In April I posted the above picture in my post Make Plans, Allow the Lord to Direct! I encourage you to go and read that post especially if you are in a place where your plans don't seem to be working out the way you thought they would. Lately I've been thinking a bit more about this scripture and I wanted to share with you some of those thoughts.
In my previous post I shared how God wants to direct us in each decision whether big or small but how I feel that this verse specifically refers to our overall life plans. Often we have a plan for our life that we are pushing for and striving for starting when we are teenagers (or sometimes even as children). Our society pushes us to make at least somewhat of a decision of what we want to do with our lives before we leave high school. This is when we are supposed to decide what college we want to go to, what major we want to pursue, or what job we are going to go after. Of course this is a very early time to make those decisions and many end up changing them throughout their life.
A lot of these decisions are made based simply on our interests or even what subjects we happen to be good at in school. However there are some people who were seeking God at a young age and feel like they actually had a Word from God directing them on what path to take. This is where I have been.
When I was 12 God told me I was to be a preacher, teacher, and a writer.
Naturally when I received this Word I interpreted it to mean full-time Christian ministry. I've sought God on how this ministry would play out. I felt led to go to World Harvest Bible College (now Valor Christian College) in Columbus, OH and spent my college years focused on volunteering rather than working. I then spent a year working for an Adult Foster Care Home but thinking my main focus in that time was my volunteering as an assistant youth pastor, my two mission trips, and my preparation to go to Youth With A Mission. Then I spent four years full time on the mission field and everything seemed to be on track for my dream to be in full-time ministry.
After I spent four years on the mission field my wife and I felt it was time to move back to the U.S. and I felt like I was supposed to pursue a job as a youth pastor with a local church. I found a part-time youth pastor position with Connection Church, got a job in mental health (based off of my previous position in the AFH) and continued with the plan to work my way to full-time ministry. Five years later and I find myself still working in mental health and still not in full-time ministry. For the last five years I constantly have talked about wanting to find an opportunity to work in my "passion" and in my "true calling". It took me five years to recognize that maybe God opened up this door in mental health not simply as a way to pay my bills until I found my "true calling" but because maybe metal health is my "true calling".
Does this mean I got it wrong when I was 12?
Not at all. That Word that I received is, to this day, one of the most clear words I have ever heard from God. I am to be a preacher, a teacher, and a writer. It may meant that I misinterpreted what it meant but the Word was and is true to my calling.
Does this mean that I need to give up my aspirations towards full-time ministry?
Not necessarily. We never know what God has in store in the future. It could be that God will still open up a door for me and my family to step into pastoring or full time mission work again. All of this is possible. Or it may be that God is planning on partnering my passion for ministry with my new found passion for mental health. Or it may be that He has called me to balance the two, to be a bi-vocational minister, for the long term.
What this means is that I need to recognize that God has placed me where I am because He wants me where I am. It may be a stepping stone to something in the future but it is more than that. If God is directing my steps then He directed me to this point and He has directed me to work in mental health for the last five years, and He wants to use me in my current position.
This is what God has been speaking to me about, hopefully it speaks to you too!