Glad Sad Fear Anger
I’d sensed for several months I was in some kind of “transition.” I prayed. I wrote in my journal. I listened for the voice of God. I sought the prayers and counsel of godly men and women who have known me for a long time. I waited.
The following is from a letter I wrote to a handful of close friends:
“I need your help. As I consider what the Lord has done in my life and I try to be objective as to where he might be leading me to invest the next years of my life, I keep coming back to this track record with “men” and the fruit that God seems to bring forth when I step into these arenas of ministry. And while doors are open to me to serve in the church through broader leadership roles like I have in the past, I’m asking God to confirm in me that this narrowing of focus is what He is calling me to -- and if it is, what this needs to look like in the short term with an eye towards the longer term.
Will you take some time over the next couple of weeks to pray for me? Ask God to affirm or confirm some of this in my life? I don’t know what to expect and don’t have anything specific in my mind. I’m just open and I am asking.
God has been clear to me in the past and I am expecting to hear from him now. I also know that He can speak to me through the support and counsel of friends like you who have known me for a long time and watched God at work in me and through me not in spite of my limp but even through it.
Will you pray for me? Will you ask God for insight you could give me? Will you respond back to me with any promptings He might give you in the days ahead?”
When I wrote to these friends I really was “open” and their feedback affirmed what God was showing me privately.
The last time I was in a transition like this, I prayed and waited for God to show me what He wanted me to do. Once I knew the PLAN, my PURPOSE (or mission) became accomplishing that plan and I became PASSIONATE about the purpose of accomplishing it.
The problem with this backwards approach of. . .
PLAN PURPOSE PASSION
. . . was that over time, so much became about accomplishing the plan. My worth was tied up in the plan. Other people became a subtle means of accomplishing the plan. And the virtue of the plan blinded me to how my drivenness was hurting me and hurting others (even those I loved). Regretfully, my passion was as much about the plan as it was the God who had led me to give my life to it.
Exhausting and misguided.
This time I wanted to do it differently.
PASSION PURPOSE PLAN
I started with PASSION. What did I really care about? Where did I gain energy? Where did I see the most significant fruit? As I looked into the rear view mirror of the previous twenty-five years of my life and ministry, regardless of the setting (whether on staff with Athletes in Action, FamilyLife, as a student in seminary, a church planter and church leader in Tennessee and more recently Alaska), engaging with men had been the common theme – and the place where I’d experienced God producing the most significant and lasting fruit in others and the greatest satisfaction internally for me.
The past is not always an indicator of the future, but like points on a map that trend a particular direction, sometimes looking over your shoulder can give you insight into your future. Additionally, it’s often the wounds from our past that open the door to our deepest passions (another blog for another time).
Clear in heart regarding my PASSION, I would look for my PURPOSE in a willing surrender to that passion. And move forward trusting God with what that PLAN would or could become.
Lots of fear. I didn’t know what I was going to do. Lots of trust. God, you have a plan. Little control. I didn’t know what tomorrow was going to look like . . . including how I would support my family through it all.
I’ve taken steps of faith like this before, but this time it felt and still feels different. I have little need to prove myself and lots of freedom to be who God made me to be and share what God is showing me and allowing me to experience with Him. I’m more passionate than I’ve ever been but more passionate about people and living with an open hand re: the plan.
Two years ago, even before I knew this transition was coming, I penned the following personal mission statement: To motivate, encourage, and equip leaders . . . specifically focused on unleashing men who see the greatness of their need and the greater sufficiency of the Gospel.
For the past two years, that’s what I’ve been doing with the Sage Hill Institute: helping leaders become who they were made to be so they can do what they were made to do.