[I am excited to have another guest blog by my friend Joey. He is someone I admire in many ways and commend this article and his books to you.]
By Joey LeTourneau
Many years ago my dad was in the middle of a successful and advancing television career. He was a news anchor for a major affiliate and the roads ahead were promising. But God was calling, and my dad couldn’t help but listen. He was being called out of the world and into ministry. But, he was certainly conflicted. It wasn’t until he sat in church one week and heard the Pastor declare, “You can climb the ladder of success your whole life only to find that it was propped against the wrong building.” That was his clincher. He wept tears of joy and surrender the rest of the service while my mom squeezed his hand, all the while knowing that ladder was being taken down and removed.
Today more than ever people are finding their purpose or position in ministry. I’d venture to say that such a career or life choice isn’t portrayed as it once was. I personally have grown up in it. It used to seem like the greatest of sacrifice, abandoning your pursuit of success to trust God, and it often still is. There are countless whom I would like to honor for such, known and unknown. But, I don’t think that decision is always the same today. I’d even go as far to say that sometimes, going into ministry or missions carries the prospect of a lot more glamour and even “sex-appeal” than it once did. Which makes me ask the question, have we gotten rid of that ladder of success, or have we simply propped it up against a different building?
Thirty years ago when my dad went through such a transition he was being called out of the world and into ministry. But, now, what if God is calling people out of ministry and into the world? What if we are being called to leave our ministry ladder’s of success behind and trust Him to bring such impactful dreams alive in different, but greater ways, in the world?
Look at Joseph. The ultimate dreamer! If anyone held onto his calling, if anyone persevered—it was Joseph. He was trashed and traded, abandoned and accused. Yet, still, he held onto that dream and believed God—with integrity—in a way that few would. But, he was holding on to a limited dream. God wanted to do more. God planned to bring Joseph’s calling to life in a different place—and method—than Joseph would have ever dreamed on his own. Sometimes we have to let go of dreams to see them come alive. Then, we get to see God—a Father—who is full of the best kinds of surprises!
Joseph dreamed of honor and success among his family and nation. He dreamed of how he could, and would, impact familiar Israel. But it wasn’t the familiar who brought that dream to life. In fact, it was Pharaoh that God used to recognize the Spirit and potential in Joseph’s life. It was a worldly leader of a worldly nation who called out the Spirit in Joseph, who recognized what few had been able to see. Joseph waited and watched for the opportunity to impact Israel. But God wanted to elevate him in Egypt so He could multiply such dreams and impact to the nations—including Israel.
How many Joseph’s are out there right now, with their ladder of success propped up against a dream that is perhaps less than what God is dreaming on your behalf? How many Joseph’s are actually fighting off Egypt instead of receiving their kingdom calling within it?
Like Pharaoh, the world is waiting for those who will walk with integrity and honor the Spirit, and those who will do so in the world. The Spirit within us waits to re-interpret the dreams of the world the way light re-interprets darkness. But that requires us to find value in the prisons and palaces of Egypt.
Many future leaders God planned to use were once keeping up with the Jones’ in the world only to be called somewhere else. But now, I can’t help but wonder how many of us are trying to keep up with the Jones’ in ministry, and actually missing our opportunity to live such to the world in renewed ways. God sees differently than we do, and when we surrender to such we’ll get to see dreams come alive that are beyond what is familiar to us, dreams that God will actually multiply much further. The world needs our dreams to expand, and the story of Joseph shows us that God is willing.
We often look back at those heroes of faith like Joseph with narrow vision, celebrating the promotion that finally came through perseverance. But we forget the humanity of such leaders. How hard must it have been for Joseph to accept a promotion that was contrary to the dream he had held onto? How hard must it have been for Joseph to say yes to the world when his ladder was propped against the familiarity of how he perceived his calling? How hard is it for you or I to accept the calling God is offering over the one we thought we wanted? I am Joseph, and thankfully, God continues to re-interpret my dreams.
Jesus left the 99 to go after the 1. But will we leave the one—self—as well as whatever ladder it is we climb and go out into the world to love the 99? When we minister to someone they might get loved, but when we love them, they always get ministered to. That’s what the world is waiting for, a form of missions where we cast down all ladders and use them instead to bridge unnecessary gaps and cross over seas. Instead of God simply fulfilling our dream, perhaps we’ll also join Him in fulfilling His—that the world may believe! Here am I, send me—even, and especially, when it is different than expected. And by the way, Egypt is beautiful!
Joey LeTourneau works with Heavenly Hope Ministries to coordinate MARK 10:14, a movement focused on gathering the poor, broken, and empty children of Ethiopia and beyond into the Father’s arms. He travels worldwide empowering the Body of Christ to draw near to their First Love. You can purchase his books, Revolutionary Freedom & The Life Giver, by following the links provided.