“I couldn’t do what you do.”
This is something I hear often as I am meeting with people in America and reconnecting. The conversation usually goes like this,
“I mean…to sell everything you own, move to a foreign country half way across the world, learn another language, and live by faith for your support day in and day out…I couldn’t do what you do.”
But I’m nobody special. Everything I’ve done has been empowered by God’s grace.
It has been me responding to that grace in a hundred thousand different ways over the last sixteen years. It has been about falling and getting right back up in pursuit of that thing for which God took a hold of me.
So this kind of conversation got me thinking.
What have a I done that has brought me to this place of being able to live out this kind of life?
Here are a few thoughts that came to mind and basis behind them. I hope you can see yourself in my story.
I freely volunteered as a response to an encounter.-
Isaiah the prophet was rocked by an encounter with Almighty God. (Isaiah 6) He saw is own sin and weakness in that encounter. Once he was at the end of himself, God asks for a volunteer. Isaiah was more than willing in the day of His power. He says, “Here I am Lord. Send Me!” That’s how I volunteered. I experienced his power in a crazy way so I was willing to volunteer in a “crazy” way. We need the power of God. Psalm 11o:3.
I see the infinite worth of Jesus and the Kingdom-
My heart and mind have been opened to the “pearl of great price” (Matt 13:46) and the “treasure hidden in the field.” (Matt 13:44) I see something that is eternal that will never fade away and I want to invest my life into that. Jesus said “store up for yourselves treasure in heaven.” (Matt 6:19-21) He speaks of the reward of leaving it all behind for his glory. (Matt 19:29, Mark 10:29, Luke 18:29)
I say “Yes”, before I understand “How.”-
Abraham is the father of faith. By his example I see how he took God at his word, left his own family and town, and went out to a land that God would show him. He went out not knowing where he was going. He said “Yes” before he understood “How.” Despite the faltering in his faith at time, he always pressed in to believe God by saying “Yes.” (Gen 12:4, Heb 11:8). Despite my inclination to be a skeptic and wanting to know they “whys and hows” every time, I press through & try to follow this example.
I step out & take risks based on God’s promises-
Since the beginning I have spoken to my “self” and said, “Either God is real or He is not.” “Either Jesus is who He says He is or He’s not. If he’s not, I want nothing to do with religion. I’m not playing church games. If He is, and I believe He is, then He is worth everything I could give…even my very life.” So, I try to take him at his Word and live it out in very practical ways.
I warm up before the workout.-
I learned early on that leaders make decisions, lots of them. They run head long into issues that others might run away from. So, I decided I wanted to be a leader for God and started putting myself in places where I had to make choices, hard choices, and solve problems. God challenged me early on that my goal was to be consistent in who I was- no matter where I was in life, who I was with, or what was happening to me. If I could be a witness for him while I worked 72 hours a week in a job that I didn’t like, around people I didn’t like, staying on track with the call of God on my life, then I could easily do it when I was doing what I really wanted to do. Alot of times in my life were preparation for the real work. The stretch, the burn, the pain was all to get me ready for the greater thing that was in store.
I have the right people around me-
First and foremost this has been my wife who has put her own hand to the work of God and is not willing to look back. She is a real treasure and gift. I also learned early on that we become like the people we hang around. The first people I hung around when I became serious about following God’s purposes for my life were people who lived on mission with God. I was surrounded by people who really prayed, who really took God at his word, who really loved people from the heart, and who really encouraged me to go after God. If I don’t have people like this in my life in a new season, I’ve gone out actively looking for them.
I have the right people believing in me-
You don’t need every person to believe in you, just the right people. I have been blessed to have people in my life who said four simple yet empowering words…”We believe in you.” From my pastors, to friends, to supporters, it takes an army of people to be involved in what we do. Without them believing and putting action to their faith, we wouldn’t be where we are today. These are the people who have believed and keep on believing. Their words backed by their actions. They “have a dog in the fight” as proof of what they have said with their words.
I work hard by God’s grace-
The Apostle Paul says, “I worked harder than them all, yet not I, but the grace of God in me.” I love this quote. Paul shows us that its all through grace AND hard work. Proverbial wisdom has always motivated me as well when it speaks of diligence. My wife can tell you that my life is not the- 9-5- only if I get a pay check- call from God. I am consumed by the call and I work hard at it. Sometimes we think people are successful in a vacuum, that they arrive where they are overnight. The reality is that they have put in a lot of hard work to get where they are, but in the Kingdom of God it is still all by His grace. I need loads of it every single day.
These are just a few keys to how I am able to do what I do.
At the end of the day, it is all about his glory and work in me, not what I have done or not done. I am a thankful man.