He was a business executive and he was weeping. Violently.
One week prior, after yelling and screaming at God about everything he had bottled up inside, he decided to not only step down from his position of leadership, but to entirely leave his company where he had invested more than 10 years of blood, sweat, and tears. He was drained, exhausted, and worried about finances. He told me nothing was working. Fear and anger shook his body, and he was done. Just done.
Daily I work with influencers, leaders, and world changers—those on the front lines of world change. Some are running billion dollar companies, some are changing nations, and some are leading local ministries. Each one of these men and women struggle to hear God’s voice, having no idea what God is really doing in their lives. At their core, almost so central to who they are and how they operate that they don’t even recognize it, is the insecurity that they are not good enough or are not doing enough. They’re all wound up, constantly trying to hold on to what they have or relentlessly trying to get more. These are all manifestations of fear.
They go, go, go and simply do not know how to be, how to rest. Resting may not even appeal to them because it sounds unproductive. And if they’re unproductive, they feel worthless. They are fighting the fear that they have no value apart from their striving. This busyness that stems from fear is a thief. It steals not only their ability to rest, but their ability to clearly hear God’s voice. Can you relate?
When a frenzied place is your norm and God’s voice is silent, or muffled at best, you cannot enter into your inheritance, the fullness of all that God has for you in your calling. Ephesians 1:11 says, “In him we have obtained an inheritance, being predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will.” No matter how impressive your sphere of influence, the Lord’s inheritance cannot be yours when you cannot hear Him.
This inheritance is a gift. But just like the Israelites wandering in the wilderness, we also can fail to enter into the Promised Land. It happens when we slouch, when our posture is bad. Jesus clarifies for us a way to posture ourselves in order to receive all that is in Him for us. As He says in John 15:4-5, this posture is one of abiding: “Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.”
The definition of abide is to dwell, to live, to remain. In what are you dwelling, living, and remaining on a daily basis?
When your wheels are spinning and your soul is anxious, rest is far from you. And you may not even want rest because you believe it will wage war with your productivity, which you believe is the source of your value. But what if there was a better way? What if you could experience rest so rich and deep and nourishing, that it actually fueled your productivity? Even better, that it would fuel your influence and streamline your efforts? No one wants to work harder. We all want to work smarter. What if rest is the very key that will unleash your dream?
Good news. This is exactly what God the Father wants for you, too.
Three keys are essential to unlocking God’s great favor and abundance in your life and work, to enjoying greater peace, productivity, and fruitfulness. It starts with rest and ends in fullness. After I coached my new business executive friend through these steps, within two months he was a changed man. He decided to stay in his position at his company. With clarified vision and renewed energy, a few months later his direct reports began conveying to him increased productivity and morale in their employees. The fruit of a single changed heart produced even more tangible fruit.
“This is what the Sovereign Lord, the Holy One of Israel, says: ‘In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength, but you would have none of it’” (Isaiah 30:15).
Rest is the first step in abiding. Your soul must be at rest in order to hear and receive from the Lord. A soul that trusts in who God is, is in rest.
Foundational to rest is the assurance of who God is, that He is good, He is love, and He can be trusted. When you know that God can be trusted you stop striving. You taste what it means to abide.
“God is love.” (1 John 4:8)
“Perfect love casts out fear.” (1 John 4:18)
“All who live in love live in God, and God lives in them.” (1 John 4:16)
“Anyone who loves is a child of God and knows God.” (1 John 4:7)
In this place of abiding in Him and in His love you have no fear because you hear His voice, and you know what He thinks about you. Romans 8:38 becomes a living reality and you are confident in your identity as His son or daughter: “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
So, what do you know about Him? What do you believe about who He is? Forget any head knowledge about God that you’ve acquired. What do you really believe in your being about who He is? This is the most important question of your life.
Identify an area of your life where you have no rest. Then ask Jesus, “What do I not know about you here? What aspect of Your nature have I misunderstood?” If you are worried, anxious, or fearful in any area of your life it is because there is something about God you do not actually know. As He reveals to you what you do not know about Him, daily begin to confess the truth of who He is. Find truth about His character in His Word. Then sit with Him. Be uncomfortable in the silence, in the stillness. And from a grateful heart begin to thank Him for who He is. Rest starts with continually remembering who God really is, that He is good, and He loves you.
To receive anything you must first understand that you are in need of something, that you lack. And that is never fun to confess, particularly when you lead multiples of people. But pride is the enemy. It’s not only from the enemy, it invites God to oppose you, too (James 4:6)!
When we strip away pride we see that we are in desperate need of God. Without Him no good thing dwells in us. Jesus says in John 15:5, “Apart from me you can do nothing.”
Receiving in any form requires humility. Someone who is already full cannot be filled, and cannot receive. Someone who thinks they already know, cannot hear. Those who don’t know what was given at the cross live as orphans and are constantly trying to get something they think they need. This is a “poverty spirit,” which is very different from “poor in spirit,” a posture prized by Jesus (Matthew 5:3). A poverty spirit is from fear. Poor in spirit is realizing the truth that we need, but knowing everything we need is in Him. We don’t look to try to get anything; rather, we posture ourselves before Him in truth knowing everything we need is in Him and is Him. He is the all sufficient One; He is the good leader who knows the way and already has every solution and answer we need.
Though Jesus has already become our provision from God through the cross for everything we would ever need, when we surrender completely to the truth of our need for Him, with thanksgiving and gratitude, we posture ourselves to hear, receive, and make room for that truth to manifest in our lives.
After you have spent time in the presence of the Lord and your heart is at rest by seeing who He is, you will be open and aligned with Him. From this place you are postured to receive grace that is needed for every situation. You will begin to hear Him more clearly and receive the good things that are stored up in His heart for you. Asking the right questions is key. Try asking questions in agreement with who He is. For example, try asking, “God, what solution do you already have for this situation?” Or, “God, how have you already supplied for me here?”
These questions are in agreement with His nature, the generous One who has already given everything we need for life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3). Ask questions in agreement with His good and gracious nature.
When you are at rest, hearing and receiving from God the Father, you then come into responding. While you are a leader in your area of influence, you were not created to be the leader. You were created to follow, to be responsive. You were created to follow the leadership of Jesus, to respond to what He says and does. Just as Jesus only said what His Father was saying, and did what He saw his Father doing (John 5:19), you are called to walk the same way. We respond to the Shepherd’s voice, knowing He is a good leader. And we move only by His voice.
Are you tired of trying to get God to do what you want? Or even of trying to get God to do what He showed you He would do? What if you could instead discern what doors are open for you and you began walking through them, instead of trying to knock down doors? Take courage. He already made a way for you, giving you everything in advance at the cross. You don’t have to try to get Him to do anything. He already did it.
What strategies, insights, and solutions could be within reach if you ceased trying to obtain them by your own strength? What doors are open to you right now? How is He leading you forward? Look at Him, watch Him, listen to Him from the trusted position of rest. Receive Him, receive His Word, receive His grace for what you need now. Then you will be filled to overflowing, equipped to go and do the good works that were prepared for you before the foundation of the world.