Stepping Into Your Calling Episode 3 – Who Are You Trying To Impress
In a world overrun with different ways to impress people how do we go about impressing the only one who really matters in our ministry?
Stepping Into Your Calling Episode 3 – Who Are You Trying To Impress
In a world overrun with different ways to impress people how do we go about impressing the only one who really matters in our ministry?
A core part of our relationship with Christ is rooted and grounded in our faith in the goodness of God. By that I mean we have a trust, love and respect for God which is built upon our knowledge that He is a good and loving God who is trying to restore a creation which has gone haywire.
What are the qualifications in our day for pastors, deacons, elders and leaders in general? What plumb line, or bar are we measured against that allows us the privilege of open ministry (both corporate and individual)? On a personal level what qualifies us to openly display the gospel to the unbeliever?
You can find the article this podcast is based on here: https://conwaychristianresources.com/2018/11/blog/do-you-qualify-for-ministry/
No matter what God has called you to be it in ministry, business, government, education etc., you will notice that jealousy inevitably follows after favor. It doesn’t just follow but it hunts and runs after it because others see something in you they either want, need or used to have. Many people who have been called and anointed by God have faced this challenge and those who successfully pass this test are allowed to take the next step in their callings. While those who fail typically become the next generation of the jealous who go about hunting those called by God to achieve something in this world.
When God begins to move in your life people start paying attention to you wherever you go. At times this can be good attention like the kind which helps you find those that can aid you in your journey, or you find others needed help as well. This is the place of favor where God begins to connect you with others so that your callings and dreams can manifest in this world. Even David had these people in his life with the likes of Samuel, Jonathan, this mighty men, Joab and others.
However, there’s a second category of attention that you will receive. People who are anointed typically encounter where those who either hate, resent or covet what God has placed upon their life. As you progress in you calling and relationship with God these people will emerge and try to either silence you, cripple you or convert you into one of them.
How you deal with these people will determine how you progress along the path of the 4 A’s of Anointing, Apprenticeship, Activation and Announcement. No matter what you’re called to become you’ll encounter this resistance in some way, shape or form. This resistance can come in the form of a person, group, organization, friend, family member or online stranger. It feels as if there is a natural attraction that the darkness has when it sees the light of God in someone. Not that they want to encounter the light of God but rather they are attracted to it because they want to snuff it out, so their darkness isn’t disturbed.
Once God began to bring close supporters into David’s life then it was only a matter of time that the crowds at large began to recognize what was happening in his life. Between the defeat of Goliath and David’ blossoming military career he was being moved closer into the national spotlight right next to Saul. With each task placed before him David was found to be faithful and wise and victories against Israel’s primary enemy the Philistines were happening at a pace not seen since Joshua’s invasion.
What happened here is that God provided David an opportunity to enter into his season of apprenticeship in his anointing and David took that opportunity and did something with it. He didn’t talk about it, or dream of what he could do with those opportunities, no he went to work, and out worked those around him. We don’t just get David boasting about himself about all of this, rather we witness the praises of the people who were beginning to see David as the new great warrior of Israel. A title that used to be Saul’s up until he was abandoned by God and he no longer fought as he used to, we see with his unwillingness to answer Goliath’s challenge and by him remaining often in his capital of Gibeah while David went out and fought.
1 Samuel 18:6-7 “6 Now it had happened as they were coming home, when David was returning from the slaughter of the Philistine, that the women had come out of all the cities of Israel, singing and dancing, to meet King Saul, with tambourines, with joy, and with musical instruments. 7 So the women sang as they danced, and said: “Saul has slain his thousands, And David his ten thousands.”
While this was good news for David it was interpreted in a completely different way by Saul, who took these words as being the manifestation of his greatest fear. Since he was rejected as king by God (1 Samuel 15:26-28) Saul has been on the lookout for the “neighbor of yours, who is better than you” who would take the kingdom away from him. God had already taken the kingdom away from Saul spiritually but the day was not yet for it to be taken away in the natural realm.
This reaction from Saul is common in those who have lost their anointing, calling, hope or living relationship with God. They can’t stand seeing someone else enjoying the benefits they used to have but lost for some reason or another. Some lost them through sin, others from a lack of faith, greed, the pressures of the world and still others because they were “re-educated” into thinking what they had or had been called to was wrong, evil, undesirable or “not God’s will.”
