The root issue

I had this sudden epiphany today. However, to get to it, I will need to give some background.

Six years ago when I reached the rock bottom point of my life due to cancer, I did not know how long I had to live. While I had made repeated deals with God (do this and I will do that) before that I had virtually never kept, I realized, at that point, that I probably should not make another deal with God that I could not keep, so I made the closest thing to it. I had looked back at the 21 years of life that I had had so far and realized just how much time I had wasted. I came to realize that probably all of the good that had come from my life could have probably occurred in a year or two and the rest was just a waste of living life for myself. At that point I really, truly realized just how empty and narcissistic my life was and was thoroughly broken and wept at how I had wasted it (yes, that is right - I had a mid-life crises at the age of 21). At that point I essentially vowed that however long I had to live that it would be lived for God as well as to leave a permanent impact into the lives around me rather than for self. While I have blown numerous promises to the Lord (and still am perfectly capable of blowing this one), I would have to say that the Lord has been very merciful in not letting me get too far off track thusfar.

Now then, today at the School of the Supernatural, Danny Silk addressed the student body on the importance of living in a wealthy mindset instead of a poverty mindset - which as he noted, has very little to do with money. The poverty mindset lives life to survive or have pleasure for oneself. A big screen tv is nice because it gets admiration. So is a nice car, a good sense of humor, a significant other that is considered a catch, seeing God do a miracle through oneself, and so forth. It is truly a narcissistic reality. The wealthy mindset does not mind having nice things, but the focus of their life is much more about leaving a legacy to impact lives. They are not simply concerned with the here and now and survival. While they do care about the present and those in their vicinity, their ultimate goal is to impact the lives around them and to leave a legacy that impacts generations. Danny's challenge was to change one's mindset. That is when things made sense. God could care very little about empowering a person who is using Him to walk in pride. They will probably see Him work very little. However, God does love to flow through faith operating through love. This is the wealthy mindset.

When I thought back to some (note: not all) of the different people that I was invited to speak into their lives who are interested in going into ministry, I realized that I thought that by virtue of their going into ministry that they had come to this place of realizing that ministry is not about preaching a sermon to get admiration or trying to get God to show them something cool or do something cool to impress the people around them with. I simply could not understand why some people made the choices they made (wasting tons of time on entertainment and things of no lasting value, wasting tons of money on things that are only to get others attention, and so forth), until I realized that these people in ministry are still living in the poverty mindset. Their desires for ministry have far, far more to do with people seeing them than about seeing God touch the lives of those around them. This is clearly obvious by how they do not back their choice with their time and resources. This is such a fundamental issue. I think I counseled people on a lot more peripheral issues when the core issues of loving God and loving others were not their ultimate desire (meaning this is what controlled them, not their feelings, happiness, hormones, and so forth). To try to communicate someone how doing this or that is of value when they value pleasure for self more than leaving a legacy does not work because the two sides are simply talking in completely different languages. Often times, they would simply feel guilty like they needed to be doing more, but not want to do so because that would deprive them of pleasure in some other area. Consequently, they were torn because they still lived for self and only wanted God to be apart of their lives to the extent that was either a) fun (like missions trips that are fun), b) they felt guilted into, or c) they had nothing better to do. I often could not fathom why people approached God and others the way they did while completely deluding themselves into thinking they were ministering to others, but now I realized that the ultimate desire of their heart and what they truly lived for had very little to do with God (although they thought so). Until one's heart is sold out to the Lord, time with Him will likely only be based on guilt, if one feels like it, or some form of manipulation to get something out of Him. And they will probably be at least somewhat frustrated with how they feel God is holding out on them.

I think this class (I wrote this for seminary) really helped me to come to this realization. As we have studied the life of Jesus over and over, one can see how this man was gripped by a thorough passion for God and those that the Lord led Him to minister to. This would be the only thing that would cause someone to go 40 days without food or water, face intense persecution, and eventually get crucified. Clearly, the desire of Jesus' life in every aspect that we have studied (and I could go through each one but this is getting long), was to leave an impact on the people that He came in contact with. As ministers of the Gospel, if we expect the Lord to annoint and empower us, this must be the same. One has to realize that there is a far greater pleasure than the praise of man or the things of this world. While there are nothing wrong with these things, they pale in comparison to the joy of knowing in greater intimacy the God of the universe or seeing Him radically change another's life.