I was smack dab in the middle of one of the biggest battles of my entire ministry…I had just gotten my evangelist’s license, but still didn’t know exactly how God was going to work out everything for me in ministry, financially, or otherwise. All that I knew, was that God had told me to go, and I was going. My car had died, so I was believing Him for a new one. Several of my friends completely bailed on me, right when things got tough. And it seemed to be one of those “a teacher doesn’t talk during a test” wilderness seasons. During this crazy storm, I had a pastor tell me that I’d be better off to quit my entire ministry, and go work at Walmart, so at least then I would be sure when my tithe was coming in, and how much it would be. Plus, “what did I think I was going to be able to accomplish with no car. Oh, and if I “did get a job, someone would have to take me back and forth.” So basically I should just go play in traffic, and stop being such a burden to everyone. (Not his exact words, but you get the drift.) After all, trusting God to take care of my needs and provide for me while doing what He had called me to do, was a ludicrous idea, or so the conversation winded up suggesting. I stopped writing in my prayer journal for several months, because the pastor questioned whether or not I was even hearing from God, or if I was just making things up myself as I went along. Up until that point, I’d had a great deal of respect for that pastor, and for a short period of time, I actually started to question whether God had truly even called me to ministry. One day I was walking my daily track of 3.5 miles to somewhere that had Wifi, and God spoke to my spirit clear as day. He asked me who had called me by name, that pastor, or Him.
That scenario repeated many, many times, throughout the past several years. Different situations, but the underlying plot was the same. I’d believe God for things, and doubters would put their two cents in about whether God had truly spoken to me, or whether He was really capable or willing at all, to clean up what they believed to be the current “mess” in my life. Needless to say, I’m still in ministry, I’ve never worked at Walmart (I’m in no way saying that there’s anything wrong with anyone who does), and though that pastor welcomed me to come back to his church and say “I told you so”, once I became a “famous author”…I respectfully declined. But something changed in me the day that God asked me that question, and I never again doubted my call to ministry.
I’m not sharing all of this with you to bash that pastor. He is still reaching lives for Jesus all the time. I’m not sharing this for you to give me encouragement, or feel sorry for me, either. I’m well past that entire situation, and it taught me several valuable lessons. The reason that I’m sharing it, is to say this…what if at times, someone else is the answer to your prayer, and they don’t come through? You may be in the midst of the biggest battle of your life, and knowing that they as leaders hear from God, you assume that if they don’t respond, then God must not have said what you think He said. That maybe you’re not really called to ministry. Or were never supposed to be a worship leader at all. Or you were never supposed to be friends with that person, or pursue that relationship, or go to that church. But what if none of that is true? What if you are exactly where God told you to be? What if He did want you to pursue that relationship, or go to that church, or have that position, and they are choosing not to obey? Or what if it was just for a season, or it isn’t the right season?
Will you trust your Father, even when everyone around you is screaming a big “NO!” in your face? Will you believe what He told you, even when it looks like it’s never going to happen? Will you open your heart to God, and continue to use the gifts He has given you, even when someone tells you that you aren’t good enough? When you know you’re called to speak but they won’t even let you do the offering prayer in the kids room? When you know that you’re a worshipper, but you don’t make it on the worship team at church? Will you trust God NO MATTER WHAT???
Because those are the points when many people walk away from God, altogether. They heard God’s voice, He gave them a dream or a call that they didn’t even ask Him for, and then it doesn’t happen the way they thought. Or the friend God blessed them with dies…or the person they’ve been praying for chooses someone else….or they don’t make it on a specific team…or they aren’t appreciated at a specific church…they step out in faith for something that God asked them to, and then they never even get a call back.
And they start to think “What kind of cruel God are you, that you would tell me to believe you for big things, give me dreams that I never asked for, and then let them die!?” They begin to resent God, and decide that they don’t even want to serve Him anymore. Worshipers sinning, ministers stop ministering, and the most loving hearts in the world, close themselves off to love altogether.
But do you want to know why that happens? It isn’t because God is cruel. It isn’t because they misheard Him, and it isn’t because they don’t really have the gifts that they thought they had. Most times it isn’t even because they are believing God for the wrong things. It’s because their hope wasn’t in God, it was in that thing, or that person. People mess up. People fail. People disobey. People are people. If I told you the amount of “no’s” I’ve been on the receiving end of, the amount of times that people didn’t even respect me enough to call me and give a no, or the number of times I didn’t make the team I was hoping to make; you’d be reading until Jesus comes back, with plenty more to go. If my confidence or identity was found in people, the truth is, I would most likely have offed myself by now.