Saul failed because of his sin, but there are others such as Samson who gave into his wife’s pressure or Jeroboam’s descent into idolatry following the division of the kingdom and Gideon who later built a false ephod (a counterfeit to the true tabernacle) in his home town (Judges 8:27-29). Everyone in these examples began strong and accomplished great things for God but life, circumstances and even their own hearts broke them down and they ended up in darkness, despite the great things God had done for them.
Jeroboam went from heeding a prophets words to trying to kill them, Gideon fought against God’s enemies but later created his own priesthood and lead Israel away from God and the ark, Sampson despite his great power squandered his giftings and only acted out his calling when he was mad or inconvenienced. The same pattern exists today as being called and anointed by God is not a guarantee that you’ll never encounter troubles or that you’ll never fly off of the rails and end up in a ditch or in a disaster.
With Saul his paranoia drove him over the edge as he continually heard the people’s praises about David, and he began to fear that a coup could be soon underway. Often those with a call on their lives will encounter their own version of a Saul in their life, be it a person, group or so on. These are the people who see everyone else that has a touch of God’s favor and presence upon their lives as a threat to their position, purpose and livelihood.
1 Samuel 18:8 “And Saul was very angry, for the saying displeased him; and he said, They have ascribed to David ten thousands, but to me they have ascribed only thousands. What more can he have but the kingdom?” (AMPC)
1 Samuel 18:15 “When Saul saw how capable and successful David was, he stood in awe of him.” (AMPC)
For those who are like Saul in this situation they are not interested int building up the next generation of the church (or in what ever arena you are called to) but are only focused on keeping their backsides in their own chairs and not allowing anything to change. They resist anything that causes growth that wasn’t their own idea and often they are more focused on managing everything than on causing it to grow and develop. Because growth requires more hands to help in administrating and each one of those new hands is a threat to their coveted seat.
Saul feared that this nobody shepherd from the backwoods of Judah who had killed the giant he should’ve fought was now garnering the praised of the people who used to adore him. Saul stood head and shoulders above everyone’s else (1 Samuel 9:2) but that wasn’t enough any longer to inspire the people. Deep down within Saul the idea that there was no one was bigger, better or more anointed than him in Israel began to crumble, and in his already fractured state that realization drove him over the edge.
David had what he used to possess, even if he didn’t know about David and Samuel’s encounter, Saul must have recognized the moving of God’s spirit on David. Saul recognized what David had because it’s what he used to possess and he knew what was possible when that power and anointing was upon a person. Saul knew this and that’s why he was jealous of David and that is why he began to fear him. He wanted back what he had lost and since he could never get it back he decided that no one else should be able to have God’s anointing upon them either.
Proverbs 28:16 A ruler who lacks understanding is a great oppressor, But he who hates covetousness will prolong his days. (NKJV0
Job 5:2 For wrath kills a foolish man, And envy slays a simple one. (NKJV)
At its core jealousy is just a pathway that leads to a crossroads, inevitably you’ll have to make a decision when you reach this juncture. You can either repent and turn around or you have one of two choices you can either turn one way down the path of lust and covetousness or you can turn down the other path which leads to destruction. One path will make you devote your life to acquiring something you don’t have (or used to have) no matter the cost. The other path will make you devote your life to destroying what another person has because if you can’t have it then no one can.
Next week I’ll talk about how Saul’s jealousy transformed into fear and hatred but for now I want you to be aware that these types of situations still happened not just in the world but also in the church. It can happen between pastors and staff, between members and volunteers, between strangers and the pastor and so on. So it should be no surprise that behaviors and risks like this happen but what should you do to model your life after what David did?
What we need to first realize is that our own lives are not about proving those jealous people wrong it’s about witnessing God being right about what he has cultivated in your heart and life while witnessing the fruits of that manifest in the world around you. The first and best thing you can do is to remain faithful and committed to what God is leading you to/through. As we’ll see in the coming weeks David had literal spears thrown at him but he still refused to murder Saul, or to take a shortcut in this journey to becoming king.
