Without the assurance of the provision of God’s guidance and resources, I would have been crazy to accept my assignment at Christ Church of Oak Brook. Here was a 7 year old church with an average attendance and membership of about 1000 people with only 19 teaching in the Sunday School – and a large, just completed education building. Here was a church where, apart from groups such as the trustees, elders, deacons, and the choir, there were only 2 other functioning groups, one being the youth group. The assignment: Build the Body of Believers through study and fellowship. This seemed to require identifying and training over 100 teachers for the Sunday School in five months, and identifying natural affinity groups through which needs could be met.
When carrying out a God assigned task, the leader must be confident he understands his assignment and be confident God will provide all of the resources needed including the leader’s knowledge, the experience gained through his previous God given assignments, the promised guidance of the Holy Spirit, and the “raw materials” needed: people, facility, money, and equipment. Hudson Taylor, founder of China Inland Mission put it this way: “God’s work, done in God’s way, never lacks for God’s supply.” This was Hudson Taylor’s experience – and this continues to be mine.
We must never deceive ourselves into thinking that the fulfilling of our assignment will be easy. The costs may be huge – sometimes including the lives of God’s people. Abraham’s challenges included dealing with Lot and waiting for the birth of Isaac. Moses struggled leading the Israelites in the desert. Joseph had his brothers and Pharaoh’s wife to contend with. Jesus lived through persecution and died carrying out God’s will. Stephen was stoned to death. Paul was ship wrecked and often imprisoned. Today Christians living in many countries of the world are persecuted and die while obeying God’s directives. Comparing my situation at CCOB to the situations other Christians face, a piece of cake.
The Bible teaches that His Body, the Church, contains all the necessary people – to whom He has given a variety of gifts and abilities. The apostle Paul wrote similar words to the churches in Corinth and Ephesus that he wrote to the church in Rome. “in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. If a man’s gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith. If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach; if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully.” Romans 5-8.
Let’s be real. Human beings, even with the best intentions, can distort God’s assignment – sometimes to make the assignment “easier, more realistic” or to accomplish personal desires. Getting God’s assignment correct may take considerable time in prayer by the committee or person challenged with the responsibility of the work to be done. “Lord, we must get this right! We ask for your wisdom –confident we will receive it.” This is not prayer to change the mind of God; this is prayer which recognizes that this is an assignment from Almighty God. Once the assignment is agreed upon, the person being giving the responsibility must be sure he understands and is willing to carry out the assignment. “Almighty God, I will do whatever you ask of me, knowing that my ability plus your resources cannot fail to accomplish what you are asking me to do. Lord, I need your peace.” This was precisely Gideon’s feelings. Lord, I will fight for you. I will risk my life and the lives of those who follow me if I am sure I have the assignment straight! OK Lord, fleece dry, ground wet, fleece wet, ground dry. Judges 6:36-40.
When I arrived at CCOB, my understanding of what the church was asking me to do and what I could see needed to be done matched, and I was at peace. I began not knowing many of the challenges ahead or the resources to be needed. In football, if a team cannot make progress running the ball, it may be able to pass – to mix running and passing, always remembering the objective. Each member of the team must understand and carry out each assignment. The football illustration breaks down in several ways, one being, in ministry the leader never punts! He may not see progress, then a little, perhaps a huge gain, sometimes going two steps backward – but knowing that with God’s assignment and resources, there will be no ultimate failure when we live In Partnership With God.