March 18, 2012

Great Message

Pastor Gary Walter, President of the Evangelical Covenant Church in America spoke at our church service this morning. His message was part three of our series on "We Make a Difference." Our Associate Pastor's (Lead Pastor protempore) focus has been on how we, as Christians, have the opportunity to make a difference in our homes, our churches, our community, our nation and our world. Pastor Walter spoke today on Growing Leaders, and what makes a good leader. It was a very inspirational message, and very apropos for the time.

I have blogged recently about my sensing a change in my life, and how that change unsettles me. I am not a big fan of change, and prefer the comfort of the status quo. My favorite thing to do is NOTHING -- I mean -- really NOTHING. I love just being myself, being alone, and being alone with my thoughts. I don't want to shake things up, I don't want to be active. I am passive, and I am happy being this way.

The funny thing (curious) is that God is all about change. He is the active agent in our universe, and he is actively pursuing the lost and the lonely. God is all over CHANGE, and whether that change promotes hurt or healing (ultimately healing), He is the author and perfecter of changing behaviors, changing attitudes, and of course, changing lives.

As I consider all that God has done in my life, all the change that He has allowed me to experience, one thing is for certain: God is all about changing my life for the better. Yes, some of the change that I have experienced has been painful, and it has wounded me deeply. Yet, through that hurt, I have learned vital lessons for living, and I have come to know the Great Healer, the ONE who heals my brokenness and enables me to live fully devoted to Him.

Now that I am the recipient of that inward change, I am facing outward change that is continuing to cause me to rethink and reevaluate my position, my place, and my purpose. I understand His Call on my life, and I understand where I am going. I can see my way, but the path I am on, is not quite the path I need to be on to get to that place, that point in time where I will be able to do the work He asks of me.

In today's message, however, Pastor Walter shared something that helped me understand why I am where I am right now, and how I am to live out my days while I am moving towards the place where He has called me to minister and serve. In my timeline, I am in mid-stream -- not quite there yet -- but definitely not where I used to be. I am in transit - in loco motion. I am moving forward at a steady rate, not standing still, not stationary. I am far from my destination, but I am somewhere along the path that is leading me to that place.

That PLACE is heaven. I realize that now. I have been so focused on getting to a literal place that I have not stopped to think about the Lord's motive. Yes, I focus on His Will, and on His Explicit instruction to me as far as my calling. I simply have not considered the ultimate role I am to play in the eternal scheme as well as to role I will play in the work assigned to me. God has graciously enabled me to understand His Calling. He has given me direction, focus, and a set of plans to follow. He has provided a road map, so to speak, of where I am now and a path to follow to get to where He wants me to be. I mixed the message up with the literal, the "here and now." And, with my deep need to know, I misunderstood that what I am to do wasn't really about the "here and now;" but rather, it was about the eternal Kingdom and the hereafter.

Pastor Walters message on great leadership, and what makes a person great was taken from Jesus' own message as recorded in Matthew. In three specific places, Jesus gives us the definition of what makes a person great -- according to God. The three Biblical keys to greatness lay in:
  • Character
  • Conviction
  • Commitment
We are called to be people of character, to be strongly convicted of God's purpose and plan, and committed to doing what is asked of us. Character requires a devotion to God, and without character -- it is impossible to be convicted nor committed to any person or cause. In his message today, Pastor Walter focused on three components of character:
  • Matthew 5 = obedience
  • Matthew 18 = humble
  • Matthew 22 = servant
In short, God calls us to be people of character, and in doing so He expects us to demonstrate the following characteristics -- we are to be obedient, humble servants of the Lord. Pretty simple really, pretty easy to digest. Nothing more, nothing less. We are to walk in such a way as we DO what God asks of us, we do not take credit for what is not ours, and we seek the good will of others ahead of ourselves.

"No, O people, the LORD has told you what is good, and this is what he requires of you: to do what is right, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God." ~ Micah 6:8 NLT

Let's consider these three things:
  • To do what is right means that we do what God's Word says we should do. We listen to the Word, we do what is asked of us, and we base our decisions and judgments upon the precepts of God.
  • To love mercy means that we are to seek the welfare of others, to give Grace where it is not always warranted or deserved, to be kind to those regardless of whether they are kind in return.
  • And lastly, to walk humbly with God means that we are to remember that we are flesh, we are flawed, and no matter what this world says about us, we are NOT GOD. He is God and we are His workmanship -- created for Him, by Him, and because of Him.
As I sit here today, I give thanks to God for this understanding. I get it now. I really grasp what has been missing, what has been the missing component for my understanding. I was thinking about me, and about what  God wanted me to do. I know this now, and I understand that while that is not wrong, per se, it does run the risk of self promotion and self aggrandizement. This is something I want to steer clear of, and to avoid at all cost. I am not God. I am not the author of these plans. I cannot even do the plans, do the tasks, complete the work. I am helpless, am hopeless, and unable to do one thing to accomplish the will of the Lord.

He is able. He can do all things. Nothing is impossible for Him. 

So I write this now, and I consider carefully the words of the Lord. I want to be this kind of leader. I want to be GREAT according to God's definition of Greatness. This means that I am to Love God, to Love His People, and to Love the work He has called me to do. No more, no less -- there is nothing else -- but this work.

I am moving forward. I am moving closer to doing the thing He has asked me to do. I must not lose focus. I must not consider my work, my place, my education or any other thing as being higher, as being more important or as being the "primogeniture" of His will.  I am His to do with as He pleases, and I am doing the work He asks me to do. I am satisfied. I am content. I know that He will do all that He has promised me. I am ready, Lord. I am ready to do your work this day.

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