Before I continue I feel that I must make this statement: David’s example with Saul doesn’t mean that you cannot “turn over” a fallen leader who has engaged in criminal or unethical activities. Saul received his judgment before David was anointed and David didn’t invent stories to try and take down Saul. However, you must not feel obligated to insulate or protect a fallen leader when they have committed a crime, had a breach of ethics or have engaged in improper sexual activities.
You are not in the wrong to turn that leader over to the authorities, just as long as the accusations are more than just gossip and hearsay that weren’t fabricated. I feel many people take this interchange between David and Saul and use it as justification to allow a leader to continue in their sins and issues, or this story is used to intimidate victims or witnesses from coming forward. That is not the situation that happened here with David and Saul and I feel it this needs to be mentioned here.
If you want a biblical example of how this should take place look at the example of Nathan confronting David about Bathsheba, or Paul confronting Peter about his treatment of the Gentile believers. Those examples provide a healthy biblical example of how to deal with a person in leadership who has failed in their duties and ethics.
Back on track now. Really your best course of action when you encounter these people is to let them “yell at the clouds” so to say and for you to continue being faithful in what God is leading you through. That’s what David did, he was found more wise and successful than the other military commanders (1 Samuel 18:30). It’s also how someone like Paul was able to go from the great persecutor to the great Apostle, he was humble, faithful and determined to do all he could for God that picked him up from his mess and made him a herald of the great King.
If God sees it necessary he may even will remove those people eventually from your life or he could also will use them to drive you into the next phase of your calling. Either way those proverbial Saul’s aren’t always to be seen as mighty adversaries but rather as either speedbumps or detour signs along the road between where God called you from and where God is calling you to.
First understanding that there are people out there that won’t appreciate God’s calling and purpose on your life is the first step in learning how to best navigate those situations. Yet at the same time you need to be open and humble enough to recognize when a person is jealous or envious of you and when they are actually hearing from God and are trying to correct and refine you. You can’t respond to every word or person that doesn’t tickle your ear by calling them a Saul, you need to be sensitive to the spirit so that you can also recognize those who come to you like Nathan to keep you on the path God has placed you on.
You’re job is to serve, love and follow God and to do it in a Christlike manner so that the majority of people recognize what God is doing, just like the crowds did with David. So don’t fear the Saul’s of your life, don’t allow those who are broken and jealous to convert you into one of them. Just seek God and continue to be faithful with what God has given to you so that you can discover your true purpose, so you can build the kingdom and then support the next generation of anointed sons and daughters.
Those who have been given a call and purpose from God will inevitable find themselves facing a great decisive and unexpected challenges which will determine if they will continue down the path God has laid out. However, this challenge is not always expected and more often than not we find ourselves stumbling upon it going about our daily lives.
Not every battle is laid out before us in advance and many times we will find ourselves stepping into the unexpected and then we discover why God led us to that place. We don’t always get pulled aside by someone and given a tactical briefing about something special or unusual that is going to happen that day which has the potential to reshape our lives. But that’s what happened with David he went about the mundane dealings of life and suddenly found himself standing face to face with Goliath.
This is the third part in my look into the life of David to help you discover how we to live you life after being called, commissioned or given a life’s purpose by God. Already we’ve seen how David’s heart handled the anointing by Samuel (Pt.1 HERE) and how David had the humility to serve Saul as his royal minstrel (Pt. 2 HERE) while still maintaining his family responsibilities (1 Samuel 17:15). Now we move on to the defining moment that launched David out of his season of Anointing and into his time of Apprenticeship.
Not long after David became the royal minstrel Saul and the Philistines went to war, to fight over control of territory in western Judah (1 Samuel 17:2). Israel was trying to retain the land taken by the likes of Joshua, Caleb and Othniel while the Philistines were looking to push inward. However, this time was different it wasn’t just two waves crashing together in battle this time there were theatrics at play. The Philistines had their super-weapon and they were looking to coax someone from the Israelite army to agree to a champions battle (1 Samuel 17:8-9). In this battle the Philistines had Goliath, a giant (Anakim), and a descendant (or even a distant relative) of a tribe of giants disposed by Joshua’s conquest of the land given to the tribe of Judah (Joshua 11:21-22).
