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Born for Significance: Master the Purpose, Process, and Peril of Promotion

Born for Significance: Master the Purpose, Process, and Peril of Promotion

by Bill Johnson

Learn More | Meet Bill Johnson

Chapter 1

Welcome to the Conflicted Life

It is no secret that this glorious walk with Jesus is one of conflict, challenge, and, of course, extreme blessing. The conflict, however, is often within. In other words, it’s not only the external part of a life of hard circumstances or struggles with people. Much of the conflict is on the inside, as we try to learn how this life in Christ is supposed to work. Our way of thinking is quite different from what we find on the pages of Scripture, which reveals the mind of Christ. God’s way of thinking is completely different from ours, and He isn’t going to change. Not only does He often contradict what and how we think; He sometimes seems to be in conflict with Himself. That is a foolish conclusion, I know, and comes from human reasoning only. But it reveals at least part of the reason for our internal struggles in this conflicted life, as you can only live where you’ve died.

The Bible is filled with these examples, of which I will mention a few to give context. We find one great illustration of this conflict in Proverbs 26:4–5. He says, “Do not answer a fool according to his folly, lest you also be like him. Answer a fool according to his folly, lest he be wise in his own eyes” (NKJV). There they are, back-to-back verses commanding us to do opposite things. Don’t speak to the fool. Speak to the fool.

We find similar cases throughout Scripture. Here’s an example in the life of the apostle Paul. Jesus commanded His followers to go into the whole world and preach the gospel. And yet when Paul tried to go to Asia to carry out this commission, which is obviously a part of the whole world, the Holy Spirit said no. He was then directed in a dream to go to Macedonia. He openly obeyed a command only to be told no and was then redirected.

Another example is where Jesus instructed us to love our neighbors as we love ourselves. Self-love then seems to be a necessary part of effectively loving our neighbors. And yet in his letter to Timothy, Paul warned against those who in the last days would be lovers of self. So, do we love ourselves or not? These are not really contradictions, but they do remind us of our need to stay close to His heart to know what to do in a given situation.

Jesus, the Teacher

Jesus’ teaching often created these challenges. He taught us that in order to live, we would have to die. He required His followers to go last in order to be first, give to receive, and humble themselves to be exalted. He also taught that those who mourn would find joy and comfort, and the persecuted would be happy. (The word blessed means happy.) The list goes on and on. The main point we should be learning in this quandary is simple yet profound. The Word of God is best understood in relationship with God. The Bible is so much more than a book of principles that I can mimic to be successful. It is by nature an invitation to walk with the author. This is the only way I can know whether to answer the fool or not.

When it comes to how we should live, there is only so much we can extract from God’s Word without the Holy Spirit making it clear in the context of our connection with Him. And it is the Holy Spirit who enables us to do what we read. We can certainly learn about kindness, generosity, courage, and the like as we, through human reasoning, try to extract the principles for life from the pages of Scripture. But the power for personal transformation is found in a relationship with the One who is both the author and revealer of truth. My need for His input is more than daily. It is moment by moment. He lives in me, in part, for that reason.

What About Significance?

It can be said we must first discover our insignificance to discover our significance, knowing there is nothing we can do to save ourselves or improve our lives in light of eternity apart from God. We can’t get to heaven on our own. This puts us in a place of complete abandonment and trust, which is quite humbling. We can make decisions to improve our lives, but we can’t change our nature in any substantial way. We are marked by sin itself and need help from the outside to become free.

Many people work hard at developing proper self-esteem. The need is real and great. But since we were made in the image of God, our true self-worth comes from our understanding of Him and His nature. Seeing Him more clearly is what positions us to see ourselves from His point of view more clearly.

God did not create us because He needed us. That would make Him, who is eternal, incomplete for all of eternity past. God is without need and self-contained. He did not create us to satisfy His need; He has none. Instead, we were made from His dream, His desire. In light of that it can be said that the value or significance of something is determined by what someone is willing to pay. Considering that the Father gave His Son, and Jesus gave His life, and the Holy Spirit lives in imperfect vessels, there is reason to believe our value is far beyond our ability to comprehend. God Himself then underscores our significance quite heavily. Only in a relationship with Him do we find the singular pathway for this discovery.

Nice Try

Many who have caught glimpses of the victorious Christian life have, through the arm of flesh, built up their self-confidence, which is a poor copy of faith and triumph. Self-confidence is no greater than self. Real faith is as great as God and has its foundation in His nature and person. Such confidence in God then is superior to every other expression in life because it is founded in the person of God Himself. It is not built through striving. It comes entirely through surrender. It dwells in real humility, which is a far cry from self-criticism and condemnation. Real faith moves mountains and is the yielded partnership with His nature. I find significance and confidence when I discover that as a born-again believer, I am in Christ. Therein lies my significance. As a result, my significance is more substantial than I ever could have wished for myself before my surrender to this perfect Father.

