At James River College every day is an exciting adventure! It’s full of growth, leadership development, and an unbelievable opportunity. We are constantly left in awe by what God is doing through the College and the Church that we get to be a part of! There is no doubt that we are the hands and feet of Jesus by being a part of lifting the local church. But let’s face it, while all these incredible things are happening around us, we still encounter moments in our lives that can be less than anticipated. Pastor Brian Houston says,” The distance between expectation and reality is a disappointment, and the degree your expectation falls short of reality will be the degree of disappointment you experience.” We try out for the worship team and we didn’t feel like we nailed the audition. We apply to be an intern and don’t feel great about the interview. We make it known that we want to be a pastor and communicate the gospel, but the opportunity to speak hasn’t arrived. So then, what do we do while in the waiting? How do we respond when the opportunity we thought we deserved hasn’t come yet?
Understand that you are not alone. I have been there personally, and at some point in time, we all face similar thoughts and feelings. I’ve been the girl that didn’t make her first audition and didn’t nail the interview. Trust me; I know it’s hard to question the belief that you are exactly where God has called you, but it’s even more dangerous when we let these temporary feelings rule our lives. It’s important to take every opportunity to learn and grow from every situation that you have been placed in. I want to share two ways that I have learned over the past few years on how to respond to those very thoughts and feelings.
Recognize the Sovereignty of God
To say that God is Sovereign is to declare that He is the Almighty, the Possessor of all power in Heaven and earth, so that none can defeat His counsels, thwart His purpose, or resist His will (Psa. 115:3). To say that God is Sovereign is to declare that He is “The Governor among the nations” (Psa. 22:28), setting up kingdoms, overthrowing empires, and determining the course of dynasties as pleaseth Him best. To say that God is Sovereign is to declare that He is the “Only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords” (1 Tim. 6:15). Such is the God of the Bible.” Arthur Pink: Sovereignty of God
Here some reasons why this is a freeing perspective on opportunities.
Believing in the sovereignty of God and that nothing can thwart His sovereign plan over your life, helps you understand that not getting the opportunity you wanted means it wasn’t part of God’s plan for you. This doesn’t mean that you should stop trying or pursuing the dreams God placed in your heart. Instead, it creates an understanding that YOU don’t have to make them happen and that you’re not the one that can make them happen. I encourage you to pray that God continues to guide you and that His desire for you and your life becomes the same desires that you have.
Recognizing His sovereignty is freeing because you know it had nothing to do with your imperfections or ability (or lack thereof), but because that is what God ordained to happen before the beginning of time. Because in reality, you don’t deserve the opportunities that come your way in the first place. It is by His grace, and His grace alone, that He chooses to let you be a part of what He is doing. Nothing can thwart the plans that He has for your life. No mistake you make, and nothing that anyone else does can change what God had already planned for your life. This should be a comforting thought that you don’t have to worry or live in fear that you are doing what God has willed for your life because His sovereignty doesn’t change. He knew you before you were born and He has seen into the eternity of time. Do you not think he knows every second of what your life will look like?
Trusting the sovereignty of God enables you to trust those in leadership above you. If we truly believe that God has ordained leadership over us, we have to believe that he has allowed and influenced their decision making. Trusting His sovereignty is trusting the leadership He placed in your life. And trusting leadership is trusting that they know what is best for you and are a tool that God uses to speak into your life.
I know this probably doesn’t make sense at first, but let me explain. The reality is that if there is an opportunity that we are after and we don’t get it, someone else received it instead of us. It’s easy to compare ourselves to others in that moment of not feeling as “good” or list off all the reasons why we are better than them. It’s dangerous. The comparison game never builds unity in the body of Christ or lifts each other up in love.
Here are some thoughts on why encouragement is so important to our perspective of what seems like a “lost” opportunity.
Talking poorly about the opportunities someone else is getting because you don’t think they deserve them, will instantly close off any door that God wants to open for you. Why would He want to open a door for you if you can’t simply be happy for the doors that He’s opening for His other children? Paul says in Romans 12:10 “Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.” Honoring people before yourself is not thinking LOW of yourself, but declaring the good things God is doing in them. It’s not comparing all the ways that you’re better than someone, but speaking to the gifts and talents God has given them. Talking negatively about someone only feeds into their own insecurities and doesn’t reflect the heart of the Father towards them.
“If you can’t find one nice thing to say about someone, that’s a YOU problem” – James River College Director, Josh Hackworth
Maybe God is wanting to use YOU to speak life into them! The person that received the opportunity you wanted might be thinking they don’t deserve it! Believe it or not, that could very well be what you bring to those opportunities you thought you deserved. Real talk: you dishonor God when you talk badly about what He is doing through someone else. You are ultimately saying that you know better than God and He messed up giving that opportunity to someone else.
Be as excited for them as God is! This builds unity within the body of believers and is completely necessary if we ever want to be a part of moving the church forward and expanding our influence. God is blessed and delights in His children doing what He has planned for them and if we are to be like Him, why don’t we get delighted for others? Why don’t we respond in the same type of joy that the Father does? It’s because we are imperfectly human and naturally there is nothing good in us. It’s a constant battle against our flesh and Spirit. It would be so much more freeing to live in the choice of responding in joy for other people. We would no longer carry this weight of comparing, not feeling good enough, pride, feeling looked-over, and just rest in the pure joy of what God is doing through our brothers & sisters in Christ.
Finally, I think of Job in the Old Testament. I think about how God allowed for trials, heartache, and disappointment to come his way. It wasn’t by mistake or accident that they happened or because of anything that Job did. It simply happened because it was part of God’s sovereign plan to receive glory. When we recognize God’s sovereignty we know that these moments in our life are for His ultimate glory. That these are the moments He is testing us to prove the steadfastness of our faith (James 1:2-4). By recognizing and understanding God’s sovereignty over our own lives, we can build each other up in love through encouragement to ultimately give God all the glory that He deserves.