The reason that I keep going…the reason that I never give up, the reason that I have unshakeable confidence; is because my hope isn’t in any of those people…and my confidence isn’t in any of those things. It’s in knowing who I am in God. Because when you KNOW who you are in GOD, if your hope is in HIM, and you truly trust HIM; then you also trust His timing, you also trust His way instead of your own. And you also trust that even if someone blatantly disobeys God by rejecting you, or completely over looks you all together…that He WILL use all of your gifts for your food and His glory; somewhere else, or for someone else.
It’s not about you getting prideful, or having to prove yourself to those people. It’s about you keeping your heart right, and giving God all of the glory. It’s not about being arrogant with your gift, but having God confidence in it. The doors that God will open for you, you won’t even have to knock on, they’ll just open! Haters are gonna hate! But God will receive His glory, even so! He will make Plan B better than plan A even was. He will give you a better relationship, more supportive friends, and a healthier church. He’ll have you singing more places, reaching more people, and using your gifts in more ways to than you ever thought possible.
God isn’t limited by time. He isn’t confined to the walls of a building, or even the shores of a country. And He most definitely is not swayed by the opinions of people. God will never be affected by peer pressure, He doesn’t have any peers. There are NONE beside Him, and your heart for Him will take you further than your gift ever could. His anointing sounds better on someone who is tone deaf, than someone with the most amazing earthly talent can could ever sound without Him. Remember Who you’re connected to. If your “hometown” refuses to honor you, humble your heart and submit yourself to God…even when it doesn’t look like you thought it would, and it isn’t going the way that you planned….and He will take you to the nations, and present you to the world!
But you have to get it in your heart now, that it isn’t about you. And it isn’t about the person who said no. It isn’t about the guy or girl who rejected you. It isn’t about the callback that you never got. It isn’t about your church, or your friends, or your family. Forgive them, release them, and move on. Because it is about one thing, and one thing only. It is about the kingdom of God and bringing glory to Him. If you are humble, and willing, He will use you no matter who says no. He will open doors for you that no man can shut. And He will exalt you above the heads of every single hater you have ever had.
I didn’t permanently walk away from God. After a few weeks, I shook the dust off of my feet, forgave that pastor, and allowed God to heal all of the brokenness that came as a result. He used the entire situation to teach me to trust His voice even if no one else is listening. And He confirmed for me many times over, that in that situation, and numerous others, I had in fact heard His voice, very clearly. (I think about that often, when I driving the car that He gave me…you know, the one the haters said that I was crazy to believe Him for.) I’m very grateful for those lessons. And though I went through an incredible amount of pain and heartbreak that I didn’t have to, God brought beauty from those ashes. He always does, if we let Him.
I’m gonna stop, because some of you are reading this with a sense of conviction. Maybe you’ve said things to discourage someone, like that pastor did to me. Or maybe you let peer pressure convince you to reject or overlook someone that you know God was pointing out to you. Maybe you’re a leader, and your actions caused someone who looked up to you, to stumble. You’re feeling convicted, because you ARE responsible for the pain that your disobedience caused. But it doesn’t have to end there. Forgiveness is available. Put your pride down and make it right. Ask for forgiveness. Start building others up instead. Start listening to God, instead of others, or greed, or fear. It’s not too late to make a new start, but it starts with you.
Others of you are reading this from a place of discouragement, because someone shot you, your gifts, or your dream, down. I’ve definitely been there, and I want to encourage you with this…that dream that you feel like died…God is about to raise it to life! Know your Father’s voice so well, that His whisper will always be louder in your spirit, than the screams of all the haters and doubters, and naysayers. The only way you can know His voice is to spend time with Him. Get in His presence, seek His face, His approval…no one else’s. Know who you are, and Whose you are. You aren’t a slave to fear. You aren’t worthless. You aren’t a nobody. You aren’t useless. You aren’t forgotten. You are not invisible. You are not your heritage. You are not your dysfunctional family tree. You are not a failure. You are a Child of God. You are brave, you are valuable, you are called by name! He sees you, He’s adopted you, and He bought your dream, your life, your freedom, your destiny, and your victory, with the Blood of Jesus! Let God show you the steps to take. Get rid of the box that you limited Him to. Let Him do the reviving, and I promise you that He will take you to heights you could never even dream up! Dream big! Don’t give up! And don’t look back! Your destiny is waiting on you!