Journey Toward A Destination Unknown

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A difficult part of following Christ is that we do not know the path upon which His plan will take us. Most frequently we get only one step at a time revealed to us. Then, all is quiet until we take that step. Lacking trust we say, “I just want to know how this will turn out. I want to know the way”.

None of us know the path our life will take, least of all a follower of Jesus Christ. There in lies the intrigue, the anguish, and the excitement of a walk of faith.

I can’t help but think, “if we were closer to the Lord we would more clearly see our future”. He is after all the author and finisher of our faith. We know He could see His path, He who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross (Hebrews 12:2).

Not so with us. Not so with Jacob. Jacob is known as the father of the 12 tribes of Israel but his early life would not indicate this final, victorious outcome. Consider his life. Jacob ran away from his home, friends, and family. He left the country and was pursued by his brother Esau. He was taken in by a nomadic family then tricked by its patriarch into serving seven years labor for a wife whose hand he did not ask for. In the middle of those desert years did Jacob know this path would lead him to the intended victorious end? It is unlikely. Rather, it is likely he thought he would be a refugee for the rest of his life.

But, the end of His life was different than he expected. He returned home with family and wealth surrounding him. He would be the patriarch of the 12 tribes of Israel, not Esau the elder brother who remained at home. And though he would migrate to Egypt to escape famine (saved by the Lord moving through his son Joseph), he would die with his amazing, growing family around him. His family would become a nation, Israel. It was a great end that neither he nor his family could have known in the middle of his life.

Such is the limitation of a walk of faith. We cannot see where our faith in the Lord is taking us. But our end will be great. If your life is not what you hope for today know that as you continue to follow Jesus he will bring you to a great place and purpose.

If you are standing in faith today but do not know the path to your end it is ok, neither did Jacob. If you do not know where you may live, earn a living, serve the Lord, or minister to others in the future, but instead are heading in the general direction Christ has laid out for you, it is ok. You are on journey to a destination unknown. If you place your faith in Him He will order your steps:

The steps of a good man are ordered by The Lord and He delights in His steps (Psalm 37:23)

Steps of obedience are what He asked of us, not plans. But when we look far in the future and plan our way we begin to trouble ourselves. Perhaps by planning we cross a line returning to life lived as before we knew Him. Perhaps excessive planning is evidence we are trying to become our own God, the master of our own life, rather than serving the Master with our life. Consider these two verses:

There is a way that seems right to a man but its end is the way of death (Proverbs 14:12).

The Lord brings the counsel of nations to nothing. He makes the plans of the people of no effect (Psalm 33:10).

The scriptures teach us that our steps are for obedience and plans are the Lords.

He doesn’t reveal too much to us, or does He? If we ask the Lord His plan, it may be different. The Lord gave overwhelming detail of His plans to David to build the sanctuary. The design he downloaded to David included dimensions, material list, design patterns, everything right down to the gold forks and basins. In 1 Chronicles 28:19 David said to Solomon,

“All this The Lord made me understand, in writing, all the works of these plans.”

He also reveled to David that Solomon would build the temple, not David. That was not David’s plan!

It brings us back to a fundamental truth. We are to pursue not our plans, but His, step by step. We are not to confuse His plan by trying to insert our plan into it.

Not everything has gone according to plan in my life. I am certain of that. I’ve missed many steps. But along the journey I feel the Lord patiently pulling me back onto His plan. It’s a plan toward a destination unknown to me. A funny thing has happened along the way. As I have followed Him I have been able to be a part of a small story in His Plan. Melanie and I felt directed to go to Florida to open a business office five years ago. While in Florida we were given an opportunity to be apart of His plan to launch a new campus church. It was an opportunity that came to us in one day without any plan on my part. It is a reminder to me that our life is to be about taking steps of obedience to follow His plan, not ours.

Why Grace in the Marketplace?

Forever 21 prints John 3:16 on the bottom of every shopping bag (photo credit Los Angeles Times).

Forever 21 is a clothing store that was founded by Don and Jin Chang, Christians who moved to America from Korea in 1981. The small store they opened in Los Angeles in 1984 has grown into a mass business consisting of hundreds of locations across the globe.  They are lights for Jesus Christ in the marketplace.  On the bottom of each bag, shoppers will find “John 3:16,” the popular Bible verse that reads, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”  This is one example of marketplace grace.  What is your example?

I wanted to write this blog to show how simple it is to follow the Lord in business.  More than a blog about leading  I wanted to offer examples about being  a follower of Christ in business.   I wanted to encourage you to be fully the Lord’s disciple in your own personal marketplace whatever your position and whatever your profession.  It’s where you are now that needs His Grace.

