Read… this…. quote… slowly…
If someone prayers for patience, do you think God gives them patience or does He give them the opportunity to be patient? If someone prays for courage, does He give them courage or does He give them opportunities to be courageous? If someone prays for their family to be closer, do you think God zaps them with warm, fuzzy feelings, or does He give them opportunities to love each other?
That quote is from the movie Evan Almighty. Where God (played by Morgan Freeman) commissions Evan Baxter (played by Steve Carell) to become a modern-day Noah and build an ark in Virginia.
Even though that is a quote from a movie and not a passage from Scripture, it contains truth and it led me to reflect. About how I typically pray and how God typically chooses to answer prayers. God doesn’t usually “zap” me or change my circumstances but instead He orchestrates opportunities for me to grow in those areas.
And I bet God does the same thing in your life.
But that movie clip is only part 1 of this blog. The same day I came across that clip, I was reading The 8th Habit by Stephen Covey. Here’s a quote:
It has generally been my experience that the very top people of truly great organizations are servant-leaders. They are the most humble, the most reverent, the most open, the most teachable, the most respectful, the most caring.
He continues this thought by calling this type of leader a “Level 5 Leader” and says that this level of leadership is quite rare. Yet, in order for an organization or church to become truly “great” (and not just “good”) a Level 5 Leader must be at the helm.
Sidenote: What Stephen Covey wrote in 2004 is what Jesus said 2,000 years earlier: “Whoever wants to be great must become a servant… That is what the Son of Man has done: He came to serve, not to be served… (Mark 10:43, 45).
That word picture painted by Stephen Covey compelled me to get out my journal and write this prayer: “God, make me a Level 5 Leader.” I want to be the best leader I can be as the lead pastor of The Eastside Vineyard so that our church can impact our corner of the world as much as possible with God’s love and Good News.
“God, make me a Level 5 Leader.” A good prayer, don’t you think?
And then it hit me.
That still, small voice of God reminded me of the movie clip from Evan Almighty I just watched a few hours earlier that day. And I realized my prayer was incomplete. I was asking God to make me a Level 5 Leader. For Him to “zap” me into being one. But that’s not how God works most of the time.
So I added to my journal entry: “God, make me a Level 5 Leader… and bring experiences along my path that will shape me into one.”
As I wrote those words in my journal I felt like God took me on a trip down memory lane. To the “trials and tribulations” I have experienced over the past three years that are simply part of what it means to be a pastor. God reframed these circumstances and events for me, inviting me to stop seeing them as negative but to begin seeing them as opportunities to shape me into the leader He wants me to be.
As I read that last paragraph, words don’t do justice to what I was experiencing during those Spirit-led moments that afternoon.
So that’s my story. What about yours? What *incomplete* prayers have you been praying as of late: “God give me ______.” “God make me ______.” And what do you need to add to those prayers to complete them?
And consider this. God may already be answering those prayers, not by “zapping” you or changing your circumstances but by bringing opportunities across your path for you to grow in those areas so that you become more like Jesus in your thoughts, words, and actions. After all that’s one of God’s primary goals for His children: “For those God foreknew He also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son…” (Romans 8:29).
Think about it.
***We are launching a new series starting this Sunday: “God’s Will for Healing.” Over the next several weeks we’ll be pressing into tough questions like these: What is God’s will when it comes to sickness? What role does faith play in healing? Why isn’t everybody healed? Everything kicks off this Sunday with a sermon titled “Thy Kingdom Come, Thy Will Be Done.” 10:30am. March 2nd. More info at tevchurch.org***