The Divine Appointment: Pioneering in Service and Leadership
Have you ever come out of a meeting, a conference call or other encounter feeling like, “wow, that was amazing, everything just clicked?” Maybe it was a service planning meeting or a general business meeting, but everything you spoke of or touched just seemed to be divinely guided and inspired - like the entire group assembled was lock-in-step together with thoughts, ideas and designs. Then, I believe, you were in or at what some might call a divine appointment.
In Divine Direction, my Pastor, Craig Groeschel, writes, “the decisions you make today, will determine the stories you tell tomorrow.” How very true is that? Think back for a minute; the decisions we made in our younger days have effected the stories we tell today. Decisions like, what college to attend, what fraternity or sorority to join or what major to pursue. Maybe the decision to not attend college and start working earlier, or possibly even a bad decision that led to a significant failure might influence your story today. Whatever the story may be, there is a decision somewhere along the history of your life, that has directed the story. Not convinced, here’s one more…the decision of your parents to have sex, led to your birth, thereby, you are now living, breathing, talking and telling stories - get it yet?
Thinking back on my life, I look at some divine appointments and key decisions that have influenced it - either good or bad. I often wonder where I might be without having made many of the decisions I made in my earlier days. Would I be more successful or less had I gone this way or that way? While at times, there is some value at an introspective look at our past, I believe there are some hidden dangers as well. One, if we dwell on our past mistakes, we don’t allow God to carry us out of those failures into His restoration. Continuing to look at a previous failure is anything but healthy and I believe it creates a place for the devil in the very fabric of our spirit that is not only detrimental to our mental state, but possibly our physical as well. There is a reason that we are told in Ephesians 4:27, not to give place to the devil.
Secondly, dwelling on our past successes is just as bad; some might argue even more detrimental. If we become too comfortable, or too prideful in our past success, we begin to lack room for future success. I think there is something to be said about the person who is very successful but you would never hear it spoken from their lips.
I know one key person who has led a church to become the largest in the country. He is a thought leader, a NYT best-selling author, has great kids, a beautiful wife and has seen the church he leads become the most influential church of the modern era. But, what you rarely hear him speak of, is that success, unless it is in the “we” context. We, did this or we did that - never I, never me. What I see, when looking at his life, is a man that is one of the most humble out there. He has every right to be proud of his work and what he has accomplished, but never is he prideful. Never! What this has allowed is continued success after success around his life. Almost anything he sets out to do, he prayerfully seeks God first, allows God to influence and direct then he gets to work. As such, there is always room for more success.
“Show me your friends and I will show you your future.” - Craig Groeschel
When I have been called on for advice or to counsel someone with significant personal struggles or issues of temptation and defeat, I always lead off with these questions: Who are your friends? Who do you choose to spend your time with? What activities do you participate in? What issues are you continually faced with that revolve around the people you hang out with? Drugs, drinking, sexual temptation and sin often times are directly connected and interwoven in the friendships we keep and the people we hang out with. If you have a drinking problem, it’s probably not the wisest decision to hang out at a frat party. If sexual temptation is your struggle, then it’s clearly ill-advised to spend time in a parked car alone with a person you find attractive.
The simple truth in all of this is, if we earnestly seek God, He will be found. He has been waiting there for us to show up for our appointment with Him all along. His mercy and forgiveness is new and He stands ready to meet our every need - all we must do is repent and turn to Him. Never must we clean ourselves off and right the wrongs in our life, He is waiting to do that for us, we just need to give it to Him. Doesn’t matter how dirty your life is right now, or how broken you feel, God is able and just to forgive, relieve our hurts, struggles and pains, and restore us into His righteousness.
“If we are becoming the right who, we will choose to do the right do.” - Craig Groeschel
If we are focused on becoming the right who and allowing God to direct our thoughts and actions, then we can rest assured that we will be about the right do - the right direction. It is not a sign of weakness to seek out help and counsel, it is a sign of wisdom. Over the years, one thing that I have loved about my life is, rarely have I gone where a path might lead. I love the fact that God has allowed me to be a pioneer, to some extent, and with His guidance, I have been able to trench out a path and leave a trail for others to follow. I think that is something we all should do and be about. You might not believe yourself to be of a pioneering mind-set, but let me caution you a bit here. If we, as the Church, as Christians are not here to lead others, then why are we here? I believe the exact reason God allows us to remain on this earth, is to be pioneers for the Kingdom. We are here to lead, not follow! Start looking at yourself in a new light, you are a leader. Sure we all followers of a Divine master, a Savior and King, but we are here to lead.
"Christ served others, even when it wasn’t the popular thing to do - even when it wasn’t gaining Him any favor with the religious leaders of His day, He served unconditionally and without regard to the perceptions of others." - Bryan Ramsey
So, what does a Christian life of leadership look like? Simple, look to Christ and His example. Christ was the greatest leader to ever walk the earth, but he was also the greatest servant to ever walk the earth. Christ served others, even when it wasn’t the popular thing to do - even when it wasn’t gaining Him any favor with the religious leaders of His day, He served unconditionally and without regard to the perceptions of others. You see serving isn’t something we do, it is who we are called to be. The Church is not here for us, we are the Church and the Church is the hope of the world -thereby we, as the Church, exist for the world. We are called to serve! You can shuck the responsibility if you want, but let me tell you with all sincerity and no uncertainty, that if you are not serving, you will NEVER be who you are called to be on this earth. Sure you might make it to heaven, you might even have a joyous and happy life getting there, but you will never walk out in the true life you are called to live.
"...if you are not serving, you will NEVER be who you are called to be on this earth." - Bryan Ramsey
So, what Divine Appointment are you missing in your life. Are you about seeking who God might want you to pour into or are you too focused on yourself, your needs and wants? Who are you called to serve today? Maybe you find yourself convicted by some of this today? Let me reassure you that while past events can’t be re-written or undone, they can be redeemed. Today, you can ask for God to forgive and refocus your thoughts on His ways and plans. Today you can be set free from the bondage you have lived in and restored to a life of meaning and purpose.
“Great things are done by a series of small thing brought together” - Vincent Van Gogh
Small things come together to work into the larger fabric of God’s plan. Today, you can start by taking small steps in the right direction. Today, if you aren’t serving and serving faithfully and regularly in your church, get on the phone, send an email or fill out the connect card at your church and get to work! It’s just that simple, we are not called to simply sit in church and soak it in, we are here to serve. We are called to be servants.
"...we are not called to simply sit in church and soak it in, we are here to serve. We are called to be servants." - Bryan Ramsey
Remember, the decisions we make today, will determine the stories we tell tomorrow. At the end of your life, what do you want the stories you tell to be about? For me, I want the stories that remain to be about the things I did, the people I helped and led, the changes that I helped direct by introducing someone to Christ. My prayer is that your story will be about that too!