We must admit that we see through a glass darkly, groping to find what has eluded us for generations: a clear understanding of the victory provided for us through the cross and resurrection that is to affect every area of life! Yes, of course, this must be seen in our victory over sin. But what about victory as it pertains to family life? Or maybe the way it is to be seen in our physical health, or even the taboo subject of finances? What about our mental and emotional health? What about the God-dreams connected with the call and purpose for our lives? And then there are the places of service to which God has called us outside of pulpit ministry and the wonderful area of traditional world missions. What does it look like for the believer to illustrate the resurrection power of Jesus in every part of life in our communities, including the marketplace? Is that even possible? Perhaps we should ask if it is even desirable.

I believe it is not only desirable but also required of this generation to pursue what has been out of view for centuries, that by God’s grace, this has been moved to the forefront in our pursuit of reformation, awakening, and renaissance. These three terms, often used interchangeably, describe different aspects of what is available to those who pursue their place of responsibility of the gospel in this hour. I love these themes as they give purpose to the significance of our role in society. My job is not to go to heaven; it is to bring heaven down, in whatever measure His will allows. This is accomplished through prayer and obedience.

Our Challenge

The question I then must ask is this: Is it possible to bear my cross and step into a place of resurrection life that illustrates a life of freedom in God? The term I will use throughout this book is reigning in life. Reigning in life is succeeding in a way that glorifies God through the realized effect of the death and resurrection of Christ. This concept is the key to understanding the Book of Proverbs, as all wisdom is given to equip us for reigning in life. Paul also addresses this subject in His discourse on our salvation in Romans 5:17: “Those who receive the abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ.” This is an essential aspect of our life in Christ. It illustrates the effect of His righteousness and grace on our broken but surrendered life.

So I ask again, what is blessing supposed to look like in the practical parts of life? Can it be measured in our personal life, our finances, our health, our position of influence, etc.? Is reigning in life supposed to play a role in the Great Commission? This seems to be a primary lesson in Psalms 67. It is a prayer for personal blessing, a favor, “that your way would be known on earth, and your salvation to the nations.” There it is: the great commission—salvation for nations.

My frustration is in the constant run-in with those who have greater faith in the return of Jesus than they do in the power of the gospel. His return will be great and glorious and is to be desired. But His return fixes nothing for the world, which is supposed to be our assignment and priority. It only serves us. We must regain our confidence in the power of the good news to transform a life, a family, a neighborhood, a city, a state, and a nation. If it can bring transformation to one of these elements in life, it can do it for all. And it must.

The Challenge of Extremes

On the one hand, we have those who believe that lack or poverty is the mark of spirituality. To them, Jesus had no place to lay His head and owned nothing but the clothes on His back, so if we own nothing, it is supposed to represent that we are genuine disciples. This logic breaks down quite easily in that it wasn’t taught in the writings of the apostles in the epistles. Neither was it practiced by the first-generation church, who had the most direct influence from Jesus and the apostles. This idea is based on one aspect of Jesus’ teaching without considering the rest. And quite strangely, those who live this way feed quite happily from the contributions of those with resources. This is hypocritical, the way I see it. If the process for creating wealth is evil, then it also has to be evil to benefit from those resources by receiving offerings.

What I find interesting is that most of the harshest critics of prosperity in the life of a believer do so because of the one side of Jesus’ teaching to sell all and follow Him. This rationale against the idea of a believer being blessed is used by people who have rarely sold all to follow Him, making their argument a moot point.

On the other hand, often in reaction to that way of thinking, we find those who teach that we measure spirituality by our possessions, income, and status on the world stage. We can’t find that in Jesus’ teaching or example either. It is quite contrary to the life Jesus led. Neither was it taught or practiced by the early church fathers. So forgive my bluntness, but I consider both teachings to be reactions to each other, sick representations of the King and His kingdom. These issues must be settled if we’re ever going to be successful in the command to disciple nations.

We are designed to reign in life through prosperity of soul. Our inner world defines our outer world. Only in the context of great favor and promotion can we succeed at making disciples of nations. Even Jesus grew in favor with God and man. It’s time we recognize the need for favor in both realms in order to succeed at our assignment.

To Rule or to Serve

Many know of the command to love and serve people. But did you know that we are also commanded to rule? All government has these two basic responsibilities before God: to rule and to serve. Our assignment to rule is for protecting. Our assignment to serve is for empowering. In other words, we rule to protect, and we serve to empower.

