What happens when you finally arrive at the place or calling you have been dreaming about for years? Long ago you received a great promise from God just as David did from Samuel and after years in the wilderness you finally come into your own personal promised land. We assume that just because we finally leave the wilderness that everything will be ok and we can just kick up our feet and enjoy the benefits of finally receiving the manifestation of God’s grand promise in our lives.
However, what most people fail to realize is that exiting the wilderness and coming into your own personal promised land brings with it the opportunity to either succeed or fall into even more trouble than you experienced in the wilderness. We expect a Disney style happily ever after to soar across the sky when we receive our promise, such as when David was made king of Judah. In our minds we expect the story to end there, no more development just the enjoyment of what we have received.
This place is where we tend to get complacent and forget the lessons we learned in the darker moments in the wilderness. This is where we have a choice to either remain diligent and faithful or we allow ourselves to abuse and neglect the great things God has done for us over the years. Just look at the Israelites after they exited the wilderness and began to take the Promised Land. They were delivered from the desert but still had to struggle to claim that territory, and after they took enough of it to be comfortable, they relented and assumed that now it was time to live happily ever after. But that’s not what happened throughout the book of Judges. We see how Israel stood at the crossroads of the two paths of a fulfilled calling and decided to take the dark path which lead them to idolatry, rebellion and oppression.
When we face the culmination of our calling becoming realized the temptation is there and stronger than ever to “forget” the three great keys of 1) Go to church, 2) Read your Bible and 3) Don’t Sin. The entire process of Anointing, Apprenticeship, Activation and Announcement which was supposed to draw you closer to God becomes corrupted and simply makes you a god unto yourself.
This is why we have to take the lessons, experiences and times with God we have lived though during the wilderness and become even more diligent so we can make it to the bottom of the mountain and receive our commission without sacrificing our relationship with God in the process.
Finally Reaching the Place of Announcement
At this point of the story we see the day that David became king in 2 Samuel 1. Despite the setbacks faced by the Amalekites raid in 1 Samuel 30 David proved to his men that he was a faithful leader who would stop at nothing to take back what was stolen from them. He turned a moment of grief and loss into one of victory and it’s no surprise that this is the last major event which happened before the battle between Israel and Philistia which claimed the lives of Saul and Jonathan (1 Samuel 31).
In the aftermath that followed that battle David finally became king of Judah (2 Samuel 2:4), but this was not the end of the story. It was another seven and a half years after this coronation that David became the undisputed king of Israel (2 Samuel 5:4-5), albeit under less than ideal circumstances. Such as the seven-year civil war ((2 Samuel 3:1), Joab’s murder of Abner (2 Samuel 3:26-27) and the murder of king Ishbosheth (2 Samuel 4:5-8). Both of these deaths were not by David’s hand but by overly zealous and selfish individuals trying to force David’s promise into coming to pass. See, no happily ever after guaranteed here for many of those involved.
Even at times when we feel we have a calling and a promise from God we actually might be going against God’s will. It seems that Ishbosheth was fully convinced that he was the true and anointed king of Israel after Saul and Jonathan died. This is something we need to honestly ask ourselves in our own lives and the pursuit of our promised land. In this story are we David or Ishbosheth, Abner or Joab, Peter or Judas? To understand who we actually are in God’s eyes as this story plays out we need to begin to recognize the differences between the signposts of the false path and the true path.
The Six Signposts of the False Path
When you go down the false path there are six things which will begin to manifest in your life and lead you further away from God and deeper into a worship of yourself and other things. Each of these signposts will lead you further down into the darkness which seeks to corrupt and destroy the promise from God in your life. Yet at each step there is still the opportunity for repentance where you can escape this twisted trajectory, but it feels that at each step that window of repentance gets smaller and smaller as our own pride and desires overshadow the light of Christ trying to rescue us from ourselves.
What I’m about to lay out here is not a random process, you will see how each stage is a progression into the other. As people struggle without repentance in each step it is only natural to descend even further down into trouble and a corruption of their spiritual gifts and calling from God. You’ll also notice later that many of these steps will have a counterpart that we’ll see next month in The Seven True Signposts That’ll Supercharge Your Ministry.
Many of the trials are the same but how we react and work in cooperation with God will determine the blessings or curses which come on our heart and life in general. I pray that you take a deep look at yourself as you read through this list and don’t just think about other people when you see each signpost.
