Ever been involved in some crazy good work for the gospel? Maybe mission projects & travelling, a new ministry, teaching, leading in some sort, or any other kind of hands on ‘making big things happen’ type of work? Ever been trekking along in this and then out of no where it seems to come to a halt, or something happens and God seems to have pulled you out of the middle of it all and into something a little more, well…boring? This post is for you.
If you are like me, you are all or nothing when it comes to the things you are involved in. I’m a dreamer. When I catch a glimpse of what He wants me involved in, I run with it. My mind comes up with the biggest goals, the ‘craziest’ possibilities, and I believe Him to be faithful in bringing those about. I think this is good. I have been a part of some incredible happenings so far in my pursuit of following Christ. I have shaken things up and created some real change. I have blazed past the status quo things church people typically settle for and pushed for greater and bigger. Sometimes God allows these little glimpses of what could be into our minds, sometimes He calls to us to jump and see what He will do. It can be pure exciting, adrenaline-rushing, life-as-it-was-meant-to-be, adventure.
Sometimes, however, God calls us away from an outward focused mission like these and into an inward mission of restoration and healing. As crazy, busy, and work-filled as these outward missions and visions can be, the seasons of inward work can be a lot more intense. In fact, they can be outright draining, and many times we are not aware of what is actually happening. It can seem like we have done something wrong. We are not seeing the growth that we want in our ministry. We are praying to be used in big ways, but the types of opportunities we used to have don’t seem to be opening up anymore. Is something wrong with us? Where is the disconnect? Is God done with us? Were we crazy?
If we are not careful, we will get stuck in several thought-traps. We may feel guilty because we can’t seem to ‘get it together’ and get back to whatever it was we were doing before when ‘big’ things were happening. We may feel exhausted because we’re continuing to try and force those big things to happen. We may embrace a stubborn pride and a ‘secret life’ because inside we’re falling apart but outside we’re determined to keep up a good appearance until we figure out what’s going on. We may become angry, frustrated, and ultimately disconnect from God because He seems to not be answering our prayers to be used. We may become resentful of others because no matter how much effort we put into ‘helping’ others we don’t seem to be seeing any results. In the end, we may begin to doubt our calling, purpose, and even identity because nothing seems to be clear anymore.
In these times we need to stop trying to run so fast and simply stop and listen. Where is He at work and what is He wanting to show us? Sometimes we clearly see what He is showing us and our reaction is ‘Eh, yeah, but uhh, that is not such a big deal, it doesn’t really effect me that much, plus there are all these people that need this, and this project over here..’ We need to submit, obey, and commit ourselves to working with Him, on ourselves. We need to remember that our calling is to Christ, not to a place or a ministry or a project. Where He goes, we follow, and sometimes He stops walking forward, turns around, and looks into our hearts. We have to follow Him there as well.When we achieve the healing and restoration that we need for the next step, the outward call will come again.
One of the things I’ve begun to look for before giving my respect to anyone in an authoritative position is what they are learning. Don’t show me your degree, or tell me what you have been teaching or ‘doing’. Tell me what He has been teaching you. Tell me what ‘ouch, that hurts a little’ lessons He has been giving you.
How has He been working on you? Too many of us as leaders are guilty of not being able to answer that- we’re too busy ‘working’ on others.
Sanctification is a process. He grows us, uses us, then grows us some more. We are in for a continual process of learning, sharing out of what we have learned, and then learning a little more. I think this is intentional as a way to fight against our pride. It is easy to slip into the mindset of “understanding” God and the Bible and knowing exactly what people need to hear or do or be taught in their current situation. We will never have it all together. If you think you do, I would caution you to check yourself. There is never a point that comes when we have arrived and get to coast and pour out for the rest of our life, as if we’ve learned it all and now it’s our time to instruct others. If we keep in mind that we are currently learning something new, He is currently working on us in new and deeper ways, we will remain humble in our approach to sharing with others.
I’ve found the most rewarding times are when He moves through us and enables us to speak out of what we have learned and into the lives of others. We can’t continue in that if we don’t continue to let Him teach us. If we stubbornly refuse to look within when He points something out to us, if we wallow in the inward seasons instead of facing our issues and confronting the problems that He is calling to our attention, we will never move forward.
So take heart! Is God calling you to an inward-focused season of personal growth and healing? Are there deeper issues that He is leading you to face? Identify them and begin to face them. It may be hard, scary, painful, and something that seems really inconvenient. You may simply want to get back to pouring out and accomplishing great things and fixing other people. But there is always a bigger purpose. He knows, He sees, and His working on us is always very intentional. Great things are to come.