by Pastor Tim Burt
People have asked me many times over the years, Pastor Burt, you often talk about God directing your path in life. How does He do that for you?
People too often let their life be led by their feelings. Letting your life be directed by your feelings would be disastrous, confusing, and lead you in circles. You can’t trust your feelings. You can trust God’s word and God’s promises—despite your feelings. And so the primarily way God directs our lives is through His Word. His Word comes to us in many different ways such as reading your Bible, hearing your Pastor preach, sharing scriptures with each other in small groups, and many more. And God gives us Core Values—values based on the word of God. These core values keep us from wandering away from Him and instead, moving down the road of His perfect will.
God’s Word encourages you to get a vision for your life. It’s critical when thinking of vision, that you know that God’s will is to fulfill His master plan in the earth while fulfilling His will for your life at the same time. And He usually leads us one step at at time with glimpses and desires of things ahead so that we can plan and set goals to work toward the things He shows us. That isn’t just something you’ve romanticized about. Nor is it something you suddenly make up or decide on a whim. It’s not just something that seems fun to do. No, God has gifted you with particular gifts and talents designed to help you fulfill His will in your life and in doing so, help fulfill God’s will in this earth! He gives us vision – things that He places in our heart that He wants us to pursue. Some of those things won’t feel like an impression of the heart, but more like exhortation to walk out the season you’re but with great excellence. Some of those things will seem so mondane you struggle believing that it’s a part of God’s will.
When I think about vision, I’m thinking more about the next 3 to 5 years. I may have big ideas about what I think God wants me to do, but unless I build a more immediate plan taking steps to head down that path, I’ll only end up becoming a foolish dreamer about what I believe God wants me to do. Proverbs 14:18 (MSG) says, “Foolish dreamers live in a world of illusion; wise realists plant their feet on the ground.”
When we read the story of Joseph in the book of Genesis, we see that God gave Joseph a glimpse of his future. Joseph knew he had to learn to be obedient, diligent and fruitful in what God had put before him. It looked bleak for years but it proved out to be the path for Joseph becoming ruler over Egypt under Pharaoh. Part of Joseph’s path was thriving under slavery and unjustly being locked up in prison. Few would think that was a part of God’s plan, but Joseph believed that as he was diligent in obeying God, that He would end up in God’s perfect will. And he did!
We don’t know all of the backstory about Joseph. Only what the scriptures reveal. We only know that the Lord had shown Him a dream about becoming a great ruler and his own family bowing down to Him. He shared that with his family and it made his brothers jealous to the point where they hated him. But Joseph couldn’t have been focused on what his brothers thought. I say that because Joseph became a man of great character that had already been developed before he was thrown into a pit by His brothers and then sold into slavery. When his brothers would see him they would say, “Here comes the dreamer!” Genesis 37:19 (NLT2). Joseph was skilled and his character already very refined so that when he was sold into slavery, and bought by Potiphar, he was immediately known as a man of skill, impeccable character, and became one who successfully bore great fruit for his master.
Sometimes we have the opportunity in making choices of what we are going to put our hand to. And sometimes, not so much! Sometimes we don’t seem to have latitude in our choices. God knows our state of affairs in the moment we’re in and will give us favor and grace regardless of how trapped or boxed in we might seem to be. God will help us to be obedient to Him in following His ways, and diligent and fruitful so that character can be built and promotion can come in time.
I was married and had four children and didn’t have many options. I had to provide for our family doing many things that weren’t exactly fun. But I could be diligent and fruitful trusting I was walking in God’s favor. And If I thought God had something in the future He wanted me to work toward, then I took steps for the next few years studying, or learning and doing what I needed to know for where I thought God was leading me. That is how vision works! I learned that God uses everything He is presently teaching me for things that lie ahead in my future. Nothing is wasted! Working toward succeeding at short term goals shapes and matures you for your future and helps you fulfill God’s will.
Joseph faced moments of doubt like we all do, but, he conquered them believing that God had a future for Him. Do you believe God has a future for you? If so, then seeking God for vision is important. Seeking God for what He wants you to grow in and work toward over the next few years is an important core value. And God will lead you as you pray and ask Him to.
When I met Renee, I was a recreational runner often running 5 to 7 miles a day. But then God led me to run a marathon. He used a brother in the Lord to challenge me. At first I thought, No way! But as I prayed, I couldn’t shake thinking about it. I knew God was dealing with me. God spoke to my heart telling me it would develop great mental strength. Mental strength? I thought this would be about physical strength! I accepted the challenge. Little did I know that it would feel almost like an impossible mental and physical task. I could only keep pressing toward the goal of running 26.2 miles. And I did! And I ended up running 5 Marathons over the next 7 years. Why did God lead me to run them? Because the mental strength that it took to run them was even greater than the physical strength. And the challenges of responsibilities that were yet to come in my future would take incredible mental strength. I helped our church grow from a couple thousand people to ten thousand people and my management skills, people skills, communication skills, and much more where pushed to their limits. That mental strength to keep pushing through the challenges I faced and not quit, helped me become successful at all I put my hand to.
Vision is critical. Looking ahead and working toward goals is critical. When you do, you’ll look back and see just how much God was with you helping you at every step!
Five core values are what God helped me follow the direction God had for my life. Vision is the first core value that helped me discover the plan God had for my life! It’s a core value He wants us all to seek Him for and He knows just how to speak to you if you’ll seek Him. So do it! I’ll be sharing the other core values in the posts to come!
Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV) “ For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
In His Love,
Pastor Tim Burt