Now a champions battle which Goliath was trying to bait Israel into is when a conflict is decided by a single warrior or small group of representatives from each army engaging in combat to determine an overall victor. This isn’t that crazy as it does prevent unnecessary loss of life in a conflict, although it appears to be more popular in stories than in actual battle, however there are real examples of this from history outside of the Biblical account.
This is the part of the account where David comes into play. After several weeks of the Philistine’s taunting Israel David’s father Jesse got the idea to send some supplies to the front lines of the pending battle (1 Samuel 17:17-18). David’s three oldest brothers were there so Jesse (fun fact: the son of Boaz and Ruth) asked David of all people to bring some food for them along with some cheese for their commander/regiment, then return home with a report.
David didn’t go to the front lines to specifically fight Goliath that day, he went at the request of his father to bring supplies to the army and his older brothers. David and Jesse probably had no idea about what was going on at the front line with Goliath taunting and challenging the Israelite army. David was just being obedient to his father, even though he was king Saul’s personal minstrel and the next anointed king of Israel.
Once David arrived at the front lines days later the reason God led him there became apparent. As David was passing through the camp after delivering his supplies he overheard the commotion coming from the Philistine side of the battlefield (1 Samuel 17:23). After hearing the words of Goliath David demanded to know what would happened to the person that takes out this giant. David even goes as far to say “For who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should defy the armies of the living God?” in verse 26.
It becomes apparent here that David’s trust and relationship with God gave him the faith to speak these words and to do the things he did later that day. By calling Goliath an “uncircumcised Philistine” he was declaring that Goliath was outside of God’s covenant and represented no real threat to those who serve and follow God. This is why David called Israel’s army the “armies of the living God,” as opposed to the Philistines who only served idols and demons.
David like Joshua and Caleb generations ago recognized the formidable foes that stood before them but had more hope in God’s ability to fight for them than in the giants’ ability to squash them. It’s the same with us today there will come times in your life where circumstances, opponents or even yourself will appear to be like this mighty giant that is taunting you to walk into what appears in the natural to be an unwinnable battle.
How many thousands of Israelite soldiers where there from all twelve tribes yet none of them had the faith (Numbers 13:33, Deuteronomy 1:28) to stand up against this giant (aka Rephaim, Emim, Anakim, sons of Anak) in the same manner that their faithful ancestors did (Joshua 11:21, 13:12, 14:12-15, 15:13).
Giants are not immortal or unbeatable but they are difficult to destroy if we go out in our own strength and without God’s assistance. David realized this He knew that God was more powerful than any living or breathing being outside of the covenant. To David this battle was not impossible and perhaps he was even reminded of the story of Caleb and Othniel fellow members of the tribe of Judah who killed several giants 300 or so years previously (Joshua 15, Judges 1).
This giant wasn’t there specifically to challenge David, Goliath was there challenging every person who followed the God of Israel. It was an open challenge to each and every soldier who claimed to follow the God who brought them out of slavery and into this Promised Land. Often this is how many “giants” in our lives operate they are not always looking not attack us directly but are looking to attack or embarrassed anyone and everyone who serves God. They do this to discredit God in the eyes of the people and to lure people into thinking that the giant’s gods/demons are the ones with real power and must be served.
David was there that day to honor his fathers request to bring supplies to the front lines, he didn’t go to fight or to impress the crowds he simply did as his father requested and once he arrive an opportunity was there waiting for him.
After seeing this display from Goliath David asked what if any was Saul promising to give the one who silenced this giant. A soldier responded to David by saying that the reward would be riches, Saul’s daughter, and tax exemption for his (and father’s) family (1 Samuel 17:25). On the one hand this sounds like everything you would want if you were anointed to be the next king. Riches to solidify your position among the people, a marriage to bring you into the royal family and the added benefit of you and your father’s house getting tax exemption status.
Many people would jump at the opportunity to receive this reward alone, except in this case they didn’t. There was something all of the other soldiers were missing, they were missing God in this equation. To David these rewards were not the reason for him wanting to challenge Goliath, David’s motivation came from wanting to stand up for God, the rewards were just a bonus for his faithfulness.
If one of the other soldiers had taken up Saul’s offer and lost then the army would have had to stand down and serve the Philistines as slaves, conscripts and Saul would become a vassal or be executed. The risk was too high just to receive riches alone, which is why things changed when David arrived.
