At this point in my life, my ears are open to the questions of so many people – worship leaders, pastors, students, even my own children – all asking the same question: “What’s the stuff I’m supposed to be doing?”
Notice the implied expectation. We ought to be engaged in something. We were made for mission. We were created, according to the Apostle Paul, to do good works, which God prepared in advance for all of us. (Eph. 2:10) Our position “in Christ Jesus” is both an effect of grace through faith, and a platform from which to “do good works” as Paul mentions in Ephesians.
Recently I had the pleasure of witnessing one of my favorite authors, Bob Goff, speak at the Global Leadership Summit held at Willow Creek Community Church in South Barrington, Illinois. He wrote a very inspiring book called “Love Does” in 2012. I devoured the book while traveling to Haiti in August of that same year. Since that time, I gave away my copy, bought a new one, and have encouraged many of my friends to read it.
The essence of Bob Goff could be summed up with this phrase: “Love God, Love People, and Do Stuff.”
Bob’s untamed energy and “no fear” approach to life has inspired me to simply say “yes” more often. His book helped me recognize the ways God speaks and invites me into the larger story. Here’s a synopsis of the way my life has changed since August 2012:
- I said “yes” to the invitation to step out of the boat and pursue a vocation other than that of full-time worship pastor in a local church.
- I said “yes” to a deep desire to start working on a Master’s Degree in Spiritual Formation & Leadership from Spring Arbor University.
- I said “yes” to raising financial support in order to work with a Soul Care ministry called “Potter’s Inn.”
- I said “yes” to staying at my church longer than most outgoing staff members would ever be allowed to stay.
- I said “yes” to making my 20th wedding anniversary more special by initiating “The Amazing 20 Days of Love.”
- I said “yes” to staying in Colorado Springs and working from home so that I can be more physically, emotionally, and spiritually available to my children.
These are just a few of the things God brought to mind as I reflected on this past year. They are BIG things, to be sure. It will really be amazing to look back in a couple more years at the many additional ways God invited me into the “With-God Life” and the effects of saying “yes.”
Of all the things I could say “yes” to as I continue this journey of faith, the one I cannot afford to neglect is the daily invitation from Abba to spend time with him each day. Before I can go do the “stuff,” I must first be led by the “staff.”
In John 10, Jesus calls himself the “Good Shepherd.” In verse 4, Jesus says “the sheep follow him because they know his voice.” This word picture reminds us of Psalm 23.
The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures; he leads me beside still waters; he restores my soul. He leads me in right paths for his name sake. Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I fear no evil; for you are with me; your rod and your staff – they comfort me. (Verses 1-4 NRSV)
Perhaps we can no longer identify with the metaphor of Shepherd/Sheep in today’s modern society, but it is still a useful image if we are willing to pause long enough and tease it out for purposes of our own spiritual formation. Truth be told: the Good Shepherd really loves the sheep. He desires what is best for us. He knows what we need and when we need it. He knows when we should slow down, rest, and graze upon his goodness. He knows when we need to be led through the treacherous passages. He protects us and guides us with his rod and his staff. All this because he loves us and desires an interactive relationship with us.
The more we interact with God, the more intimate we will become in our knowing and being known. Truly, we are learning to identify the voice of our shepherd every time we open our Bible, engage in listening prayer, and reflect in silent meditation.
But it goes beyond knowing.
I love what Bob Goff said about our tendency to simply study the Bible for the sake of acquiring information. He said we are no more than “Jesus Stalkers” when we do that. Bob reminded us that we need to move from simply agreeing with Jesus to actually doing stuff.
Interaction with Jesus is intimate, ongoing conversation creating space for a deepening awareness of the things God is thinking and doing in his Kingdom. Missional service, the act of “doing stuff,” is the healthy overflow, or outpouring, of the compassion that the Spirit of God has developed within us. It is done without concern for self or allusion of outcome. After all, it wouldn’t be an adventure if we knew how it would all turn out, right?
What’s the right stuff to do? What were we made for? How do know when we are in the “wheelhouse” of our skill, passion, and calling? I don’t suspect there is an easy, cookie-cutter answer. If we commit to loving God, loving others, and doing stuff, we may discover that the destination will be made that much sweeter by the joy we develop on our lifelong journey with Jesus.