Matching Your Own Ambitions to God’s Expectations

This section most often rears itself in church leadership.  Many men can align themselves with God’s moral and ethical expectations but few men can align their expectations and plans to God’s.  The most difficult enemy for ambitious men to defeat is the “unmet expectations” enemy.  Vision is the general term asked of pastors. It implies that a pastor can “see” where the church will go and how it will get there.  Pastors are “forced” to relay a positive future for the congregation even if the prospective pastor knows pain and discipline awaits the church.  After all, all prophetic visions in the Scripture were positive, right?

The word “vision” is a borrowed pagan term used to describe illumination in a leader’s mind to the future prospects of a company.  It asks what leader sees positive in an institution that could carry it forward to prosperity.  A vision-minded leader is someone who can see the positive aspects of a church and turn the positive into a growing membership.  Vision is concerned with the future, with results, and with manipulation.  To follow one’s vision is to emphasize the good rather than the bad to the point that a leader gets the good he wants.

Expectations for oneself drive many so-called visions.  Scriptural visions always occur via direct interaction from God through some angelic inspired dream or trance.  We reject those types of discernments as witch-craft and divining techniques off limits for a closed cannon system.  Most men put programs, initiatives, and strategies in place to guide them to their expectations.  Vision is a spiritual-language veil for personal ambition.

Matching our expectations to God’s is challenging because it means we have to give up our expectations and submit to God’s plans.  We must cultivate an attitude of response.  That is, an attitude that looks for God’s revealed direction – James 1:5 – and responds in due time.  This attitude can seem lazy or stir the impatient.  It tends to frazzle typically churched people used to doing, doing, doing.  They want to see motion toward ones vision and seldom endure the short game approach to responding to God.

We must engage in a direct pursuit of God’s ends.  It is acceptable to review where we have been and where we may be going to discern future plans.  Estimating a trajectory depends on past and present data to determine the end point of an endeavor.  While possible and practical, the trajectory we discern must always land within the range of Scripture.  It is important to view God’s ends as focused primarily on the spiritual and eternal rather than on buildings.  God is busy in people rather than in programs.  Finding staff people will match this emphasis.  One’s thinking in regards to staff should always look toward the traits of the person developed by God rather than the position description needs.  God fits people to a congregation rather than program organizers to programs.

We must cling to an “as-we-go” mentality.  Particularly in struggling churches, we must see ministry as focus of our day.  Our home, our family, and our community serve as fertile ground to meet people.  One may not have access to willing or able people, but he will have accesss to the “as-we-go” forum of his daily life.  Avoiding vision-based initiatives means the outreach task of the church carries less emphasis than the individual energy of the people.  Ministry remains the property of the people rather than the program of the church.

The most descriptive question so often accompanying depression and discouragement is, “Lord, who am I.”  The question implies an inquiry of ability and of importance.  It asks God to comment on a person’s worth and ability rather than on God’ supremacy.  Failed vision and unmet expectations join forced to destroy ministers struggling because they feel inadequate for the task and unable to live-up to congregational expectations.  Sooner or later, every minister will underperform and critically fail.  The “Lord, who am I” question waits to destroy.

The question to ask in failure and unmet expectations is, “Lord, who are you.”  To focus on the person of God, his power and his faithfulness is to reinstall the critical component of our strength.  God is faithful.  He cares for his church.  He looks for a person to respond to him.  He has his own plans and ends.  He provides opportunity “as-we-go”.

Matching Your Expectations to God’s

  1. Vision’s enticement: What a vision is and where we derived the idea
    1. A vision is a steering mechanism used to make decisions

i.      A form of divining

ii.      Refers to direct revelation from God

  1. It is not a Scriptural perspective
  2. Why “vision” language harms

i.      Its seeking an agenda in abstentia of the Lord’s direction

ii.      It assumes the future profile of the church/life can be deduced and/or manipulated

iii.      It seeks to discern what’s good from what we think is good.

  1. Expectations generally follow personal vision
    1. Vision assumes the future and your expectations assume outcomes
    2. Neither may occur either as you see them or as you expect them to occur
    3. You put you in the position of control of the church’s future and the measure of your own success.
  2. Expectations of God: What we can expect from God – Acts 3:12
    1. God will build His church – attitude of response
    2. God will cleanse and cultivate righteousness – Direct pursuit of God’s ends
    3. God will efficiently use the faithful – “as we go” mentality
  3. How to defeat the number and performance expectation
    1. Don’t ask, “Lord, who am I” – Ex. 3
    2. Ask, “Lord, who are you”

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