Tuesday, July 28, 2015

What if things don't work out like you planned? (a leadership thought)

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"Blessed is anyone who takes no offense at me.”- Jesus in Luke 7:23

As you'll recall, John the Baptist's God-given mission was to introduce Jesus to the masses. (see John 1:29-34)  And he had proven himself to be a healthy leader by leveraging his influence to help someone else (Jesus) succeed.  People began to follow Jesus instead of John, which was all a part of the plan. (see John 3:30)

But at this point in the story John the Baptist had been left to rot in Herod's dungeon.  He had fallen from being the famous "prophetic voice in the desert" into obscurity.  Now he was languishing in prison because of his fiery rhetoric. (see Luke 3:19-20)  And aside from a few disciples, no one seemed to care.  I can definitely understand the fact that John felt a bit abandoned and forgotten... and probably even disappointed and disillusioned.

So He sent His disciples to confirm that Jesus was who he (John) had claimed.  After all, this wasn't the way a man of God should end his days.  Maybe he thought he and Jesus would be able to hang out together.  Maybe he expected a little more respect as the first one to truly affirm who Jesus really was. It could be that he thought he would die in peace since he had fulfilled his purpose. Whatever the case may be, we find him questioning whether he had missed God's will or not. 

Notice that Jesus wasn't offended by John's question.  Isn't it encouraging to know that God's not afraid of your questions?  In fact, Jesus gave demonstrative proof (according to Isaiah 61:1-2) that He was exactly who John initially claimed He was.  Now John would be able to die in peace, knowing he'd had a part in God's Master Plan.

Pastors: Are you questioning your call?  Have things not worked out like you planned, or as you prayed they would?  Have you not seen the growth or influence you expected to have?  Does it seem that God has forgotten you?  You need to know that God is not finished with you until you are dead.

After John's disciples left Jesus spoke to the crowd about him. (Luke 7:24-28)  Here we can see Jesus' high degree of respect for him.  He tells the crowd that John is the greatest man to live up to that time.  Why is this?  It's because John had completed the work that God had called him to do.  He'd had a part in turning a nation to repentance and connecting them to their Messiah.  I don't believe it was the scope of God's call upon John the Baptist that got Jesus' attention.  It was his absolute obedience to it, even though it meant he would fade into obscurity after his time in the spotlight was finished.  John must have felt like a failure.  But Jesus said he was a great man of God.

Let me encourage you today: Don't throw in the towel.  Keep moving forward.  God has a HUGE plan for you.  And as long as you're breathing He's not finished with you yet.  Unfortunately here on this earth we can't see from God's eternal perspective.  But when we get to heaven it will have all been worth it - every moment of sacrifice, every sleepless night of prayer, every time we kept going when we wanted to quit.  God revealed Himself to a runaway slave as "the God who sees." (see Genesis 16:13)  He hasn't changed!

What words would you have to spiritual leaders that are thinking of quitting?  Join the discussion below.

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