Since December we’ve had an unusual number of major challenges in the ministry that have had significant personal impact. As I’ve sought the Lord through all of this I began seeing how, when situations appear overwhelming, I tend to go to despair or domination. The amount of perceived control I have determines which way I go.
If it seems that I have control in the situation then I go to dominance. This tendency is one I’ve seen much more clearly in the last few years and I seldom go there now.
"Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.”
If it seems that I have little to no control I go to despair. I want to give up and quit. Those feelings usually don’t last long but lately they have come more often and it seems that I go there more quickly than in the past.
I was meeting with a friend last Tuesday in Birmingham. I could feel myself struggling some and so I chose to be vulnerable about what I was experiencing. He vigorously pursued me and as he did I realized that both extremes are driven by results. Good results like partner churches, Battle for Your Heart participants, coming through for people personally and organizationally. It seems that these results are often tied to organizational success.
As the light dawned, it struck me that I’m violating my own definition of masculinity: to engage with strength and love offering life and growth to my domain. The key word is offering, not controlling, not despairing; just offering life motivated by love and not success. I also realized that I’m focusing on temporal circumstances and not eternal realities.
As conviction and repentance came, I experienced peace, rest and joy.
On Wednesday I met with two elders at Oak Mountain to review their Key Leader Coaching process. In one evaluation sent prior to the meeting he wrote his key verse from the process at the top:
“Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.” Deuteronomy 31:6
I laughed then and I do now. This is the passage, along with Joshua 1, that I’ve been reflecting on almost every day since December 10. God was clearly whispering to me his words from Joshua 1:9
As feelings of discouragement come, I choose to engage with love, strength and courage not giving way to discouragement or despair but trusting God for his eternal purposes to be worked out regardless of what I can or cannot see in the present circumstance.
When I pause to reflect and still my soul I see and know God is here. I trust his heart and his eternal purposes. I see amazing, beautiful ways he is speaking, guiding and providing providentially, supernaturally. When I stay in this knowing there is hope, joy, peace, perseverance and ultimate victor