How Not to Make Things Happen

A friend of mine has created models that show two common ways church leaders go about starting things (see chart below). The first model is the most common. It’s based on the assumption that we need to make something happen; therefore, the goal is to get results. The second model is less common. It’s based on the assumption that God wants to work in us as He works through us. The goal is the spiritual growth of the leader as the leader seeks to make a difference in the lives of others.

 While I expend most of my energy working from the first model, something about the second model appeals to me. It just seems like a better way. And on those occasions when I’ve lived out the second model, it has been a more enriching experience.

“Making it happen” leads to pressure because everything ultimately falls back on us. When we start with God and spiritual formation, freedom and joy result regardless of the outcomes because we have more confidence that what we are doing is God-inspired. Furthermore, we know God is doing something lasting inside of us, regardless of how things turn out.

The problem is...I love to move quickly. Like King Saul, I get impatient when I pray for God’s direction, and I don’t get an answer (1 Samuel 14:37). Sometimes I can quiet that impatience, but more often than not, it’s just easier to try to make something happen by assuming it’s God’s will, going into action, then shooting up a prayer for God to bless it. This approach is much easier than reflecting, repenting, and releasing.

Unfortunately, a majority of today’s leadership material favors a King Saul-type model of decision-making. Throw up a prayer, and if God is silent, just make something happen. But such a model got Saul into trouble, and it can get us into trouble as well. I’m not advocating passive leadership, but I am suggesting that most of us could use a little more reflection, a little more repentance, and a little more surrender as we seek to lead God’s people.

What about you? Where do you tend to live? And how does that affect your ministry and your spiritual growth?