that are contrary to his plan. That is a “Satan” thing; he opens doors left and right! (go back and think about that point some more)
4. Behind your specific door is something specifically for you, designed with your gifts and talents and capacities in mind.
5. Behind your specific door is something desirable. You want it and that is why you are willing to wait for it.
If you aren’t waiting for a specific door you are most likely wandering the hallways trying to find any door that will nudge. WARNING! Not every door is for you and not every door opens up blessings. Do not leave the hall-wandering and enter into settling. How might you be settling? Well, it isn’t the things above. It is less than. If you are about to settle, step back and step away. Get back in the hall! Don’t settle- wait.
You may wander for a season, trying to get a lead on God’s will for you. That is part of the process. Through time in prayer God will begin to nudge you in a certain direction. You will find yourself outside a door, one door, with your next God-planned journey on the other side. When you find your door…wait for it!
…without ceasing I mention you always in my prayers, asking that somehow by God’s will I may now at last succeed in coming to you. – The Apostle Paul (Romans 1:10)
One word breaks chains. One word frees slaves. One word confounds demons. One word shatters walls. One word upsets systems. One word unseats cities. One word unsettles hearts. One word helps the hounded, heals the hopeless, yet hurts the hardened. One word makes the fierce flee, the unheard-of happen, and the unthinkable come to pass. One word.
We don’t need many words, lengthy words, or complicated words. Not witty, pithy, catchy words. We don’t need to talk long nor say much. One word, the right word, the Spirit-filled faith-founded God-grounded word is enough to turn everything upside down. With one word, the Son of God freed two demoniacs, opened closed road ways, rocked the economic system of a region, gathered an entire city, and upended a spiritual stronghold.
In short, it takes a word, but it may only take one.
What will you say today, son/daughter of God?
And Jesus said to them, “Go.” So they came out and went… Matthew 8:28-34
Did you know…
- Olive trees live between 300-600 years. The oldest is certified to be over 2,000 years old.
- Olive trees only flower after four years and only harvested after 15 years.
- Olive trees must be pruned regularly to encourage fruitfulness.
- Because cultivating the fruit can take so long, olive branches are pictures and offerings of peace and goodwill.
- Olive trees are evergreens.
- Olive oil is produced by pressing the fruit and is noted for its medical, nutritional, cosmetic, and fragrant benefits.
- Olive trees are grafted to combine the established root system of older trees with the fruitfulness of younger trees.
Can you make the connections?
But I am like a green olive tree in the house of God. I trust in the steadfast love of God forever and ever. – Psalm 52:8
Honeycrisp apples are harvested between September 15th and October 10th. Further, optimal harvesting only happens in the 4th week of September. You only get quality apples during a 3-4 week period out of a 52 week year. Does that make the apple tree unfruitful? Does that make the tree inefficient? Does that make the tree “disobedient” and “sinful”? Is it not putting forth enough effort?! Of course not. A healthy tree is constantly laboring, beneath the surface, roots drawing and pulling nutrients from the surrounding soil. And, when the season comes, the fruit is revealed.
Teach your church to focus more on their roots and not to stare at each others barren branches that behold the fruit. Everything has a season and a time. Encourage them to stay at it; at prayer, at celebration, at fasting, at meditating day and night on God’s word. The fruit comes when the time comes.
The righteous are like trees…which yield their fruit in its season. Psalm 1:2
Beware incongruence, spending great wealth on that of little worth. There is a Dutch proverb, “What is heaviest must weigh heaviest.” So, what is heaviest? What should weigh most? What should take the most energy and time and money? As you have poured over the Bible and thought about the work of the church, where should she spend most of her time? What gives her the greatest return on investment? According to Jesus the list is very short and demands very simple.
Audit your faith, how you spend your wealth of time and do the same for your church. Compare that list with what you know God has said is worth the most. See, there it is, in-congruence. And, you aren’t surprised to find it I bet. So, to re-align…
- Decide you are only going to work for Jesus.
- Say “No” more and “yes” less.
- Let go of your obsession with feeling needed.
- Delegate lesser tasks even when you can do them better.
- Repeat 1-4 often!
“You are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Choose what is better, and it will not be taken away from you.” – Jesus speaking to Martha, you, and me. (Luke 10:38-42)
Protect your church from over commitment. Respect her rhythm. Give her rest. She is a Body just like you have a body. She has ups and downs like you. And, as a church leader, a disregard for the pace of ministry will most likely be reflected in your church being driven into the ground. The Body (church) does what the mind (leaders/pastors) instructs.
God wants you to balance this tension; pace vs. place. Or, what the church is doing vs. who the church is becoming. Overemphasizing mission at the expense of spiritual formation will result in over committed members and exhaustion. Remember, the whole purpose of our participation in Christ’s work is to produce Christ’s image in us. We are as much the mission as the world is.
I promised you to one husband, to Christ, so that I might present you as a pure virgin to him. – II Corinthians 11:2
Some books are hard because the words are big and sentences complex and chapters long. Other books are hard because they are so simple to read but incredibly confrontational to your heart and soul. A colleague and friend encouraged me to read A Tale of Three Kings a year ago. Its simplicity and truth untied deep knots in my heart and melted into my mind. It has been a book that God has brought back to me again and again. A quick read but one you want to take slow. Read it for transformation and not information! Warning- God will use this book to break you, to bring you brokenness, and then He will heal you.
Saul had a spear in his hand and he hurled it, saying to himself, “I’ll pin David to the wall.” But David eluded him twice. – I Samuel 18:10-11
Hear an audio book review at youtube.com