Each morning I quote my life verse found in the John 17 “high priestly prayer” of Christ. What Jesus says in verse 4 is ultimately fulfilled in Him, and I pray will be partially fulfilled in me – “I have brought You glory on earth by completing the work you gave me to do.” After quoting the verse, I ask three questions to set the tone for my day:
- · Who gets the glory? “I have brought YOU glory on earth…”
- · Who sets the finish line? “…by completing the work…”
- · Who gives the assignments? “…You gave me to do.”
Added to my life verse is an annual verse – in 2013, “Be very careful, then, how you live – not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity…” (Ephesians 5:15-16a).
I’m increasingly convinced we don’t create opportunities – God is already at work and He invites us to join Him. While we don’t create opportunities, we steward them – we seek to make the most of them. As stewards, we leverage the opportunities. Biblically, we don’t simply wait for opportunities to come along – we make the most of the ones we currently have, even if they seem insignificant. “Whoever can be trusted with little can be trusted with much…” (Luke 16:10). Every once in a while the words of the prophet Zechariah need to ring in my ears, “Who dares to despise the day of small things…” (Zechariah 4:6). Making the most of even modest opportunities positions us to be trusted by God with greater opportunity.
My tendency is to see opportunities everywhere, and the resulting “opportunity overload” can be debilitating. Here’s some steps I’m learning to take in making the most of opportunities, whether in my personal life or ministry endeavors.
- How is God leading? Invite God to reveal each day where He is creating opportunities, and how He is prioritizing opportunities. If it enter the day with this perspective I’m relieved of the burden of having to make things happen in my own strength.
- What will I be missing or neglecting? Be realistic about the “opportunity cost.” To say yes to one thing is to say no to another – we cannot do it all. Pause to think about the trade-off – as creatures we live within the boundaries of time and space, and those limits force us to make choices best made intentionally rather than inadvertently.
- How does it fit my wiring? In the words of Romans 12:3, we need “sober judgment” and a “measure of faith” to assess our gifts, motivations, strengths and resources for a goodness of fit with how God has created us. The question is NOT – does it fit my comfort zones? Opportunity often takes us into new and unfamiliar territory.
- How would I “make the case” to others? At this point discipline meets desire. I discipline myself write out an initial draft of a “case statement” of what I believe the opportunity to be, and then seek formative input from others.
While writing this blog post an e-mail notice popped up on my screen. Joanne Solis-Walker, Director of Latino Latina Education for Wesley Seminary at IWU, was giving an update on a historic step – the initial course at our first international intensive site. She was writing from Bogota, Colombia, where 17 students were gathered to begin our Spanish Master of Divinity degree. Not too long ago I was working with others on a case statement for the Colombian cohort (full copy available upon request) that addressed:
- The greater purpose being pursued – why at all? It is ultimately rooted in the Great Commission and specifically shaped by the conviction of our Seminary’s namesake that “the world is our parish.”
- The urgency of this opportunity – why now?
- Why Colombia?
- What steps are to be taken?
- What resources are required?
What was written then is reality now. While the answers may be brief, this discipline tends to either validate the opportunity or expose it as a “passing fancy.” You cannot fully anticipate the full answers to the questions, but it alerts you what needs to be considered in “making the most of every opportunity.”
Is opportunity knocking?