I feel/fear today that far too often people who are anointed and called by God rush into these battles just so they can receive the natural rewards that are offered. They want the riches and recognition now and their hearts are in the wrong place. Often they only realize this after they have been defeated, but many times that defeat has lasting consequences on them and on those around them. Just as if an unanointed soldier had challenged Goliath and died the nation would have suffered the consequences I feel that often the same thing happens with the church at large.
Far too often we seek out money, fame, influence and lose sight of why we are doing the things we are in ministry. It becomes more about advancement and position and less about pleasing God and doing what’s right in His eyes. David stood up against Goliath because of the things Goliath was saying not because he was looking for a wife or gold.
David’s inquiries into the possible reward for killing Goliath didn’t go unnoticed, David’s oldest brother Eliab overhead his little brother and snapped at him. Eliab said in 1 Samuel 17:28 “Why did you come down here? And with whom have you left those few sheep in the wilderness? I know your pride and the insolence of your heart, for you have come down to see the battle.”
This is an astounding response from David’s brother because he knew who David was called to be, he was there when Samuel anointed him. Eliab knew full well that God had appointed David to be King of Israel yet he still responded in this manner. He took David’s questioning about Goliath and declared it as being prideful or just wanting to watch the battle and perhaps “play the role of a king,” or thought that David was hoping for to Saul be killed.
Eliab wasn’t alone as others mocked David as well, but this type of response always goes hand in hand whenever anyone has faith for God to do mighty things. Even Jesus received this type of mockery by the people of Nazareth (Mark 6:1-6). Others such as the prophet Jeremiah faced the same criticism from the people of his own home town Anathoth (Jeremiah 11:21). There is always this repeating resistance to anyone who tries to actually take God, his promises and His words at face value and try to do something to fight back against these so-called giants and unexpected challenges.
It’s no different for us today, if we believe that God has a plan and a purpose for our lives we have to be prepared to face several things. We have to be ready for unexpected giants to cross our paths and we need to be emotionally ready for the complaining and push back we receive from others when we try to do something about those giants. It’s always easier to sit back and complain about the challenges in front of us and its comforting to ridicule others for trying to deal with problems we have no desire or faith to overcome ourselves. It’s that notion of settling for mediocrity and making sure no one else tries to rise above that level, because if they do then our excuses of why we never did anything about those challenges evaporate and we are left in shame.
This is where David found himself, he saw the giant and heard his accusations against God and his people, he had enough faith to ask what would come about for the one who wiped out this accuser and he was faced with ridicule. Were the people so far removed from the victories of Joshua that they no longer had any faith in God’s intervention, and what did they expect would happen if no on answered Goliath’s challenge. I’m sure eventually Goliath and the Philistines would have run out of patience and overrun the Israelite camp, leaving scores dead and the people in slavery once again.
Avoiding these unexpected challenges is never an answer because eventually they will overcome you and your walk with God. You can’t just camp out of the battlefield and hope the opposing force gets bored and walks away. That’ll never happen, the only solution is to partner with God and stand against them. That’s what was in David’s heart He saw the giant, heard His words but unlike the other Israelite soldiers he had a firm grasp on who God is, what was available to him through the covenant, and how little a threat Goliath was in God’s eyes.
We can move out in the same faith today to see these unexpected challenges through the lens of our New Covenant and the power of God. We need to do this because if we don’t succeed in these challenges we will find ourselves in bondage to them and our anointing, calling and purpose will either become imprisoned or we will be forced to take the long way to our ultimate destination.
These times of unexpected challenges are the times when God proves to us that what He promised is real, they are times where our own strength cannot prevail and through these victories the next stages of our walk with God begin to open up.
Next week we will see how David faced this unexpected challenge head on and how it took him into the next phase of his calling. As he progressed from the place of Anointing to the place of Apprenticeship, because someone overhead David talking and rather than ridiculing him went to the king to tell him the news that someone was ready to fight Goliath (1 Samuel 17:31)
To go deeper in your journey with Christ check out my new book Understanding Who You Are: A Survey of 21st Century Christian beliefs which is now on sale. Available in paperback (Canada or USA) and eBook! Get your copy today and discover not just your purpose but how you can build the Kingdom of God here on the Earth
Be Ready For Unexpected Challenges Cameron Conway is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.