Monday, May 11, 2009

A Bright Future

I get numerous comments at the end of our worship services while greeting people in the lobby. We had a big crowd here yesterday which meant lots of comments (mostly all good ones) but one stuck out at me:

"You've got a bright future ahead of you young man."

He had generous compliments on the service & my message but I couldn't quit thinking about that particular sentence all day long. One sweet lady told me if I ever preached a better sermon I would have to work real hard b/c she loved it...that lifted me up but I already had this previous comment burned into my mind.

Was I encouraged by it? Yes & no.

Yes, because it means God used me to have an impact on his life during the service & knowing I did good for God's glory meant something.

No, because as much as I want a bright future what I'm striving for daily in my ministry is a bright present. The future isn't guaranteed & God has called me to be a difference maker NOW. The future needs to have bright potential b/c if it doesn't then either I'm not doing a good job or I've maxed out my potential & my potential needs to continue to increase until I get to heaven!

I don't know about you, but I'm not going to patiently sit & wait on my bright future, I'm going to give it my all to shine bright today & hope for the opportunity to shine bright tomorrow.

(Disclaimer: I don't over-analyze every comment. I need to be encouraged & take genuine compliments to heart. And I hope he was right about my future.)

Friday, May 8, 2009

Missed Opportunities

Flying home from the Thr3e conference in North Carolina last week put on by Elevation Church I had the privilege of sitting next to a young man my age who was flying back home on business. We small-talked some & then I decided I wasn't going to miss my opportunity to witness to him (sad to say like I do more often than not). He claimed growing up Catholic. I proceeded to ask what the Catholic church believes about Heaven. I could tell he didn't have a solid belief in much of anything though he said before this he was "spiritual" and prayed some but that was it. His intention was to get back in church once they had children.

We had a good & interesting conversation about various things as I used every opportunity to interject about my faith & Christianity. I finally got bold & at one point asked what they believed about Jesus. He quickly became uncomfortable & as I pursued an answer he very politely & uncomfortably said he would rather not talk any more about it & that he had some work to do on his computer. I almost forced a speed of light salvation talk on him but chose to remain quiet.

He initiated some more conversation about general stuff but never ventured near spiritual issues again. After getting off the plane I shook his hand, asked his name again & wished him well. Walking out of the airport I was BUMMED. I missed another opportunity b/c I was a coward & couldn't come out & boldly say what I needed to.

Sitting in bed I shared my guilt & frustration w/ Erin. She quickly changed the tone of the conversation & informed me I did the best I could & forcing it upon him probably would have done more harm than good. I didn't believe her at first, but her wisdom (thank God I have a wife who many times gives a fresh & insightful perspective) helped me process that encounter & maybe she was right.

I shared this w/ our men's group at church this week & shared my disappointment & I was overwhelmed at their disbelief in my seemingly missed opportunity. They were pumped up & encouraged feeling as if I was sensitive to the Holy Spirit & not overbearing, leaving this young man w/ a positive encounter w/ a Christian who cared about him & respected him.

A seed was planted & now prayers are being offered for this man to encounter Jesus in some way. Could I have done more...maybe. But I laid the foundation for the next person who cares enough about his life to share Jesus w/ him. I was a compassionate friend who didn't show judgment or disrespect.

Be BOLD in sharing your faith. Fear not, God will give you the courage & the dialogue. At the same time, realize every seed you plant God may one day choose to water & sprout to life.