About twelve years ago, my wife and I decided to do the unthinkable. At the seeming height of success for me in our church, we felt that it was time to leave Suncoast Worship Center. Now looking back, it seems completely illogical. We had security and jobs we loved. Brenda held a successful position as a midwife, and I was the senior leader over a regional church. Looking at our situation, there would be no logical explanation to leave where we were and what we were doing. In fact, if someone came to me now considering the same thing I did, I would advise him or her against it. Not out of wanting to hinder that person, but because I knew as a pastor, it is unwise to leave a position until you have another definite one to fill.
Yet the Lord had clearly spoken to us. Without knowing what the future held, we resigned our positions. I can still remember the place where God spoke to me and told me to leave. It was about three hundred feet from my driveway. I was praying, and the Lord interrupted me and changed the course of my life.
I imagine that many of you have had similar life-altering encounters with the Lord. I like to call them defining moments, or divine encounters. This is a topic that I am deeply passionate about, and I love how the Lord releases these moments to us. Yet, as I mentioned at the end of my last post, there is a key important piece that comes with the encounter, which is the process. In fact, I would say that the process is just as important as the encounter. I do not know of anyone that has successfully walked out what the Lord has called them to do without submitting to His process.
Valuing the process is key. In the process, we are able to follow the Lord and walk in faith and not foolishness. The process is simply allowing the Lord to shape us into His image by working things out of us and into us. Many of you may be wondering how to assess whether your act of faith is truly in wisdom and the timing of the Lord or not. Here are a few things I have recognized that may help you…
Being in Relationship. When you are considering taking a big risk that will alter your life, it is so valuable to submit your idea to those closest to you. They know you best and can help confirm to you that you are truly sensing the Lord’s direction. I submitted my idea to Brenda and to my closest friends before officially acting on it. I also often counseled people as their pastor to help them recognize the leading of the Lord.
Correct Heart Motivation. Without always realizing it, we sometimes can be seeking to act out of poor motives under the guise of faith. This is not necessarily intentional, as we cannot always perceive our heart motivation. That is why it is important and helpful to submit it to others in relationship. I do believe the Lord directs us to make big life changes, but we need to make sure our change is not only because it sounds exciting or offers the potential for a platform. If it is from an incorrect motive, it will place a strain on you and be difficult to sustain and maintain.
Start Where You Are. There is a beauty in gradual beginnings and often times that is how the Lord begins. It is very rare that a big change happens in one giant step. Often times it begins in little steps adding up to a great change. Although I left my church quickly, I did not immediately step into my destiny of working with Global or traveling with Global. The Lord takes us all on a process that shapes us more like Him and allows us to grow into a position that can sustain what He gives us.
I plan to continue delving deeper into the three points mentioned earlier and share some stories with them in future blog posts. I want to encourage you that it is so worth allowing the Lord to take you on a process with Him. He delights in the journey with us. “Do not despise these small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin” (Zechariah 4:10 NLT).
Lord, I pray for those reading that you would remind them of your faithfulness to help them fulfill their call. I pray that you would bless them with strong relationships, wisdom, and favor from you. May we be as the wise builder and not as the foolish one but build our house on your solid foundation. Thank you Lord for your process.
“Anyone who listens to my teaching and follows it is wise, like a person who builds a house on solid rock. Though the rain comes in torrents and the floodwaters rise and the winds beat against that house, it won’t collapse because it is built on bedrock.” (Matthew 7:24-25 NLT).