How do you do that?  By bringing the Spirit to the workplace as well as your soul and body.

The problem with the current business environment is that there is very little spiritual aspect to it.  There seems to be little difference in the workplace between people who know the Lord and those who do not.  The unspiritual personal behavior makes up unspiritual organizational behavior. Business vision, purpose, and strategy are articulated in secular terms.  Very few business leaders articulate business operations with a worldview that has been shaped by knowing Christ.  This leads to a “dumbed down” version of what the marketplace could be.     Christians sit silent in meetings when the Holy Spirit desires to speak through them.  As a result, our meetings can become discussions of numbers only.  We chart the progress of our organizations but the purpose of our organization remains unknown. It is all empty when compared with a business that seeks to fulfill and articulate a God ordained purpose.

The premise is that a God who changes people for the good can also change businesses for the good. If indeed the  Lord has transformed you into a “child of the Light”, then as He leads you in business, you will create products and businesses of the Light.

The solution is for you to be a child of Light wherever you are called.  I propose that you place your work into the Lord’s hands and ask Him to lead you in every part of it. The Lord has entrusted you with a position of economic influence, whether you are the CEO of an entire company or simply the CEO of your own desk.  He waits on you to give your work back to Him so that He can write a supernatural story through your life.

The benefits of allowing The Lord to lead you in the workplace are firstly, the Lord’s.  The purpose of all that we do is to bring glory to God.  The Lord will shape whatever you give him for His good purpose.  He will shape your story into His story and the success that follows will be beyond what you can hope or think.  It will be much greater than you could have accomplished without Him.

The benefit to you is that you will be fulfilled in your work as you do it for the Lord.  Our life becomes so much larger as the traditionally “secular” environments of your life give way to the Spirit and become part of your spiritual walk.  It will make your natural  and mundane 8 to 5 workday become supernatural in purpose and joy!  The greatest moments of my work life have been when I have worked hand in hand with The Lord.  So many of my testimonies of His power and grace come from the workplace.  He is waiting for that relationship with you as well.  My hope is that this blog encourages a new resolve in you to follow Christ into your marketplace.

So, follow in the footsteps of many other successful entrepreneurs and follow Christ into the marketplace.  See what God can do through you!

Knowing Your Way When the Path is Hidden

We can be directed toward our destiny even when the path is hidden from us

I was sitting at my desk on the 5th Floor of the Duluth Technology Village.  My boss of seven years was just let go.  Revenues were down 50% in the last 3 years.  Just two staff remained.  We were down to one client.  Then, I was then given the leadership position.  How could we turn the business around and stop the sinking ship?

New Opportunity

I was given an opportunity that day I was placed into leadership.  I had a vision to anchor the office with three major clients. But what steps were needed to make the vision a reality? That first day I sat at my desk and prayed.  “Lord, if you will help me build this office then I will tell others that you were the one who made it grow”.

New Collaboration

I have learned that some of the best opportunities in business are not anticipated.  Most  business plans I have seen are compilations of rigid secular strategies.  We need to write a vision and business plan.  However, growing a team and winning clients will always be more than the sum of your knowledge.  It will always involve more than you can see when you write the business plan.  Where then do you turn for direction?

The answer to my prayer came to me within the next few weeks.  I would be at my desk working and would hear, “David, I want you to go to the EPA Seminar”.  There was a seminar in town in a few weeks.  I wanted to go but had thought I was too busy to go.  A second and third time I heard it again.  Finally, I said out loud, “Ok, I will go”.  Just then I realized I was getting the direction I had prayed for.

New Success

In moments when the path has been hidden I have asked the Lord to lead me.  He has answered by giving me direction in the form of one step, one task to do in a specific direction.  After that step he gives another, and success is at the end of that path.  In these moments I pray Proverbs 3:5-6, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding, and He shall direct your paths“.

I sat down at an open chair at the seminar and struck up a conversation with the person next to me.  We immediately connected.  He was genuine and real. I followed up that initial meeting with a call and within a month or so we received our first project from him.

That first project win would be the start of many.  He was a Regional Environmental Manager of a large Natural Gas Distribution Company.  Within 3 years over $1 Million in project work would be won by our small firm from this man to whom the Lord led me.

Today I would like to encourage  you to ask the Lord to lead you in business.  Trust Him and He will direct your path. What paths in business are hidden from you?  If you are a person of faith, how has your faith helped to define direction in your business?

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