In hundreds of conversations we have identified six "challenges" our generations face when considering ministry in a missions-related role. The six are: Faith, Finances, Family, Fit, Future and Fight. The purpose of examining these benefits is to help us see that God is really carefully managing our journey, and not getting in the way of a desired goal with all these obstacles.
FUTURE: The fifth "challenge", "obstacle", or "opportunity", depending on your perspective.
"What does God have for me in the future? I really want to get it right. If I do get involved in a new ministry role, what should it be? Where should it be? What should I do about the house? What about retirement? What about my kids and grandchildren? My aging parents?"
Our futures are a mixed bag aren't they? The sense of great opportunity and probably our best years ever! Kids are grown. We're feeling pretty healthy. Finances are scary but will probably turn around. We want to make a difference. We sense God is leading us to something.
The other part of the mixed bag is...where is he leading? What exactly am I supposed to do. There's a lot at stake. I don't want to make a mistake. How can I be sure that I take the right steps in my future?
I remember back in my college days when there was a lot of talk about finding God's "perfect" will for our lives. One of the dominant thoughts on the subject was that God had one perfect answer for each of our life situations and our job was to make sure we made the right decision. We had to find the exact center...the dot...the one right answer for life's major decisions...which college to attend, making sure we married the right person, getting the right job, having the right career, involvement in the right ministry, and on and on.
In 1980 Gary Friesen published Decision Making And The Will Of God, teaching there was no "dot" but that we were to use godly wisdom to make the best decisions, trusting that God was sovereign and would guide our decision-making. The subject of God's sovereign will, his moral will and his individual will is deep and thought-provoking and it is not our purpose to exhaust it here. But there are some helpful guidelines we can pass along:
God is not trying to trick us. He created us. He loves us. He cares for us. He teaches us that he has prepared good things in advance (future) for us to do (Eph. 2:10). Most of those good things are before us every day in the normal interactions of life, being Christ-like in the way we live and treat those around us. Others fall into the category of larger-impact decisions and, rightly so, we want to get it right.
If our heart is right, we cannot make a mistake. If we do happen to step in the wrong direction, God just changes the scenery. On the other hand, if our heart is not right we are mostly on our own, and as we see in James 1, we get blown and tossed around on the wave of every idea and possibility we see resulting in confusion and defeat.
A right heart is one that says I am willing Lord, with no conditions. " Your will, not mine", as was Jesus' constant example while here on earth. A heart that is not right usually has conditions to our obedience. "I'll serve you anywhere Lord, just don't send me to Africa." "Lord, as soon as I make enough money, I'll really start giving to you." "God, when I have enough to retire and not have to depend on anyone financially, I'll give all my time to serving you." "I'll do whatever you ask Lord, just don't make me leave my family."
In thinking about the future, and taking next steps, my counsel is to take the next logical step toward where you believe God is leading. Bounce your thoughts and ideas off of your spiritual mentor or confidant. If God gives you inner peace, keep moving. If you do not sense his peace, take a step back and take another logical step. The key is to take steps. Many times we do not take steps because we cannot see far enough down the road. That is what we often refer to as walking by sight. We are called to walk...take our next steps...by faith. Even if we can only see far enough for one step, we should take it. God is pleased by our faith and honors it.
The "unknown" of the future can be a challenge. Or...we can see it as an opportunity to grow in our faith and confidence in our Lord. The seeming "obstacle" of the unknown can actually provide opportunity for God to develop our character and our trust in him so we have something of true depth to offer those who need to know Jesus!
Finishers Project 2010