It doesn’t matter if we’re talking about the president of a nation, the CEO of a corporation, or the mom and dad of a home. We rule to protect. Ruling is not for self-promotion or self-benefit Authority is given to us in differing measures to speak on behalf of those who have little to no voice, bringing divine justice and safety through the faithful stewardship of our influence.

God warned Israel of their desire for a king because those individuals would eventually turn their role into one of self-service. The greater the authority that rests upon a person, the greater that person’s ability to bring change and transformation. Tragically, authority can also bring destruction if misused.

These same principles are true for the church and family. When Paul addresses elders in the church, he states, “The elders who rule well are to be considered worthy of double honor” (1 Tim. 5:17). Elders rule the church. Parents are to rule their households well.

Jesus modeled both ruling and serving. He is both the King of all kings and the servant of all. His perspective is what makes the discovery of our significance a safe journey in that each role has its purpose of glorifying Him in everything. The bottom line is that we must learn to rule with the heart of a servant and serve with the heart of a king. It may take us a lifetime to learn this well, but it is a worthwhile journey.

The Purpose of Blessing

On many occasions, I’ve told our church family that if they don’t want more, they 're selfish. Of everything I’ve ever said, that statement is one of the easiest to criticize. And while I can make a strong biblical case against it, I also believe it is entirely accurate in the context in which I speak it.

Of course, many automatically think I’m saying we should want wealth, fame, and power. These things are poor counterfeits of kingdom influence and authority. They are the wrong focus entirely. And while it is true that God releases these things into people’s lives in different measures and fascinating ways, my approach to this subject is quite different.

We are all surrounded by the needs of people—economic, emotional, physical, relational, mental, and spiritual. The list is endless. To be specific, some not only need a meal, they also need a job restored so they can become a contributor to society and recover the dignity lost through their time of trial, their bout with injustice, or even their season of living with the fruit of poor choices.

We are all surrounded by the needs of people—economic, emotional, physical, relational, mental, and spiritual. The list is endless. To be specific, some not only need a meal, they also need a job restored so they can become a contributor to society and recover the dignity lost through their time of trial, their bout with injustice, or even their season of living with the fruit of poor choices.

Sometimes I’m overwhelmed by the deep cry of broken people. Their emotional need is so extreme that they could unintentionally drain the average believer beyond reason. These broken ones need to lean on the strength of another until they find their bearings again.

Of course, it is God who heals and restores, but He uses people. In 3 John 2, we find there is a prosperity of soul available to all of us. We are designed with the potential to be wealthy on the inside. What would it look like if my inner world, my soul, were as prosperous as the richest man in the natural world? Why should we expect less from God for our internal prosperity than the financial condition of the wealthiest of the wealthy? Since the Holy Spirit is the source of unlimited internal wealth of heart and mind, our potential is limitless. And while that potential is in the life of every believer, there’s a vast difference between what’s in our account (in Christ) and what’s in our possession (our daily lifestyle.)

When Peter ministered healing to the man at the Beautiful Gate (Acts 3:8), the account records this lame man “walked, leaped, and praised God.” He walked because He was physically healed. He leaped because he was emotionally healed. And he praised God because he was spiritually healed. Peter gave what he had, and it was enough for the complete restoration of this very broken man.

I’ve had many occasions when demons have left people’s bodies when I’ve prayed for them. It is a unique joy to see such liberty come on the countenance of these dear ones. But I’ve also had times when very tormented people left in the same condition in which they came. And while I can think of a number of valid reasons why the person left in bondage, the answers don’t satisfy me. We have no record in the Gospels of it happening that way for Jesus, and He is our greatest example.

There were extreme cases of demon possession recorded in the Bible, like the man of the Gadarenes. He was delivered in a moment. It was Jesus’ one-step program—out of darkness into His marvelous light. I believe a greater anointing on my life would have helped so many who were not helped. Perhaps this is why Paul said we were to “desire earnestly spiritual gifts” (1 Cor. 14:1). There must be a cry in me for “the more” of God to rest upon my life, as the need around me is not getting smaller; it’s increasing dramatically. And so is the compassion in me for their breakthroughs.

While examples of our need for more could fill this entire book, I hope you get the point. We must hunger in the secret place with God for the more He has made available so that we might be the blessing we were designed to be—all for the sake of others.

The Rest of the Story

Let me start by addressing what I view as our greatest challenge. Without the cross, we have nothing in this life of following Jesus. Denying ourselves for the sake of Christ is the only reasonable way to live. Yet the life of a believer is the life of resurrection. The cross must lead us to something, and this something is the place of triumph. Victory over sin, torment, disease, and the like is a manifestation of the resurrection power of Jesus.

