Where do you see yourself next year? How about in three years, or five, or ten? Those questions often come up in the interview process, or when meeting with interns, but they easily stick with you for years. Over the past twelve years, I would have probably answered those questions at least twelve different ways. What we want to be when we grow up can change as much as often as the four seasons, or persist through years of growth. I’ve wanted to be everything from an astronaut to a youth pastor and an architect to a rock star.
Over the course of working and trying to figure out what I would some day become, I’ve often felt overlooked. I’ve watched positions open up that I wanted to fill, only to see someone else get the job. I’ve been leapfrogged by people who I was once a leader to. I’ve pressed hard to find my place, only to be met by closed doors and solid walls.
One thing that I haven’t done in regards to my career is fervent prayer and fasting. Sure, I’ve prayed for God to open doors to new job opportunities or for an interview to go well, but I’ve never truly sought His will in the matter. I’ve worked like it depended on me, but I haven’t prayed like it depended on God.
There are a couple of ways to approach seeking God’s will. One of them was preached by Pastor Scott Stevens a couple of weeks ago. Pray like it depends on God, but work like it depends on you. This is more applicable to after you know where God is leading, but you can also approach seeking His will in that way. Check out Scott’s sermon from a couple weeks ago:
Another way to approach seeking God’s will is the way that I have been nearly all my life. Pray a little, but chase after everything with the mindset that you are in control and it’s up to you where you go. When opportunities arise, you chase after them. When doors close in your face, you walk away feeling defeated and frustrated. While there is some progress at times, it is usually a false sense of progress, or it is short-lived or unfulfilling. In general, this approach does not work very well.
The last approach I want to discuss is one that seems counterintuitive. Wait. Do your best right where you are and allow God. Trust that God will put you in the right place at the right time, or bring the right opportunity to you. I am wired to be a fixer. If something is not right, I want to make it right. If I feel like I should be doing something else, I want to figure out how to get to that point.
I had a meeting yesterday with Kent Chevalier, and he shared something with me that he learned from Dave Buehring that speaks to this approach. Dave told him that he is done chasing. He is done following every lead and chasing after every opportunity that lines up with his calling. He is just going to wait on God to put him in the right places or bring him the right opportunities.
If you look in Scripture, this is the way that God moved people into His calling for them more often than not. David was a shepherd, sent to take his brothers a care package. Moses was doing his job when he came across the burning bush. Esther didn’t become queen because she had a great campaign, she was chosen to be queen because of her beauty. All of the disciples were chosen from where they were to follow Jesus. It would seem that if you just do your job, God will bring about change when it is the right time.
In our discussion, Kent reminded me of a scriptural example of someone who tried to position himself in the right place. The rich young ruler wanted to be one of Jesus’ close followers, but he went away from his encounter with Christ depressed and defeated. He tried to position himself as the right choice for Jesus’ next disciple, but he wouldn’t take the steps necessary to fully follow Him.
Fasting, prayer, waiting, and knocking my current role out of the park have been common themes that I’ve been hearing a lot in my search for my calling. I know I have a general calling to ministry, but I want to know my specific calling. I’m tired of waiting, even though I haven’t really waited when I compare it to Dave Buehring’s version of waiting. I’ve worked hard at my current role, but I know I haven’t fully reached my potential. As I mentioned before, my prayers have been shallow and fasting has been non-existent.
So here is my action plan:
- Keep at it in my current role. Do everything better than it’s been done in the past and innovate in my current role.
- Pray. Ask God for direction, discernment, wisdom, and patience.
- Fast a meal at least once per week. When the people of God fast, He moves in their lives. The point of fasting is to replace something (usually food) with prayer. This is an important spiritual discipline that I have lacked.
- Wait on God. Instead of chasing after every glimpse of an opportunity that I think I see, I am going to wait for God to bring opportunities to me, or put me in the right places.
The hard part of all of this is going to be sticking to it. One of the things that I took from Dave’s sermon this past weekend is that not every closed door is one that I should forget about and not every open door is one I should just run through. Dave Buehring’s taught practical ways to hear God in his sermon this past weekend. If you missed it, take some time to watch it now: