By Michael Talley
Church 8025, Thornton, CO
Our journey to plant in the Denver Metro area has not looked anything like we imagined. I often joke that God wants our ‘yes’ and we try to give him our ‘yes’ AND our plan, or least I try to. But the story of my life has seemed to be that God takes my ‘yes’ and gently, patiently guides me to his plans. And it does take patience and gentleness, at least for me because I have noticed a couple things about God’s plan in my life so far.
1) He only shows me the next step:
“The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.” —Proverbs 16:9
My nature would love to have the full plan from beginning to end. Maybe you are like me and want to know the end so you can better plan the road to get there. But God continually shows me a step at a time. Maybe that is because my faith is not strong enough to know the challenges ahead, maybe it is because I’m hardheaded enough to try and plan out each step along the way and then only be willing to take the steps I have planned, or maybe it is a combination of both. Either way, in this journey to be obedient to what God is calling us to do we often only see the next step, one step at a time. And as difficult as that may be at times, we can and should embrace it because as James tells us, the testing of our faith produces perseverance, and in pastoring one of our greatest needs is perseverance.
The second thing I have come to see in God’s plan for my life is…
2) He keeps me places for a season:
My experience is that God has shown me a next step and then kept me in a place for a season. I’m not saying that God wants us to move locations or switch jobs all the time, I’m simply saying that each step of obedience we take is for a season. During that season God teaches us, he shapes us, he does something in us that is only for a season and then he shows us the next step, which brings about the next season. Often that next step and season is in the same place, but God begins to teach us something new.
With church planting and in our current state of affairs I have found this especially true. There are seasons of celebration and seasons of frustration. Seasons of significant decision making and season of transition. But each of those seasons only last for a while and each season seems to prepare us for the next season. Our faithfulness to God and to his calling in the middle of both the encouraging and difficult seasons is what matters. So, it doesn’t matter if you are a planter, revitalizer, pastoring a 10-year-old church or a 100-year-old church, you should embrace the season you are in and know that God is using it to make you a better leader. All of this to say that what I have most discovered in following God’s plan, no matter how little he may reveal to us, or how long the season lasts, he is more interested in who we are than what we do. And maybe that best explains why we only see one step at a time and each step lasts for a season. Because with each new step and new season God is doing something new in us. He is making us to be more like him and when we have listened and grown, he moves us on to the next step and the next season because God is never done working in our lives.