Where are we going? Has it been done like this before? How will we know we are "doing it right?" Will God (as I currently understand Him) bless our efforts?
As 2020 begins, I am reflective. Honestly, I often am as I grow older.
I am more and more able to look back over the years and see that my life has had one consistent theme ... serving others. Serving makes my heart happy, it makes me feel full of purpose and offers me great internal peace. However, I also can see over the years it is also able to deceive me. Let me explain.
In the corporate world, I found great success by discerning the strengths of others and empowering them. I tried to edify their strengths to take first steps of faith toward their chosen goals in business and in life. It is a source of some of my most treasured "serving of others" memories.
Today, I still hear from those I served years ago. They speak kind words of gratitude regarding how something I said or did assisted them in believing again to make a choice. Often, they did this for me at the same time! But there was a dark side to my serving, there is always a dark side in our humanity.
My servant leadership created a problem in my heart - I became increasingly selfish and dismissive of those in my life as my personal success increased. It was a slow creep. I thought by serving others I was doing a good job and that this work was the place my hope and security was found. Better, I placed my life and my hope in the serving of others as a way to be "good enough" to be loved by God and others. My corporate title and business success became my master. Common deception; differing circumstances.
As time passed, I increasingly found my whole identity in my title and my work. The rat race wheel zoomed faster and faster but I still had the title so I must be "good enough" because the accolades of others, the service awards, and the ridiculous amounts of money kept rolling in.
However, I was dying inside. Spiritually, I increasingly had no time for God and my family; I was "too busy." I was killing the relationships in my life through neglect disguised as corporate success and leadership achievement. Those in my life that I loved, appreciated, and treasured were now viewed as obstacles to "my" corporate success. I was a "mover and a shaker" but on the inside I was spiritually dead and lifeless. I lost all passion and purpose; life was devoid of joy. I was a dead man running from the truth of my deception.
Then it happened, my moment of grace disguised as increasing challenges and chaos!
Unable to discern who I had chose to be and who I was becoming, the Great Recession stole my solid retirement; I had two heart attacks; my spouse left me, and my best friend withdrew because she no longer knew who this "I" was. There I sat. The perfect home, in the perfect subdivision, with the perfect career, and more money than I thought I could ever make in my life. My house of cards was falling and I was going down with it - and I never even noticed I was deceived! I had lost focus on the little things and choices life offers for redirection.
In the Fall of 2008, I discerned change was possible in an impossible situation. However, I would have to leave it all and begin again. The hope of change experienced in my self-inflicted hopelessness was the beginning of an amazing journey of faith begun by offering an available obedience to the unknown. For me, I discovered this kind of obedience is walking by faith and not by what I see or think I know!
"By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going" - Hebrews 11:8, NIV
"It's impossible to please God apart from faith. And why? Because anyone who wants to approach God must beleive both that He exists and that He cares enough to respond to those who seek Him." - Hebrews 11:6, The Message
A Lesson Learned
God reaches out to ALL who are ready to to respond with an available obedience to learn as you go. Most often, this is through the challenges and rarely around them. The challenges become the catalysts for transformational change! Even if there are many messes to manage, His message is full restoration in Christ and despite our messes and misunderstandings we can believe and begin again!
The way out of my mess was not easy; however, a peace was received at the first step of my journey following after Him. One choice at a time! There is no quick fix. We get to work toward God all the days we live. Don't give up; keep walking by faith despite all distractions. Be available and be obedient; He does all the work. We just make a choice.