Pastor, if you’re going to serve a lifetime in ministry and not just become a statistic, another pastor who quits after a few years, you’re going to have to see your future before you live it.
The biggest problem with the moment we’re in now – it’s like no other time in history. It is a vision blocker. It’s a challenging time to develop the right vision. But here’s what I know: If you can do the work of the Spirit within, you will get your vision, or vision again, at any age and stage because vision doesn’t respect age. You can be Abraham and release the greatest vision ever when you’re an old man, or you can be Timothy, a young man, and start releasing it.
The entire chapter of Ecclesiastes 9 is about preparing and planning and being awesome. But then there’s this reality, that if we’re not careful, we take ownership of a vision that we only have the right to be at the very best a co-owner of or junior partner with God. It’s very easy because we’re responsible people by nature as pastors. We’ll take all ownership if we’re not careful. But God just wants us to do our part in His plan.
The church right now is dealing with a secular world. If we’re not careful, we’ll think we’ll just elect a champion to kill Goliath. No, pastor! This is our greatest moment ever. What’s the message for the person who’s in the LGBTQ community? What’s the message? The message is to prophesy over them, “God’s calling you. God is moving in your heart. You don’t know who you are. Let me introduce you to the One who will show you who you are.” That’s the problem. The problem is not some political thing in schools. Should your children go to a Christian school right now? Probably! Because that’s everyday parental stuff. I’m not saying that’s not important. I’m simply saying we have to answer the moment, the prophetic moment of a second Great Enlightenment period like that which preceded the Great Awakening.
I have made this one resolution: I have resolved to do something. I’ve resolved to do something.
As leaders, we have so much process. We can give you so many tricks of the trade, so many do’s and don’ts, but you’ve got to know when to use them and when to lose them.
Time and chance find its way to every man’s door. If you’ve been in ministry for any amount of time, you’ve experienced, as I have, moments you thought it might be over. And then out of nowhere somebody gives a million dollars. You’re like, “Oh, I guess I’m back in!” or whatever it is.
I have resolved in my heart to not get too far away from God’s door so when time and chance come my way, I will be ready for it. I think leaders often leave their posts right before the door opens for their miracle. I don’t want to be guilty of that. I don’t want to leave except by revelation.
I remember talking to my wife, Lisa, years ago when I was at my peak age, peak strength, and having to turn down opportunities. I remember saying to my wife, “I think I’ve been off message for six months. People think I’m good. But I don’t think anything I’m saying has God’s touch on it. I’m good enough to go through the motions and teach and talk and act a certain way. I got all the moves.” She said, “Let me pray over you, but I think God just gave me a word. What’s the last message you had where you felt God’s touch on it?” I told her, “I can tell you exactly when and what it was about.” She said, “God says, ‘Go back. Go back to that. You can start from there and do something again.’”
See, I had moved in my own strength and ability because the topic I was teaching was hot. I was a trendy leader back then. But it wasn’t God. It wasn’t God. I did it all in the flesh, and it was still okay. I sold product, but I knew it wasn’t God. The problem is if you do that for too long, you’ll end up in some hidden sin, you’ll end up broke, you’ll end up in a bad place because you’re in your own strength.
We must trade what we want to do, what we think we should do, for what God wants us to do. We must want the presence of God to be our constant. It’s our divine advantage. But it requires us to trade in our feelings, false ideas, our fleshly pursuits for His presence, which will reinvigorate us and build us from the inside out. It’s a no-brainer trade, yet many pastors find it hard to commit to do!
You know, as a leadership coach I used to feel discredited in my heart because I’m an achiever, but I pastored a church in the hood of hoods in the Northwest. I was surrounded by poor people, and nobody knew who I was. I was literally pulling needles out of people’s arms in my church neighborhood but dealing with kings of the business world throughout the week. But the opportunity I had to pastor in that community was actually the thing that gave me greater credit with the “kings” I coached. When they learned where I was pastoring, they’d say, “Oh! You’re doing the real thing!” They saw that a man who would cared enough to take a needle out of a person’s arm made a coach you could trust.
My situation didn’t work against me. It worked out for my good. That’s how you could tell God planned it instead of me. I would have given myself a different setting. Instead, I chose to obey God and keep my value wherever He placed me. I know this can be tough. It can be hard to keep your personal value up depending on where you’re serving. But if you don’t keep it up, it will affect who you’re able to influence.I hope this encourages you to assess where you are and what you’re teaching. Is it God-inspired or you-inspired? What changes do you need to make to be in line with God and to seize the opportunities He releases to you? What resolutions do you need to make this year? Pastor, do it God’s way. That’s where the blessing and the achievement lie.