Friday, August 9, 2013

“You Don’t Get to Call the Shots” by Garris Elkins

I had a dream.  It was a dream so vivid I actually thought it was real.

In the dream I was in the lobby of a large church sitting at one of the coffee tables.  The room was crowded.  The pastor of this large and influential ministry walked through the crowd towards my table and sat down.  He began to offer me a job.  He lined out the duties and the salary.  I thanked him and said I wouldn’t be able to accept his offer.  In my heart I knew I did not care to live in the state where his ministry was located and I actually thought his pay offer was too low.  He got up from the table and walked away.

Later in the dream the pastor approached me once again and offered me the same job. As I was about to repeat my rejection, I awakened.

As I awoke the Lord spoke to me and said, “You are entering a time in your life where you do not get to decide where you will serve or what you will be paid.”

In the next few hours, I processed those words from the Lord and reviewed the last 32 years of life and ministry. Up to this point, Jan and I have never called the shots on where we would go or what we would be paid.  God always brought ministry to us. We have never pursued locations or salary.  While we have been far from perfect disciples, as a result of letting God call the shots, He has been able to use us in unique ways and locales that were uncluttered by our demands.

Part of the reason I think this dream took place is that the older I have become the more I realize I have developed the tendency to settle in and begin to call the shots. It can appear to a carnal mind as a right of passage, but it can actually kill the new thing wants to do in our lives. 

A subtle lie can creep into our thinking and remind us that, “You’ve paid your dues…now, kick back and enjoy the fruit of your labor.”  While this sounds really good and has an element of truth to it, it is also part of a lie that has infected some in my generation of Baby Boomers. We can too easily tie our lives and ministries to the boat dock of an impending retirement and never sail again. In the time of life when we actually have something to share we begin to abdicate our fathering presence and tie ourselves to a docked future in a “safe” harbor. 

This fall I have been asked to speak at a pastor’s conference on the subject of fathering a city. As I ponder this timely subject, I realize the first thing a father does for his children is to give them a sense of identity.  Before we can affirm the identity of our children, both natural and spiritual, we must affirm our own.  Identity is not based on a calendar.  Our identity is sourced from eternity where elapsed time and retirement is not part of the definition.

If you have lived a good life people will eventually come and ask, “How did you get to this good place in your life?”  At this point in my life I don’t want to give the answer, “I got here because I called the shots and made all of this happen.” That would truly be a nightmare.

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