Years ago I was traveling to a meeting and had to fly because of the distance. I took some reading material with me, including some correspondence. Since I had already ferreted through the junk mail pile only a handful of letters remained. After the plane took off I began to plow through it.
One note was from a church in Ohio with which I was familiar, a large, thriving ministry on the outskirts of a college campus. It captured my attention as the writer, the chairman of a pulpit committee, got right to the point. They were looking for a pastor and had been given my name as a possible candidate.
About a decade later I received a phone call from a church in a beautiful city in Florida. They, too, were looking for a pastor and somehow my name was given to them. (I have never sent resumes to other ministries).
From a “success” perspective both were a “promotion” in terms of metrics (size of the church, greater visibility, probably more financial security). My wife, Paula loves warm weather, particularly Florida, and from a “comfort” standpoint it would have been a nice opportunity.
Though I was grateful for both inquiries (it is good to be wanted, I suppose), I communicated with both churches and let them know I wasn’t interested and wished them the best.
Some decisions are easy at a casual glance, but what about one that appears to be a slam dunk? Are we simply to take a new job, move to a new location, make a transition because it looks to be something special? What factor does a fresh opportunity play in making wise choices?
Decision-making is an important skill to learn and to teach your children. I believe this, the quality of your life is in direct proportion to the quality of decisions you make. If we believe that we ought to engage our kids as they grow older in how to make wise choices.
You’ve heard the old adage: give a man a fish and feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and feed him for a lifetime. The same is true as we equip our children in decision-making. Make the decisions for your child and help him for a day; help him to learn to make wise decisions and help him for a lifetime.
One of the times they will need guidance is in what to do when a big opportunity comes their way. These opportunities come after our children are out of our home.
A synonym for an opportunity in the Bible is “an open door”. For example, to one church God said, “…I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it…” (Revelation 3:8) A door that is open refers to an opportunity; a closed door obviously refers to no chance to move forward.
One definition of opportunity is “a favorable juncture of circumstances”. That is, everything on the surface looks great.
The most important issue about an open door is that God is behind it. In the Scripture above it is God that opens doors and He will keep them open in spite of a person’s efforts to close them.
In our culture it is admirable to keep on pushing and kicking until the door finally yields. However, in making wise decisions we can create an “opportunity” that is not of God and the result of our own stubbornness and desires. If the desired door isn’t open we just kick it open and then walk through it.
Circumstances, opportunities, and open doors are part of determining God’s will for one’s life and making wise decisions. However, they are not the sole determining factor.
In recent posts I have given three questions to ask yourself that your choices might be wise. This deals with the fourth question below:
- What does the Bible say?
- What do my counselors say?
- What do my authorities say?
- What doors are open in my life?
Here’s the principle: God will use circumstances to give direction, but only when they are in balance with the other areas.
An open door alone is not necessarily indicative of a green light from God. The other questions filter, clarify and shape what we’re to do with an opportunity. If your heart is set on a specific result and you aren’t attentive to the other means of direction, God will grant it to you. And it will be a painful consequence.
Notice in the following passage what God wanted to do for His people, would have done and what happened when they rejected His counsel.
“But my people would not hearken to my voice; and Israel would none of me. So I gave them up unto their own hearts’ lust: and they walked in their own counsels. Oh that my people had hearkened unto me, and Israel had walked in my ways! I should soon have subdued their enemies, and turned my hand against their adversaries. The haters of the LORD should have submitted themselves unto him: but their time should have endured for ever. He should have fed them also with the finest of the wheat: and with honey out of the rock should I have satisfied thee.” (Psalm 81:11-16)
The painful consequences were not in something bad that happened to them so much as what they lost, God’s best for them. Failing to listen to God is costly, even when an opportunity looks choice and appears to be a promotion. The temptation is to assume it must be God’s will.
Three closing thoughts about open doors.
- Don’t equate an open door as always being from God. It is not a guarantee of God’s blessing. It may be a test or diversion from God’s best.
- Don’t reject the opportunity God has given to you presently looking for a bigger door. He may be preparing you for something bigger, but it is in His time to put you there. David had no idea he would be the King of Israel nor was he even seeking it. He was being faithful to the task of being a shepherd. God used those skills later in his life. Bloom where you’re planted and let God open the doors on your behalf.
- Don’t neglect an open door because you feel intimidated. He delights to show Himself strong in those that would fully trust Him (II Chronicles 16:9) and will enable you to do whatever He has called you to do. I almost missed God’s will because of fear; what He wanted me to do stretched me outside my comfort zone. Remember that God doesn’t call the equipped, He equips the called. At one time all of us felt inadequate as we considered the place God would have us to be.
Interpret your open doors through the Word of God, your counselors and your authorities and things will clear up for you.