Jesus didn’t stay on the cross, nor did He stay in the grave. He rose from the dead to give us new life. What does that life look like when the blessing of His resurrection touches our health, our finances, or our place in society?

To be honest, it’s easy to live in reaction to whatever error offends me the most (either poverty or wealth as signs of spirituality). It’s much more challenging to live in response to what the Father is saying and doing in these areas. Reaction gives me a conclusion; response connects me to a process. And this process takes me somewhere, which is beyond all we have the intelligence or faith to ask for ourselves. Herein lies one of the greatest mysteries of the Christian life, found in 1 John 4:17: “As He is, so also are we in this world.” This was written by the Apostle John, the one who was with Jesus before His death at the last supper, who had his head on Jesus’ chest. This same John then saw Jesus some time later in His glorified state in Revelation chapter 1. It was this John who wrote, “As He is…” Our life is patterned after the one who is raised from the dead, ascended to the right hand of the Father, and forever glorified. It almost sounds blasphemous to say, but our walk with Jesus is not patterned after His pre-glorified state. It is firmly established in the victorious Christ! Jesus taught us the ways of the kingdom in His earthly life. His humility, boldness, passion, and love are all eternal. These traits never change, whether it’s before the cross or after. This is who the Son of God has always been, always will be. They remain true, no matter the season of our lives. But His resurrection, ascension, and glorification are to change much of what we expect of our lives in that we live from the absolute victory of Christ.

The Christian life is one of conflict between the issue of blessing and the issue of the cross. There’s probably no greater area of disagreement in the church than when it comes to money. And while I don’t intend to make this book or even this chapter about money, it’s a natural standard to use as it is the easiest to measure.

Most believers can quote Jesus’ command to the rich young ruler to sell everything he had and give to the poor. Jesus knew what occupied the center of this young man’s heart. It was vital for him to make the exchange from Lord Mammon to Lord Jesus. But he was unwilling.

Tragically, few live with an awareness of the other half of that vital bit of instruction. Once again, we find ourselves in the conflicted life.

Here’s a great passage on this subject from Mark 10:23–25, 28–31:

And Jesus, looking around, said to His disciples, “How hard it will be for those who are wealthy to enter the kingdom of God!” The disciples were amazed at His words. But Jesus answered again and said to them, “Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.”
Peter began to say to Him, “Behold, we have left everything and followed You.” Jesus said, “Truly I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or farms, for My sake and for the gospel’s sake, but that he will receive a hundred times as much now in the present age, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and farms, along with persecutions; and in the age to come, eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and the last, first.”

In this chapter, Jesus deals swiftly with the threat of wealth on a believer’s life. When Peter reminds Jesus that they left everything to follow Him, He surprises them with His answer: “He will receive a hundred times as much now in the present age, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and farms, along with persecutions; and in the age to come, eternal life.” We know Jesus isn’t talking about our being blessed in eternity, as there is no persecution there. Forgive my brashness, but it appears that Jesus points to money/wealth/blessing saying it will kill you. And then He says He will pour one hundred times as much of what will kill you back into their lives. I’m sure this is an overstatement, but I hope you get my point. It is the cross (leaving all) that gives them access to the resurrection (a hundred-fold return on what they left).

His answer to Peter is rarely quoted and not nearly as often as the first half of the dialogue. I’m sure the reason for this is the fact that we don’t want any more self-serving Christians who wish to follow Jesus for personal gain and profit. But it is my conviction that if we don’t learn how to manage blessings correctly, we’ll never enter the place He intended for us in bringing true reformation, awakening, and renaissance to our nations. This is the rest of the story. All of this is for the purpose of fulfilling the commission Jesus gave us to disciple nations.

Paul Speaks

There’s no one who better illustrates what it is to follow Jesus to me than the apostle Paul. His life of abandonment to Jesus is convicting and inspiring at the same time. His insights and instruction for the church are flawless. Here he speaks to the wealthy through 1 Timothy 6:17–19:

Instruct those who are rich in this present world not to be conceited or to fix their hope on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly supplies us with all things to enjoy. Instruct them to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, storing up for themselves the treasure of a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is life indeed.

Let’s unpack some principles from this scripture that we can apply to any manifestation of blessing, whether it be health, position, legacy, or others.

