Don’t Miss God Because You Don’t Understand
Generally, I think it’s safe to say that we are quite convinced of our opinions and perspectives on life. When we think about it, we know that we don’t know it all. The challenge is when we don’t think about it, we forget. As leaders, you and I will benefit the people in our organizations we lead, whether they be in our companies, nonprofits, volunteer groups, or families, by recognizing this common limiting bias within ourselves and make every attempt to keep in under wraps. Let’s open ourselves up to how big God is and how big his ideas are for our assignments and that of those we lead. Take a look at this scripture with me.
“Brothers, you know that some time ago God made a choice among you that the Gentiles might hear from my lips the message of the gospel and believe. God, who knows the heart, showed that he accepted them by giving the Holy Spirit to them, just as he did to us. He did not discriminate between us and them, for he purified their hearts by faith. Now then, why do you try to test God by putting on the necks of Gentiles a yoke that neither we nor our ancestors have been able to bear? No! We believe it is through the grace of our Lord Jesus that we are saved, just as they are.” Acts 15:7-11
I was listening to a message by a pastor yesterday morning. He pointed out several times throughout recent and ancient church history where God moved in ways that the established church didn’t quite accept. He pointed out the Jesus People movement where hippies, sometimes right in the middle of LSD trips, were encountering Jesus, and coming by the droves into churches. They didn’t look, talk, or smell like the other church goers but they definitely had encountered Jesus and were willing to worship together with people very different from them. The established church goers were not quite as accommodating in many cases. Another example was the Catholic Charismatic Renewal. At that time protestant churches taught rather vehemently that the catholic church was purporting heresies and no one from that tradition could possibly have a genuine relationship with Christ and Holy Spirit. Well, they did – even in the midst of all that misunderstanding and misapplication of scripture. And then the pastor went to the book of Acts where the Jewish followers of Jesus were having real issues with these gentile believers not following the closely-held traditions of the Jewish faith. In fact, these believers were pretty confused about a lot having come from totally polytheistic cultures.
I chuckled at these examples then stopped chuckling when I recognized I can be just like these others.
I realized in that moment that when I pray to God for a fresh move and transformation in a church, business, and organization, I have in mind that everyone will come to see my side of things. They will see and understand like I do. They will see that the organization should be governed and directed how I think it should be governed and directed. It will be glorious when everyone comes around to see things correctly! Admittedly, it sounds absurd as I write this blog – I know!
The idea that God’s move may require me to grow to where others are rather than them grow to where I am, was absolutely not on my radar. It’s a little embarrassing how egotistical this looks – but it’s just the truth. I need a mindset shift here – and maybe you do to.
So, let’s open our hearts just a little bit more to how big God is and how big he moves. We’ve all had those moments where God worked in something but did it in a way that we did not expect. Let’s just recognize that a little sooner; let’s cooperate earlier in the process! When we see someone’s walk with God and it doesn’t seem quite like what we have experienced, let’s open our hearts a little bit wider to allow Holy Spirit to lead both us and them! When someone suggests passionately that the organization head in a different direction than we would lead, let’s not immediately write it off as wrong. Let’s grow by appreciating what God is doing in and through others just as much as what He’s doing in and through us. Maybe this is just a slightly different aspect of the “love your neighbor as yourself” bedrock principle.
One thing I am confident of – when we can see a bigger picture than the one we have painted on our own canvass, great growth is ahead!