I hope this series “New Beginnings” has been an encouragement for you. Let’s be honest. January is a long month. We start out with the hope of a new year where everything sort of has a climatic point; even before we get going. But as the year moves on, we can get discouraged and complacent. We can fall right back into old patterns and habits and before we know it, we’ve really not started anything “new” at all. Just more of the same.
That’s why I don’t want to look at new beginnings as just a rah rah moment simply to pump us up. Yes we need some of that emotion because it influences heart change and head knowledge. But the fumes of that will only take us so far. Once the gas tank is completely empty, we start to stall out and find ourselves not much further down the road than where we left off.
So into this discussion, we come to a point of accountability. You and I need each other. We need people holding us up, praying for us, asking us tough questions, and challenging us. Yes! And we also need to avoid those who either hold us back or tap us out in this journey. There needs to be a balance of infilling and outpouring. If you have no one pouring into you, you will be burnt out very quickly.
Today’s last installment of New Beginnings asks the question “Who’s Going With You?” on this path you are embarking on. It says, find out who’s on your team, where is your tribe, and who can you trust. It’s a very key part of stepping out and we can’t afford not to take an inventory of our lives in this matter. Let’s go!
1. Pray for God to give you support
I always thank my God for you because of his grace given you in Christ Jesus. 1 Corinthians 1:4
One thing we often have a hard time understanding is our need to be vulnerable before God. We come into a place where we surrender to Him and that’s really where we start in our faith walk: acknowledging sin and our need for a Savior. But we start to drift away from the dependency on Him and others as we think “I’ve got this. I can do this on my own.” It’s hard to ask for help or even admit that we need it. But this is not a place of vulnerability, but rather one of strength.
I believe going into 2021, the body of Christ needs unify in a way that “iron sharpens iron” and we “spur one another to good works.” 2020 falsely brought the notion that “Lone Ranger Christianity” is ok. I don’t have to attend church. I can watch online. I can pull away from Bible studies. So on and so forth. But that mentality has caused us to withdraw from those who will support us and stand with us. Paul understood the importance of connecting within each city he went to and finding those who would pray for him. We must pray that the Lord would guide us to those voices in our lives as well.
2. Don’t waste mental/emotional/physical energy on those who don’t support you
I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them. Romans 16:17
As you start to go in the direction you feel God is calling you, opposition will often meet you right out of the gate. Sometimes it’s even from people you thought you could trust or depend upon. Why is that? It is painful to admit it, but there are some Christians who will “hate” on you simply because you are going after the call God has placed on your heart. It could be jealousy. Could be it exposes something in them they don’t want to admit. Could be you doing something convicts them and they don’t like it. It could be any number of things. But those voices will surely come and you must be ready for them.
Another thing you must recognize are those “one-sided only relationships.” Certainly some of ministry is like that and we give without wanting anything in return. But some are interested solely in what you can do for them. What you can offer them. If you are not constantly filling their tank and pouring into them, they will drop you like yesterday’s news. Guard relationships closely. Be careful who you open up to about what God is telling you and who you can trust. Some will want to think they are in your “inner circle” but really have no desire to pray for you, support you, or help you in any way along the journey. Discern relationships as best you can through the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
3. Become an encourager. Replicate yourself.
Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing. 1 Thessalonians 5:11
Part of discovering “who’s going with you?” Is finding out the lives you can influence as you go. Obviously, this is a clear distinction from point #2 as these are people you pour into but it’s to help position them for their own calling. One of the things I always heard in vocational ministry was “Find ways to replicate yourself.” There’s a lot of truth in that. It means you are not just hoarding the platform you have for your own fame and/or glory. You want God to raise up others; to allow your mantle to be passed on. It’s crucial and this is a place where there is no room for pride or arrogance. The longer you are at work in something, the more “students” and proteges you should accumulate.
One of the easiest ways to diffuse pride is simply to encourage someone. Sometimes as leaders we see someone doing very well, even better than ourselves at something. We start to compare ourselves and get jealous. This is a point where Satan tempts us with pride. He tries to get us to compete or “look down” on someone else. To stop this notion dead in its tracks, try simply acknowledging someone’s gift and thank them for what they are doing. Build them up in some way. Tearing down, either by words or actions (or lack thereof), is not becoming of a mature believer. Encouragement breeds more encouragement. Try it, it works!
This final installment is nothing today unless you put action to it. What does this mean for you and your calling in 2021? Do you need to pray for God to lead you to a team of support? Do you need to cut out some things that are holding you back? Do you need to start looking for people to invest in? Those are things to consider and each one has an inherent action step. Reading this and agreeing with it in your spirit is one thing. Taking steps is another. I hope after all we’ve discussed this month, you are ready to take action steps and perhaps have already.
One last word: I’ve been blessed by the Lord to see this blog and any ministry platform He’s given allow me to build a base and tribe right here. I’ve connected with dozens, even hundreds of people over the years. We’ve had the opportunity to put some of this into action: to pray for each other, to lean on each other, and to spur one another on. That is what I believe we are called to do as Christians and I thank each of you for your prayers and encouragement along the way. Some of you I may never meet until we get to Heaven. But I look forward to that day! This will all have been worth it, I guarantee you.
Love you guys and love walking this journey with you.
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Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is. Ephesians 5:15-17