Discovering My Call (Part 5)
Updated: Jan 2
We've been looking at questions that may help us to clarify our place in the expansion of the Kingdom of God through the ministry of Christ.
Here's a few follow questions:
What is your experience of the thing while your doing it?
People's experiences vary, but a person who is doing something out of his or her anointing will experience a certain clarity in their thoughts while doing the thing God has called them to do. Regardless of the anxiety, nervousness, and doubts that come before the doing of the thing, when they hop into the saddle, things get clear. They breathe. They get confidence. They acquire an innate disposition of what needs to be said, done, and how to do it which is as the words on this page. Sometimes they will often be surprised at the things they say, or do, that they were in no way planning. And they have the backing from heaven to pull it off.
That part - having the backing of heaven to pull it off - is an essential piece - so essential that I'm actually going to make it our third follow-up question:
Do you sense the backing of heaven when you're doing the thing that you're doing?
Another way of asking that is simply, "Is it fruitful?" Is it just you going through the motions, toiling through the night with no fish, or is God really blessing it and/or the ramifications the activity?
A person can be skilled at doing just about anything from selling insurance to healing, but if the thing isn't fruitful they need to get out of it. Plain and simple. Fruitfulness is God's affirmation that you are planted in his will, impacting others and growing in the gifts he has given you. Take a good hard look and ask yourself if what you are doing is fruitful.
When I say "fruitful" I'm not talking about the fruit of the Spirit. Here's what kingdom fruitfulness looks like:
People getting on board, attracted to what you're saying, keenly interested in the thing you're doing
People getting blessed, light coming to their eyes, "aha" moments
People multiplying, growing, expanding in interest and numbers
People eager to get with you to enjoy whatever it is you're doing
People inviting others into the thing
People sacrificailly giving and investing time and money into the thing
Yep. You got it. It's all about people.
I remember the first few times I picked up the guitar in public. (I still pity those poor souls, subjected to my howling bluegrass melodies and fret-twanging the same three-chorded praise choruses over and over again...) All the same, after each time I led praise and worship, I was absolutely blown away with people encouraging me afterwards. They saw it more in me than me. These weren't mere curtesy compliments, either. They were watering a seed that I had no understanding of at the time. God was using them to water my anointing. Before long people were following me around. They'd show up where I was playing. They even invited others. One of them even bought me a guitar.
Sure, I didn't get it right every time. In fact, I still don't get it right. I discombobulate words and loose my place in just about every set I do. Yet the anointing sticks. Somewhere along the line I began to invest in God's investment of me. I went to a few song-writing conferences on the West Coast, I picked up a lesson here and invested in the craft. I bought guitars, effects pedals, music software, all in effort to balance my skill with his anointing, regardless of how difficult the circumstances or costly the investment. It was more than a hobby.
I recognized it and took responsibility to walk in it the best I could, echoing the heart of the psalmist when he wrote,"Sing unto him a new song; play skillfully with a loud noise." (Ps. 33:3)
Fruitfulness happens in spite of me, even when I'm "off."
Once while leading worship at a Rt. Rev. David Pytches conference in El Paso, Texas, we had just got on stage and I had come to the microphone to pray when someone else's voice came flooding into the sanctuary. (This was in the early days of remote microphones and our frequency happened to be the same frequency of a plumber who was on the line with his boss, at his wits' end because he couldn't find the address of wherever it was he was trying to get to.) There he was spewing and swearing and cussing enough to strip bark off a birch tree - and all that at maximum volume. I had rarely heard such cussing in my pre-Cristian life as I was hearing here - and this in the midst of a healing conference!
I froze. Everybody looked at me. And stared back to the 200 people like a deer in headlights.
A burst of righteous anger arose from my gut. It bubbled up into pretty powerful prayer where I took the devil by the horns and pronounced that we were there to worship God and nothing would keep us away from his holiness. Amen! With that I launched into the first song of the day, a song of victory, and the blasphemous words of the lost plumber were eclipse by the sweet praises of Jesus there in the sanctuary.
Halfway through the second song, however, it began to sink in. I began to more fully consider what had just happened. The devil was punching back and I began to loose it. Moving through the third and fourth songs I began to waver at the storm's confrontation, the wind and the waves and began to sink in my leadership. As the set progressed, I felt like I was drowning in my own self-talk and self-condemnation - for what, I didn't know - but it was terrible. For the rest of the 30 minutes of music I was doing nothing more than going through the motions. I couldn't wait to get off stage and bury my head in a tunnel.
I got off the stage as fast I could, making eye contact with no one and bee-lining it to the coffee pot at the back of the room. I didn't know why I was dying on the inside (Satan often works like that). I just knew that that had been the hardest worship set I had ever led and wanted to forget it ever happened, thank you very much.
And that's when it happened. As I was pouring powered creamer into my styrofoam cup of lukewarm watered-down coffee somebody tapped me on the shoulder. It was an old man wearing a John Deere baseball cap.
"May I help you," I asked sarcastically.
After fumbling through a few formalities he got to the point. "That was the most powerful worship I have ever experienced, young fellah," he said wth a twinkle in his his eye.
It took me by surprise. "It was?"
"In fact," he added. "When you were up there there was an angel right behind you guys. He was about 20 foot high and was arching over you. Did you see it?"angel up there with you?"
"There was? No, sir, I didn't."
"Sure there was. It was behind you guys, leaning over you and covering ya'll with his wings. So thank you, young man." He squeezed my shoulder lovingly and limped back to his seat.
Even knowing that (I even if it had been true), I remained relatively unimpressed. I found a seat , plopped down, and grew numb for the next 40 minutes of teaching and ministry. At the break, I was back at the coffee pot when a woman approached me. She, too was smiling. She pulled me aside and - independently of the guy with the John Deere cap - told me that she had seen an angel behind us during that worship set, wings outstretched and everything, when we were up there leading worship.
All of that is a long way of saying this: when you are operating in the sweet spot of God, you will contineu to be fruitful even if you're not particulalry feeling the love. If you operating in your call you can be assured your unfaithfulness will be eclipsed by God's faithfulness, no matter what.
Here's another question:
Are you encouraged and feeling good about whatever it is you're doing even if you're not currently seeing fruit?
That's a tricky one. Let me unpack that a bit.
There's a story about the late great John Wimber here. I may have the facts a bit skewed but the spirit of it is true. There he was in a measly hotel room somewhere in the mid-west, completely drained, completely frustrated with the ministry, on his knees crying out to the Lord when he heard the Lord say, "John, I've seen your ministry. Now I want to show you mine."
He got back to his church and told his board of elders that he wanted to pray for healing the sick after every service from then on out. That was all well after the first three months or so but the elders soon began questioning John as to what they were doing because, to that time, no one had yet been healed and people were a a bit uneasy about it all. Still, John had that fire in his heart, that confidence and expectation to persevere. Nine months later it came. The Holy Spirit poured out across the church and it took. Today, some 30 years later, the Vineyard model of healing has provided accessibility between God and his people second to none.
So ask yourself: Does the fire of my passion still burn strong in rain? When nothing is happening do I still have that internal desire to keep it going until something breaks through - even in the face of skepticism?