Providence is seldom early…

I was listening to Pandora as worked yesterday. As I listened a familiar song came on. One of its lines arrested my attention, “providence…[is] seldom early, never late.” Providence is God’s fatherly care and guidance of his children. In a larger sense, it’s God’s rule of the world. As the Westminster Shorter Catechism puts it:

Q. 11. What are God’s works of providence?
A. God’s works of providence are, his most holy, wise, and powerful preserving and governing all his creatures, and all their actions.

Providence is God’s action in the world. And so the line takes on special significance when understood in this light. God seldom acts early, but he never acts too late. As you consider your life, your sense of direction and purpose, the challenges that you’re experiencing or those around you are experiencing–take comfort that though God rarely acts early, he never acts late.

Why God created the world

[T]he creation of all good things in the world for the benefit and enjoyment of humans is not…an end in itself, but is rather the way God initially reveals to humankind that he is the author and fountain of every good thing. Our use and enjoyment of the good things of creation is not intended by God to be an end in itself, but is rather the way God allures and invites us to seek him as the source of every good thing.”

Randall Zachman, “The Universe as the Living Image of God” in Oliver D. Crisp, Retrieving Doctrine: Essays in Reformed Theology (IVP 2013).

What is real influence?

It’s been a slow week here at jeffgissing.com. My family is in San Diego enjoying some vacation time and celebrating the wedding of my brother-in-law. It has been a fun week–Balboa Park, San Diego Zoo, the Science Museum!

This week I’ve been reading Mel Lawrenz’s Spiritual Influence: The Hidden Power behind Leadership. It’s a great book and is helping me get to the heart of what ministry leadership is–something that I explored last week in a couple of posts. Ministry leadership is, in its essence, a function of discipleship. If a leader is not a disciple, her leadership rests on sand rather than bedrock.

20130420-100055.jpg

Here’s how Lawrenz puts it:

“[Great Christian leaders] know that they’re not the real influencers, but that they are being used by God, who brings enduring, transforming influence in peoples’ lives.”

He later writes:

“Leadership that is entirely self-directed [as opposed to God-directed] will always be pathological….spiritual leadership is an extension of discipleship.”

Most of us are prone to excess in this area.

We either think that ‘leadership’ is a bad thing and we avoid it or we valorize it. The problem with this approach is, of course, that Scripture bears testimony to the importance of using one’s spiritual gifts for the purpose of edifying and building up the body in ways that specifically employ our gifts.

On the other hand, many of us go further than Scripture to become obsessed with leadership. As Lawrenz points out in his book, there is no generic term in Scripture for leadership. Leadership is ever and always linked to participation in the mission of God in a specific and concrete way. Leadership is not abstract and ephemeral, it is concrete and involved getting your hands dirty in mission.