Leaders have visions. Christians have visions. Ideas and dreams that we believe God has given us to fulfill. This can be new lands to conquer or simply new lands in which we find ourselves. There are no familiar landmarks in new lands. And there is probably peculiar terrain, stark difficulties and enemies.
We are called to these new lands to occupy and conquer. But more importantly to serve and follow our God. The Unseen One is worthy of our devotion regardless of the terrain and the circumstances in which we find ourselves. However, we often choose to hang our harps on the trees and not sing of His goodness. Or we become so enamored with the vision that we serve the vision.
In Numbers chapter 13, God told Moses to send 12 spies into the land of Canaan, which He was giving to the children of Israel. So Moses chose 12 leaders, one from each tribe.
Moses obeyed. Twelve leaders followed the vision to explore a new land for the taking. They saw and experienced the abundance and at the end of the 40 days of exploration they returned. They even brought back evidence of the rich land that was flowing with milk and honey. 10 of the leaders’ reports focused on the obstacles and the giants that made them feel like grasshoppers. Caleb and Joshua’s reports focused on their God. “….The Lord is with us. Do not be afraid of them.” Numbers 14:9b
This chapter and the verse, Numbers 14:24 “…my Servant Caleb has a different spirit and follows me whole-heartedly”, came to life when we were asked to speak at a Christian Conference. The day of our arrival we were waiting to hear of a health diagnosis for one of our four children. In our room, I glanced out of the window. Several black, harsh looking electric lines dominated my view. I was weeping before The Lord about the equally ugly circumstances surrounding our child, who was way too young for such a diagnosis. The scene out of the window matched the mood of my heart, all I could see was ugly.
Later in the day, we heard another speaker expounding on Numbers 13. I returned to the same room with the same view. But this time I looked below the black wires and I also saw a serene setting; a park bench surrounded by fresh green grass and new spring flowers. This was the challenge in the new land. Not to deny strong, looming giants but to see the goodness and beauty of my God. I needed to be reminded of His presence as well. To be His servant and to follow my God in the midst of the giants, with a different spirit. I have held onto this verse for over 5 years in this new land. The giants are real but so is my God.
“…my Servant Caleb has a different spirit and follows me whole-heartedly.” Numbers 14:24
I have brought this vision of how to follow God with a different spirit into ministry. As leaders, the desire to see a vision succeed can obscure our loyalty to Our God. We begin to serve the vision. We no longer wholeheartedly follow God in the midst of the vision. We begin to follow the vision, no matter the cost in order to make it successful. Or we cringe and serve the daunting giants that also occupy the land. We find ourselves making sacrifices and difficult decisions for the giants, not for our God. We begin to serve ministry more than we serve our Jesus, leading with a misplaced loyalty.
As leaders, we have all been there. What vision has never come without obstacles or an overwhelming desire to succeed? Or as parents, how often has my child’s health or happiness become the object of my faith?
I, and I am sure you, want to occupy this land of home and ministry with a servant’s heart, following our God wholeheartedly.
I continue to learn many, many new and hard things in these new lands. One lesson that has stayed with me . . . there is a difference between wanting and trying. “I want to play the guitar” versus “I am trying to play the guitar.”
For me to serve my God wholeheartedly, I often have to sit at His feet in the quiet and ask Him to reveal with what spirit am I following Him? Am I following my God with a spirit of fear and pride or one of servanthood to Jesus? I’ve found that a different spirit comes AFTER I take the tiniest, yet wholehearted step of obedience.
Anyone can have a vision. With what spirit are you leading and occupying the land?