“God always gives His best to those who leave the choice to Him.”
Continuing on from this year’s discipleship conference, one of the points of affirmation that spoke loudly to me was this concept of how often we chase our ambitions to the point of exhaustion and burning out. Strong ambition and initiative are a byproduct of youth, which can be a very good thing when applied right. But as the saying goes, too much of a good thing can be a bad thing. It’s a common theme that I see in my generation, this idea that we have to make it happen now, frantically chase success, and reach our purpose all the while struggling to maintain a healthy balance with life. Elder Sean Holland once said, “stop chasing destiny when God is the destination.” It was well said and got me excited, but it really took a while before I actually “got it.”
There’s nothing wrong with making it happen and being about it when it comes to your goals and aspirations. Ambition, initiative, determination, passion – all of these are needed to succeed in anything worthwhile, but the question is… what am I applying these to, am I balanced in my life, and how does it all fit into God’s agenda? Church folks always talk about being in the “will of God”, “His plan”, “finding our purpose” and so on, but have we actually considered what God wants when it comes to what we apply our ambition, initiative, determination and passion to? Especially those of us who are active in ministry, we willingly assume that we must be doing all of the right things because we’re there and people are being blessed, but have we considered what God is really asking us to do or not to do? The demands of life can drain us of all of our passion, if we allow it. Balance is key and I believe that being led by Christ helps us to stay in balance.
But what if we accomplished our goals and did great things, like we all desire to, only to find out that God never asked us to do that or to do it that way? I believe that God plants purposes within us that are intrinsic to our goals. Which is to say that you feel led or called to something for a reason and should prayerfully pursue it, but do it following Jesus. That’s what being a Jesus follower is really about. This challenged my perspective because even though I had done great things in ministry and business, I believe that I also encountered a lot of unnecessary heartache and stress because I did it my way at times or took on things that God didn’t ask me to do it all. I was going, going and going til I was almost gone, working on grace to working my own strength. I was emptied of the passion that propelled me along the way.
‘If we’re driven by our call, we’ll live by it instead of Christ.’
God gives us our abilities and talents and can help us the best in how to balance them in the scheme of life. More importantly, we can do so much more within our area of calling and purpose with God, than we could without God. Rather than being a public success and a private failure, this is success on every front. For the first time in a long time, since I became an adult, did I feel the weight of having to make something of myself lifted with the reassurance that if I follow and stay obedient to Christ, stay balanced and be determined, I’ll do more than make something of myself – I’ll fulfill my destiny or calling. I’ve had to re-evaluate some goals because maybe some of my goals were not some of God’s goals for my life to begin with. Maybe some goals were for a season and now it’s time to move on. These are great lessons in trust and obedience – the pillars of a relationship with Jesus. I’ve had to put everything on the table with God again and ask what does He want for my life. Following and staying obedient to Christ is only the first step, and cannot substitute for the hard work, ambition, initiative, determination and passion that we have to apply in the next step. Don’t get it twisted – you have to do something. But hearing God’s voice and following His leading goes a long way!
Sometimes we’re chasing success so much and trying to bless, help and change the world without appreciating the journey and what God is doing in us along the way. A speaker from the conference said this, “in your 20s and 30s, it’s way more important what God is building in you than what He is building through you.” We become riddled in the pursuit of ‘what is my purpose’ and then pursuing what we feel that is. I’ve learned that purpose is not a destination, it’s a journey. I know that God wants to fulfill the desires of our heart, but has a plan and purpose for what and how we do with our lives. And when we can hear His voice and follow Him in the little and big things, the fulfillment and accomplishment is unmatched. Consider God’s voice!
John 10:3-4 To him the gatekeeper opens. The sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice.