Recently I was given a very valuable test…an examination of my heart. Y’all do know that your heart can deceive you right (Jeremiah 17:9)?
I preach and teach the gospel of Jesus Christ (no surprise). If you know me, you know that I have given my life to the furtherance of THIS gospel. Since ministering is what I was created to do, I want to excel in ministry and be the best I can be… and not just on the exterior! I have no interest in a polished public life and a dull private life with Him. That just isn’t real to me. Moving on….
I mean… who doesn’t want to be excellent and effective at what they have committed their life to right? Who doesn’t want to be successful? And right here is where we get all tripped up if we aren’t careful. We forget to define success by biblical standards. To be successful in God is to maximize your potential and be EFFECTIVE in what He has called you to do. Think about it. If He called you to evangelize, but you’re too afraid to appear “fanatic”, so you choose to pastor, how effective are you being in comparison to how effective you CAN be through obedience? And if He has called you to pastor, tend to and shepherd souls, but you like the freedom of evangelizing and choose that form of ministry for yourself, how much are you REALLY pleasing Him in your disobedience? You see, pastoring and evangelizing are great, but not as good as doing what He has specifically called you to do. If he called you to brighten people’s day by being a florist, activist, doctor, waitress, or teacher, than nothing you choose to do will be a better fit for you. Haven’t you heard about people who perform (what to others may just be) a job and exclaim it is their calling? What if Nehemiah had aspired to be a warrior or royal guard instead of a cup bearer? His position is what gave Him ACCESS to the king and the resources He needed to change a nation! As a creation, our purpose is to obey the Creator. Every good thing isn’t a “God” thing. The God thing is His will for your life, His timing included. Ouch.
Now that we have established the fact that even in ministry and “good things”, our selfish hearts can sway us towards the comforts of our prideful agendas, we can focus on the fact that we are not exempt from temptations that disguise themselves as harmless opportunities… even Godly opportunities.
There are three sinful and sneaky dispositions mentioned in the bible that I want to interject here, the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life (1 John 2:16). I call them sneaky, because these demonic agendas can attach themselves to the most well intentioned minister of the gospel. Let me tell you, we must CONSTANTLY keep our hearts under the magnifying glass of God’s word!!! We must constantly ask ourselves and God WHY we want what we want. Motive is everything.
I’m getting to my test…..
An opportunity was presented to me five times in about six weeks. I’ll share some of the questions posed to me: Don’t you want to be on television? Don’t you want your name to be in lights? Don’t you want to preach to nations? Don’t you know you can spend so much time on a plane going to and fro to teach the gospel that you’re rarely at home? Don’t you know that you can become very wealthy doing this?
I’ll be very CLEAR here, there is nothing wrong with any of the aforementioned in and of themselves, however, something becomes very wrong when they are opportunities that God didn’t create and were presented to me to lure me through any temptations to be successful, popular and comfortable. The prideful aspect of our personalities like attention. The prideful aspects of our personalities cause us to crave success for the wrong reasons. I had to stop and ask myself a question… Isn’t my sole motivation to please God; be effective and do good works ON HIS TERMS (Matthew 6:33)? This being the case, I had to acknowledge Him, even in what seemed like a good opportunity and allow Him to “direct my path” (Prov. 3:5-7). We can be so excited about being popular, rich and admired, that we will walk through a door without ever asking God if it is a door He presented and whether or not the next dimension of His will is awaiting us on the other side. It can get really tricky if the opportunities presented are in line with opportunities He promised. Have you ever heard of the term “counterfeit”? Okay, so you know there are things that don’t carry the integrity of authenticity, but look like the real thing. Moving along…
When I took this opportunity before God in prayer, I expressed that if He didn’t send it, I wanted no parts of it. I was resolved that I would rather stay right where I am until HIS appointed time, than step outside of His will to have access to all that my flesh would desire.
The truth is that there are some who will never call me to preach. I’m not being negative, let me explain. The insight God has given me empowers me to preach the uncomfortable charges expressed in the gospel with clarity which leads to a CHOICE to be delivered. In case you didn’t know, choosing God over what is comfortable is… well…. UNCOMFORTABLE. Many people aren’t interested in THAT level of discomfort. He gives me messages that challenge and expose FALSE CORE BELIEFS & FOUNDATIONS that have been the building blocks of relationships, marriages, paradigms and ministries for most of people’s lives. I TOTALLY understand why many don’t want to hear such an uncomfortable charge- even if it is purposed to make them free. Any place God permits me to go is a place where He has already prepared the hearts of the people for the root work He desires to do through the ministry He’s entrusted to me. If I go anywhere before He sends me, anywhere they aren’t ready for the message He sends, how effective could I be? Remember that operating outside of His timing, places you outside of His will. I must always be cognizant of the fact that this ministry inside of me is HIS vehicle and not my own. I will wait on the Lord in all things concerning my life. There are lives hanging in the balance and people depending on me to be properly postured and positioned. My life is not my own.
I have written this to encourage the others who are waiting on God. You may be obeying and watching others moving faster and more often. They may be securing engagements, marriages, properties, and opportunities while you are YET waiting. I tell you today to WAIT ON!!! Wait for the provision that comes from HIS hand. You don’t want the opportunities that just look good…you need them to be FROM God. In obedience, you cover much more ground with less effort and hiccups. We spend too much time finding fault in leaders that fall and ministries that fail, when we should be asking God to expose where the culprit of their demise is lodged in our own hearts. Many times esteemed positions and ministries were being fueled by impatience, pride and the lusts I mentioned earlier. Is anyone really above those things? If your private lives and disciplines (or lack thereof) aren’t consistent with your public persona, don’t make excuses, just ask for His help to dispel the lie you are living. Holiness should be preached AND practiced. When someone is off track, there are always indicators, circumstances and relationships present that reveal the condition of the person’s heart. God calls people to BE what He has called them to do and there is a process in becoming.
Some people were advanced to high school with all of the perks and privileges of being an upper class man, while they were only reading at third grade level. It is truly embarrassing to fail a high school exit exam when the scores are published to the public. This is the same type of humiliation leaders experience when they have been promoted by men, but skipped their private tutorials with God. The virtue isn’t in the popularity, but the authenticity.
Wait on the Lord, let Him go before you and clear the paths you will walk. You will stumble a lot less!
I’m excited about the things God will do, and the doors He will open. And until then…I’ll wait.
Do not love or cherish the world or the things that are in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world- the lust of the flesh [craving for sensual gratification] and the lust of the eyes [greedy longings of the mind] and the pride of life [assurance in one’s own resources or in the stability of earthly things]- these do not come from the father but are from the world [itself]. And the world passes away and disappears, and with it the forbidden cravings (the passionate desires, the lust) of it; but he who does the will of God and carries out His purposes in his life abides (remains) forever.
1 John 2:15-17