Guidance – Obedience vs Initiative
November 13, 2006
Guidance – Obedience vs. Initiative
Yakima – The conference in Yakima was everything we’d hoped for… passion, changed lives and lots of laughter. Seeing the video clip Howard and Leslie Ferris brought back from Pakistan brought tears of appreciation to every eye… “civil engineer and wife lead 55,000 Muslims to Christ.” Kings are hitting some home runs and it’s an exciting privilege to be a part of this movement.
Guidance – It was interesting to get a read on a cross section of God’s people. One question gave me a special insight into what was happening in individual lives. This is it:
God led us to do _____ in our business that had a great profit potential. But, since we took the action, we haven’t seen any results. What’s wrong?
Answer – maybe nothing, but the phrase in bold is suspect.
Our Christian culture places a huge premium on “servants” who are good at hearing and obeying God… as well it should. I have seldom given or heard a sermon that didn’t allude to God having spoken or given some kind of direction via the Holy Spirit. Now if God gives some kind of revelation and you’re a half bubble off it usually doesn’t harm anyone and we usually have a friend that cares enough to tweak us back to the middle of the road. However, if we’re a King and our decisions cost us money, that’s a little different story. Being corrected after the fact doesn’t restore the financial impact.
We’ve all been there – Most of us felt led by God at some time to do things that didn’t work. Here’s the emotion we have to deal with. “God, why did you lead me out on this limb and saw it off?” “Well, to perfect our character of course” is the answer we gamely give ourselves. Sometimes we get so used to thinking we’re being perfected in the wilderness while everything goes wrong that it’s hard to salvage a praise report. Surprisingly, faithful believers trudge on after elevating the wonderful blessing of tribulation, trials, trouble, and loss. We simply shift our theology to the importance of suffering and prepare for the next bloody nose instead of fixing the problem.
Will real maturity please stand up – All our sermonic input has led us to believe the Holy Spirit is supposed to lead us on a daily basis. I want to reverently suggest that’s patently false! All mature Christians go through fairly long stretches without hearing from God – at least on the business decision of interest. Here’s the failure point of the decade – we’re not supposed to be servants that just hear and obey.
I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. 16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit — fruit that will last. Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in my name. John 15:14-16
Friends – We do start our faith as servants that learn to obey… or we reap the consequences of God’s loving discipline. However, as we mature God invites us up to “friend” status and starts to treat us differently. He still speaks to us, but he stops making our decisions. The Holy Spirit becomes our counselor, but He doesn’t make our decisions for us either. God doesn’t have the future all pre-scripted such that we just have get a glimpse of the cosmic monitor in prayer and act it out. The future is open regarding most of the details of our business and God is inviting us to choose some of our own destiny. He’s showing us the general plan and then He’s saying, “I’ll give you whatever you ask in my name.”
So why did my “guidance” fail? – For starters we took an action and claimed “God told us” when he probably didn’t. It was just our “slightly out of whack” theology that required us to convince ourselves that it was all God’s idea. Then… when it doesn’t work, we’re stuck. We have to, 1) blame God, or 2) attribute being stuck to character building, or 3) just simply remain stuck having “faith” that God will somehow get us “unstuck”.
What if we just admitted to ourselves that it’s OK to pursue our the passion of our heart’s. God loves our initiative and promises to give us the desires of our hearts (Ps 37:4). Then, when something goes wrong we simply ask for His wisdom, make a mid-course correction and move on. Here’s where we really fail after something starts going wrong under the “obedience” approach to life. If we believed that “God told us to,” we won’t likely hear and make the mid-course correction! Why? If God didn’t specifically guide us to start something, He’s not going to provide the mid-course correction either. Now God can interrupt us at any time with specifics and he occasionally does. But here’s the norm, “He wants you to make specific, sanctified decisions and all the mid-course corrections that are needed to make your dream successful.” You’re responsible – not God!
Be strong and of good courage – Would you like to know why Joshua got that admonition about eight different times? It’s because God was inviting a leader to make some decisions, exercise some initiative, and take whatever land they chose to put their foot on. And… the Holy Spirit is inviting you to do exactly the same thing.
I will give you every place where you set your foot, as I promised Moses. Josh 1:3
If you insist that God make all the decisions as a symbol of your spirituality, you’ll just get frustrated and hurt because He simply won’t do it. If you choose to find the fortitude to take the responsibility to make wise decisions and make the adjustments that go with them you start a great adventure and God will back you all the way.
If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. 6 But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. 7 That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord; 8 he is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does. James 1:5-8 NIV
If you doubt that God wants you ask for wisdom and then make decisions, life will blow you around like a leaf in the wind and so will the devil. The common denominator I see in Kings that have turned the corner to receive God’s favor is their willingness to put the Kingdom first, make decisions, and wield authority in the face of adversity. They don’t get stuck even if they fail. They just keep right on resurrecting, making wise decisions, wielding authority, getting blessed, and blessing others out of their overflow.
PS: and they have fun doing it.
Life is an adventure. People are a blessing. God is amazing. We’re winning.
John & Harold (are dancing – Join us)
You can get your copy of Releasing Kings for Ministry in the Marketplace at