Accept the Assignment
Over the last several weeks we’ve talked about preparing our hearts to hear from God. Specifically, listening for His calling in our daily lives.
The first step is to Obey Without Delay: do that thing or those things we know He has already placed on our hearts. If you are avoiding obedience why should He give you new instructions? The next item of business is taking Steps to Surrender: surrendering our plans so that God can exchange them for His. The third piece is Surrendering Expectations: surrendering our own expectations and instead expecting God to be true to who He says He is.
Figuratively holding our hands out to God with our plans and expectations has set the stage for what needs to happen next if you want to follow God’s instructions for your life. You must accept your assignment! What is the point of confidently asking God for directions if you are unwilling to follow them?
Imagine you decide to volunteer at a charity dinner. You walk in and ask the coordinator what you can do to help. He tells you to start putting napkins at each place setting. You look around at all the other people working in the room and tell the coordinator, “No I think I just want to put the plates out instead”. “Someone else is doing the plates,” the coordinator responds, “Please do the napkins.” You don’t want to, so you just stand there watching everyone else work. Eventually you leave.
How ridiculous is that scenario!?!? None of us would act that way (hopefully). And yet, when it comes to doing what God has called me to do, there are times I act just like that! (I say “I” and not “we” because I’m sure you never struggle with this…) But I look at other people and wish I had their assignment. Or maybe I look at my assignment and then back at my personal agenda and decide I just don’t want to take the time. Or maybe I’m just too tired today. Or maybe I’m feeling insecure about myself. Or maybe I will pretend I just didn’t hear the assignment and I’ll try to do something else that I deem “helpful” instead.
Just set out the napkins!
The coordinator isn’t going to upgrade you to a different job of your choosing because you refuse to do what he asked! So why do we approach God that way? If He tells you to work on something—do it! If He tells you to talk to someone you don’t want to talk to—do it! If He tells you to forgive someone—do it! If He tells you to trust Him with your finances—do it! If He tells you to take a leap of faith at a new job—do it! If He tells you to be generous with what you’ve been given—do it!
I find that there are four main stumbling blocks or excuses that sometimes prevent me from acting upon what I’ve been told to do:
- Comparing my assignment to someone else’s. I see it in my kids all the time, one brother will try to trade chores with another or they get into these crazy negotiations—each trying to only do the jobs they desire and give away the jobs they don’t. So much time and energy is wasted this way! Progress is made so much more quickly when we buckle down and move forward with what we’ve been told to do instead of looking around at what everyone else is doing. Take off the “grass is greener” glasses you may be wearing and acknowledge that God has created you with unique purpose, skill, and influence. He isn’t surprised at where you are in life and who you are surrounded by. He has been preparing you for YOUR assignments, not someone else’s. Just like our pretend charity dinner coordinator, God knows the big picture and understands how each person’s individual assignments come together to bring His greater plan to fruition.
- Suggesting I don’t have what I need. If God has convicted me to do something, then I have all I need. Sometimes our resources seem so sparse and our task seems so depleting. There are legitimate limits to our time, energy, money, etc. However, God has none of these limits and He already knows what we have. If we are telling God we can’t move forward with our calling because we don’t have what we need, then that’s like telling Him that He isn’t enough. Remember the story of the widow with the oil in 2 Kings? She had to start acting out in faith before she saw God’s provision. Likewise, we need to obey first and then we will find that God has already accounted for our needs.
- Letting my insecurities get in the way. Sometimes instead of “I don’t have enough” we tell ourselves “I’m not good enough.” And you know what? You probably aren’t good enough. You aren’t strong enough, you aren’t smart enough, you aren’t talented enough. You aren’t enough. When I look at my natural tendencies and compare them to my callings, I’m definitely not enough! However, if we are truly trying to live our lives for God’s glory then it makes sense that He would use us in spite of our weaknesses. Otherwise everything we do would be for our own glory. My little secret for when I feel inadequate is to openly acknowledge this to God and others. I shed light on my insecurities and say “if any good comes from my obedience it is due to God’s grace and power in my life. To Him be the glory!” It’s amazing how just admitting this makes the insecurity lose its power over me and I can move forward because my confidence is in the Lord’s ability, not my own.
- Doing “good” instead of doing “right.” This is something that drives me crazy as a mom and wife. I’ve asked someone to do something, and then they go and do something else. What they have chosen to do isn’t bad, but it’s not what I asked them to do. This happens often when my husband and I are working on a house project together—maybe cleaning out the garage or something. I ask him to move something heavy for me, but instead he continues to clean or dig through other boxes. He stays productive, at least in his opinion, but I am at a standstill because I need this heavy thing moved so I can continue with my plans. I do this with God too. He asks me to do something, but maybe I don’t really want to, so instead I look for other “good” things to do. If I keep myself busy serving others, but not addressing what God has called me to do, then I’m being disobedient. From an outside perspective it may look like I’m “doing the Lord’s work,” but I’ve actually halted progress on what God is trying to accomplish in my life.
Once you get in the habit of identifying and working through these excuses, then you will notice it becomes easier and easier to move forward in faithful obedience. With every step you take, God is accomplishing His purposes for your life. Don’t wait around for a glorious assignment, or one you think is worthy of your time. Seek to glorify Him alone, by proving He is worthy of your time. If God tells you to set out the napkins—then set out the napkins!
1 Corinthians 12:27-31 “Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. 28 And God has placed in the church first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, of helping, of guidance, and of different kinds of tongues. 29 Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? 30 Do all have gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues[d]? Do all interpret? 31 Now eagerly desire the greater gifts.”
2 Kings 4:1-7: story of Elisha and the Widow’s Oil
2 Corinthians 12:9-10 “But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
Ephesians 3:16 “I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being”
2 Peter 1:3 “His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.”
147:7-11 “Sing to the Lord with grateful praise;
make music to our God on the harp.
He covers the sky with clouds;
he supplies the earth with rain
and makes grass grow on the hills.
He provides food for the cattle
and for the young ravens when they call.
His pleasure is not in the strength of the horse,
nor his delight in the legs of the warrior;
the Lord delights in those who fear him,
who put their hope in his unfailing love.”
1 Samuel 15: The story of men making sacrifices to God from the plunder of war, even though God had told them to destroy everything. On the surface they were doing something “good”, but it was still disobedience.
Matthew 6:25-34 ““Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?
“And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”