In January 2013 I enrolled at Hillsong International Leadership College in Sydney, Australia. I’m from a small town of 4000 people in Switzerland, and had moved to a huge city where millions of people live. I was studying leadership for the first time, yet I already thought I knew a lot.
One thing I really remember is the attitude I had at the time. As I enrolled, I was thinking things like: “I`m going to show off and I will be the best.“ “I’ll show them what life really is about!” and “I`m going to speak on platform all the time!”
It didn’t take me long to realise that a guy like me coming from a small town actually had no idea about life, especially compared to those who had already seen the world or had come from bigger cities and countries.
During my three years at college, things were very different to how I had thought they would be! I was the quiet guy who didn’t say much in class. Instead of me showing others what life was, they mostly had to teach me how to do life.I spoke on the big platform just once, and that was when I least wanted to and wasn’t expecting to.
Have you ever approached a new role, job or leadership position with a prideful attitude?
I know I have often come into a new place, role or position with an attitude of “I`m going to take over everything.” Then later on I realise that actually the ones who do lead and take over are the ones I least expected to do so.
In today’s blog I want to share about permission. Not the kind of permission where we have to wait until we have everything together in order to do great things. No, I mean the permission that comes from God to do the things He calls us to do in His perfect timing.
In the Bible we read two stories about a man named Peter. In the first story Peter talked about following Jesus with everything, even being prepared to die, although he fails to do this not long after their conversation. In the second story Jesus asks Peter to do great things for His kingdom three times, but this time round Peter is very reluctant.
I feel like I have had a similar attitude to Peter at times.Here are two things I want to share with you that I learned from these stories about Peter.
1. It’s not about you
Simon Peter asked, “Lord, where are you going?” And Jesus replied, “You can’t go with me now, but you will follow me later.” “But why can’t I come now, Lord?” he asked. “I’m ready to die for you.” Jesus answered, “Die for me? I tell you the truth, Peter—before the rooster crows tomorrow morning, you will deny three times that you even know me.
John 13: 36-38 (MSG)
Peter thought he had everything together for following Jesus. But as we read in the passage, the next morning Peter denied that he knew Jesus three times! Jesus didn`t only want Peter to follow him with his words, but with selfless actions as well. Likewise Jesus challenges us to follow Him selflessly with all that we have and all that we are!
I don`t know about you but there are times when I’m just like Peter and I think, “Yes, I have it altogether!” about particular tasks or situations. However, as soon as I take the first step to getting things done, I realise that there is so much more required spiritually and mentally, sometimes even physically, more than I previously thought.
The fact is, it`s never about ourselves when it comes to a particular position, task or calling! I often imagine God putting together a puzzle. The puzzle represents His plan for restoring the whole universe. Since the world began many people have lived their lives already, there are currently 7.6 billion people alive and that number will only increase in the future. Each one of us is a little puzzle piece in the restoration plan God has. Regardless of our position, job, background, race or income everyone has a part to play in God’s big picture.
2. Perfect timing
Not long after the first story happened, we read of this conversation between Jesus and Peter:
After breakfast Jesus asked Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?” “Yes, Lord,” Peter replied, “you know I love you.” “Then feed my lambs,” Jesus told him.Jesus repeated the question: “Simon son of John, do you love me?” “Yes, Lord,” Peter said, “you know I love you.”“Then take care of my sheep,” Jesus said. A third time he asked him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” Peter was hurt that Jesus asked the question a third time. He said, “Lord, you know everything. You know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Then feed my sheep.”
John 21:15-17 (MSG)
The Peter we read about here is different to the one in the first story. In this passage we read that Peter was hurt by the questions Jesus asked him.I believe that the pain Peter experienced was because he was seeing a reflection of his true self–the Peter that knows he doesn`t have it all together! Here I picture a Peter who is reluctant, shy, uncomfortable and not ready yet to start the task he is being given.
It`s often in times when we least expect or when we think we aren`t ready that God calls us to something greater! He gives us permission to get started when we don`t think we are ready. He wants us to step out at the point when we don`t think we have it all together. And often times, He calls us to something when we are at our weakest or He puts us in a situation where all our weaknesses are revealed!
All He wants us to do is to surrender completely to Him. Not just in times when we feel it but also when we are at our worst! It`s God that gives permission and at the perfect time. The permission He gives is not the same permission we give ourselves!
You might feel right now that you have everything together, and that`s great. Keep going but don`t be surprised if things get harder than you imagined! If you currently feel out of your depth, rely on God`s grace and strength. He will lead you to the most perfect places when you allow Him to give permission in His perfect timing.