I can’t do virtual,” I heard another person say recently. ” And I don’t know if I can continue in this work if everything now is online.” Their work is in ministry with college students; and they do their work to be in the same space as students. “Why continue, if this is not what I signed up for?”
I get it. And I have said the same thing. There was a time during some conflict I thought, “This is not what I signed up for. I signed up to work with people who will get along.”
There was the time of the drastic change in finances — pretty much overnight. Our contributions to our ministry went down by a third with no notice. Because of the circumstances, I thought this was probably a sign to change occupation. I would daydream about greener pastures. This was not what I signed up for.
Now there is this time in history. And this time is a test of leadership. For leading involves direction, and there seems to be too little of that right now. And everything keeps changing!
It tests our plans. For everything is out of our control.
It tests our calling. “Now, why am I doing this?”
It tests our methods. There is no manual, expert or even last year’s meeting minutes to be a guide through this.
Leadership tests are nothing new though. The books of Acts records a huge leadership test in the unexpected. It is the beginnings of the life of the disciples without Jesus. Jesus is gone to heaven. The disciples are away from their homes in Galilee — and have been for awhile now. They are facing many unknowns, and uncertainties.
It is also a situation that Peter, nor any of the disciples, would have wanted or planned. I am not sure this is what he signed up for when he dropped his nets. And what is about to happen they could not have calculated, or contrived. It was out of their control. Go to Acts 2, and read it again. This is not their plan.
It may feel out of control, but not totally without direction. They do have a purpose. Jesus gave that to them with the call and commission before He ascended to heaven. They are to be His witnesses, starting in Jerusalem and then beyond, to the nations. But how that would happen was also beyond them. They are the eyewitnesses to Jesus’ life, miracles, teachings, sufferings, death, burial, resurrection and ascension. This is their commissioned calling — to be His witnesses.
Their call is clear, but seemingly impossible.
One thing is very interesting. In Acts 2, Luke records the locations of where people are from who are in Jerusalem for the festival at that time. Luke records places like Mesopotamia, Asia, Egypt, Libya, Rome and many others. The Spirit comes. The nations are present. Peter spontaneously preaches as an eyewitness to Jesus’ life, death and resurrection. Three thousand are baptized that day. These people will disperse and go back to all the places Luke just listed. People are God’s method.
Their plans may have fallen apart, but the call was certain. And now the method is revealed. They are to make and multiply disciples in the power of the Spirit, and send and take the gospel to the world.
Times like these, just like for the disciples, are a test of our leadership. For our plans, calling and methods are tested. When those are tested we will naturally say, “This is not what I signed up for.”
I am reminded that I have never really had control anyway. Plans often do change, but Jesus’ mission is certain. And the method is actually still the same — just as He told the fishermen as they dropped their nets. They would be catching people. God uses people, and then people go and disperse. It is simple. The process is probably slower, as the world seems to stand still. But my timeline has always seemed to shift — etched in sand and not in stone. God does still use people, one at at time. God uses people to be His witnesses for making and multiplying disciples. This never changes. This is what I signed up for!