1) Admiration: What I am speaking of here is the love and support of those around you, and those who helped you get to where God is calling you. This isn’t a bad thing to feel and experience on the surface, but it can become a stumbling block if you become addicted to the praise of others and base your choices on how the people will admire and praise you for your actions (John 12:43). This is the first test which will determine if your heart becomes entrenched in either pride (1 Timothy 3:6) or humility (1 Peter 5:5) as this process becomes a greater part of your life.
2) Addiction: When we begin to find our identity in the admiration of other people and not in Christ, we begin to get addicted to the sociological high we feel,or even the rush you get in ministry. We begin to fall into the same trap king Saul did where he disobeyed God in order to please the people who had lost patience with Samuel. Or you end up like the false teachers Peter spoke of in 2 Peter 2:12-17 who are referred to as wells without water, those whose true purpose is made hollow.
3) Adultery: From the place of admiration and addiction comes the next phase, adultery. This can run the gambit from physical adultery with a person other than your spouse all the way to spiritual adultery that you commit against God. The natural side of this is the climax of false admiration. Where you as person in ministry finds fulfillment in the arms of another who “appreciates” you or your giftings more than those closest to you. Or you do it just because you wanted to like David did with Bathsheba. The spiritual side of adultery comes in the form of setting other teachings, spirits, or the opinions of others over and above God in your life. Another form of this spiritual adultery comes in the form of grafting in teachings from non-biblical spiritual sources into the gospel and creating a mish-mash of people pleasing doctrines that lead people further away from God (even if they don’t realize it until its too late).
4) Accusation: When addiction to the opinions of people and the darkness of adultery (natural and spiritual) begins to reach their boiling point you often lash out in accusation against others who are making the same mistakes. Or you fight against anyone and everyone who could question your actions or even discover the problems of your own heart. Other times this is the season where the first whispers of your failings begin to escape from the places you prayed no one would discover (1 Timothy 5:24). Here you begin to convince yourself that because of grace or previous season of faithfulness God will overlook this darkness which is overtaking your life (Romans 2:1-6).
5) Adversity: From the place of accusation you move then to the place of adversity where you are either trying to defend the choices that placed you on the false path or you begin to openly attack all those who try to oppose or correct you. This is a terrible time not just for those in ministry but for the entire church (and larger body of Christ as well). A time where the world sees that those Christians are no better off (or are actually worse) than they are. This adversity is the last chance a person in ministry has to rectify their problems and seek help. Unfortunately, most people on this false path instead become more entrenched. This is similar to how Saul after being rejected by God fell into the place of madness, rage and an absence of peace.
6) Abdicate: Eventually once you come to the sudden end of the false path you will be faced with the command to abdicate your calling and purpose in life. Here the failures, sins and stubbornness of your life leads you to the place where you are disqualified from continuing in your ministry/calling/promise. That is not to say a person cannot be restored after years of repair, but this is the point where the needs of the many outweigh the sins of the one, so to speak. For Saul this began when Samuel declared him to be stripped of God’s favor and that judgment came to pass when he was killed in the war against the Philistines. Even in the New Testament we have examples spoken of by Paul such as Hymenaeus and Alexander (1 Timothy 1:19-20, 2 Timothy 2:14-19) who were separated so they couldn’t do more damage to the church.
The Bridge To Nowhere
The end of the false path brings us to the place where all of the good things God has promised to do through our lives gets used against us to drive us further away from Him than we ever were before. Each gift and opportunity was corrupted and used to bring about the opposite intention that God commissioned. Here in this pit of despair you are left alone with the hauntings of your heart which show you all the damage you did to yourself, those around you and the church as a whole. There you are not like Jeremiah looking for help and justification for your faithfulness but rather you are there as a prisoner who can no longer be allowed to inflict damage on others any further.
This pit of darkness is the final realm of repentance where those who sacrificed their hearts and relationships with God little by little are left to wrestle with the implications of living a life or leading a ministry which was more concerned with pleasing people and becoming successful according to the worlds standards
You can compare these people to medieval knights who in the midst of battle began to take off their armor piece by piece so they can be freer to live out their calling as a knight. Yet each time they took off a piece of their armor they left themselves increasingly exposed to the perils of the false signposts. They wanted to be free of the weight and limitations the armor provided so they threw it away piece by piece until they were no longer protected on the battlefield. Eventually those knights were wounded, killed, captured, or they ended up betraying their allegiances and ended up serving the desires of their enemy.
Hope is not lost as next month I’ll show you The Seven True Signposts That’ll Supercharge Your Ministry and show you how to overcome the pitfalls of the false path and become a success in ministry according to God’s standards.
The Six False Signposts That’ll Derail Your Ministry Cameron Conway is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.