This is the final contribution to the Leadership Transition series of blogs I have been writing. Just to summarize the three main truths I am taking away from this time:
1. WE ALL HAVE A SHELF LIFE (read more here)
2. FOR THIS TO WORK IT HAS TO BE A “WE” THING, AND NOT A “ME” THING (read more here)
3. IT IS TIME TO BE DEFINED BY SOMETHING GREATER.
It was decision time. Michelle and I had spent a month praying and seeking counsel, and now it was time to inform Lee and the Board of our decision: “Yes, I will take the position” or “No, you need to go in another direction”.
To say that in this moment I was uneasy would be an understatement. Even though we both felt like we knew what Jesus was asking us to do, I still wrestled with committing.
In my head swirled all the what-ifs: What if you start doing this and everyone hates it and leaves? What if you get into this thing only to find out you don’t have a clue, and then you’re exposed as fraud? What if it goes really well and your head balloons, and you lose Jesus in your own shadow? What if you fail? What if? What if? What if?
“You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased” – Luke tells us that these words are personal. They are carefully chosen love-filled words that God speaks to Jesus, before the devil tries to tempt him to invest in a different identity. And what hinges on these words anchoring themselves into Jesus’ heart, is the redemption of all those who have accepted something less than their true identity.
If words create worlds, then I believe that what God spoke to Jesus at that moment created a world of endless possibilities, because it was a world birthed out of God’s endless love for his children. It’s a world of hope, peace, and joy. It is a world of light, exposing the fallacy of our enemy’s words, which aim to get us to believe that we are anything but joyfully loved children of God, and that that is enough for our Father.
These words, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased”, not only anchored Christ during heightened temptation to believe otherwise, but it also catapulted him into proclaiming and demonstrating the same message to all who are desperate for its touch. Why?
Well, in the words of pastor Jonathan Martin, because “It turns out that knowing how loved we are by God makes all the difference in the kind of people we will become.”
I was smothered by all the “what-ifs”. Sure, I put on a good face for Michelle, but internally I was loosing it, because I was losing myself. I was listening to all the things that disqualified me, and it made me fearful of failing, and I didn’t want to disappoint.
And at that moment something amazing happened. Unsure of whether or not she could sense my struggle, Michelle looked at me and said,
“You know what, Joe? Let’s do this. And if it fails, who cares! We’ll still be God’s children, and we’ll still have his love. So let’s just do it with all heart and trust him for the rest.”
And as she spoke these words it happened, like it happened at the river that day. No, there were no parting skies or descending doves, but God’s loving word’s thundered and my heart grew still and secure, as I listened to his declaration, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.”
His words create a world, a world where it is safe to give and receive love, to believe, to hope, to take risks. It’s a world that generates and sustains life. It is the only world he meant for us to know, and it is the only world he seeks to make known: The world of his transforming love.
Author, Frank Laubach, states that, “The simple program of Christ for winning the whole world is to make each person he touches magnetic enough with love to draw others.”
The temptation for us all is to be defined by something less than our Father’s love and delight for us. But to settle for this would be to settle for living in a world where we become less than what we were made to be.
At that moment, and subsequently every moment since, I realize that it is time to be defined by something greater, because before I was belonged to anyone else, I was his: a beloved and delighted in son.