“Strider started the trail with a purist mind-set, but soon joined with a group of hikers who are having a more social experience of the trail. He spent two weeks partying with them in Damascus. The group is ahead at Rockfish Gap, preparing to travel by canoe to Harpers Ferry, bypassing the trail through Shenandoah National Park. Strider is torn between going with them and hiking the entire trail. ‘I can still come back and hike the Shenandoah later,’ he says, echoing a common refrain.” -David Miller (AWOL)
My family and I moved to our hometown to plant a missional community (church). We’ve been here for three months and already I have received offers to be a youth leader and a worship leader. These are lucrative positions; pastors with great vision, established congregations, financial gain, immediate accomplishment, critical support and existing faith family. If I were like Strider in the previous story, I would be torn between my calling, “hiking my own hike,” or being led away from my calling for a good idea like Strider and “hike the Shenandoah later.”
I love the pastors who called me and felt the need to offer such positions to me. They are really good friends who I’ve done ministry with for years. However they felt they couldn’t go any further without at least marking me off as an option for their local church. I would have done the same. Call it a testing if you’d like.
Thankfully, I am focused on what God has called me to do. Maybe a little headstrong as well. But that’s what happens when you set out to fill your calling. Opportunities will rise to 1) test you, 2) tempt you, 3) see if you are focused, 4) confirm your calling. It will be too easy to be torn because you’ll see the good in both of those opportunities but if you stay focused, you’ll finish strong.
At my last church, we had a filter that we ran every opportunity through. We would ask, “Is it a good idea or a God idea.” Most time it was a good idea and the Good Idea Fairy has no other desire than to get you off track. It will flood your mind with what you could be doing rather than what you are called to be doing. Staying focused kills the Good Idea Fairy.
So if you know what God has called you to, then stay focused. Don’t find another “good idea” while hiking the trail. You started for what God called you to do. Finish strong knowing that you didn’t give into the good ideas.
Miller, David. AWOL on the Appalachian Trail. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2011. 94