1. Don’t let blessings make you conceited.

This implies that wealth of any kind can make people proud and independent, thinking that they earned or deserved the blessing. Blessings create entitlement without humility and thankfulness. One of my favorite verses is “The horse is prepared for the day of battle, but the victory belongs to the Lord” (Prov. 21:31). I love this verse because it reveals how the natural and supernatural realms are to merge. On the one hand, there is our effort, discipline, and training. But even then, God gets all the credit for everything we worked so hard at. He enabled us and gave us strength, wisdom, and opportunity. Removing Him from the equation is the most dangerous expression of foolishness, leading certainly to destructive pride. I must do all I can do to ensure victory so to speak, but at the end of the day, I must live with the realization that the victory only came through the grace of God. Any other way of thinking will become the fly in the ointment that I will suffer for in the end.

2. Don’t fix hope on the uncertainty of riches.

I often ask people how much money is too much money. As I write this, governments and institutions are trying to solve that puzzle right now through high taxes and other forms of punishment. But I believe it comes down to this: Too much is whatever amount replaces trust. For one person, it is $1,000 in the bank. For another, it is $100,000,000. It’s not an amount. It’s how the blessing affects our relational trust in Jesus. Money, or blessing in general, is not stable enough to carry the weight of faith. Only Jesus is perfectly faithful and worthy of undefiled trust.

3. God richly supplies us with all things to enjoy.

Blessings are to endear us to Him with delight and joy. His supply is abundant, and it must lead us to the legitimate kingdom expression of pleasure. It is to be enjoyed. When increase causes us to become separate from human need and independent from our divine purpose, we falter.

4. Do good, be rich in good works, and be generous and ready to share.

In the end, the blessings of the Lord—whether they be finances, favor, position, or insights—are to be used for the benefit of others. Good works, generosity, and a lifestyle of fellowship with other believers are to be the hallmarks of the blessed life. Blessings position us to affect another person’s life for the better. Generosity—whether through financing, serving, or granting opportunity—produces thankfulness in the heart of the one who receives, which brings glory to God. And that is the goal of all things: for God to be glorified.

The Old Covenant Speaks

One of the fundamental conflicts we have in the whole of Scripture is not so much between Law and Grace, but the promises, blessings, and lifestyles of the Old Testament saint vs. those of us in the New Testament. What do the blessings of God look like in the Old versus the New? Clearly, they were natural before the cross, and they are primarily spiritual and eternal once one has been born again. But do the natural blessings and promises of the Old Testament still apply to New Testament believers?

It will help us if we can learn to recognize what ended at the cross, what changed at the cross, and what came through the cross unchanged. I believe that ignoring this issue will cost us dearly as God has left precious treasures for the New Testament believer in the whole Bible. Romans 15:4 says, “For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, so that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.” The Old Testament was written for the New Testament believer as much as it was for those in the day it was written. From this passage we see that hope is the fruit of embracing the whole of Scripture. The following illustrates our challenge:

1. What ended at the cross: Animal sacrifices ended at the cross. Jesus died once and for all, putting an end to the need of shedding blood for the temporary postponement of sin’s penalty.

2. What was changed at the cross: When Jesus announced the favorable year of the Lord, He announced every year to be the year of Jubilee. Under the Old Covenant, the year of Jubilee took place every fifty years. This was when all debts were canceled, slaves were set free, and property boundaries were re-established to the original borders. Because of the cross, Jesus was able to announce that Jubilee is no longer just every fifty years. It is now.

3. What made it through the cross unchanged: Worship today is basically the same as it was in David’s day. He instituted something new and unusual: musical instruments, singing, choirs, dancing, and other physical expressions were all given as offerings to Him, the audience of One. Our great privilege in life is to minister to God, which David explored in ways not known before. These were all new expressions of thanksgiving, praise, and worship. David’s example became the new norm. Amos 9:11–12 declared this would be a last-days reality just as it was in David’s day. This fulfillment was recognized by the apostles in Acts 15:16–18.

Jesus teaches that we are not to make natural wealth our goal. Paul affirms this value in teaching and practice. But then even Solomon, the richest man ever, teaches the same in Proverbs. He stated that we are not to weary ourselves to obtain wealth, for it makes itself wings and flies away.

More specifically, the Old Testament promises wealth and wellbeing to those who obey God. In fact, the Hebrew word shalom contains just about everything we will ever need in life in its definition. It means “sound mind, wellbeing, health, prosperity,” and on and on. The point is, these blessings are interwoven throughout the Old Testament as the reward for obeying God.

I read two psalms in prophetic intercessory prayer over my household every day: Psalm 127 and Psalm 128. I especially enjoy them in The Passion Translation. Here’s Psalm 128:

How joyous are those who love the Lord and bow low before God, ready to obey him! Your reward will be prosperity, happiness, and well-being. Your wife will bless your heart and home. Your children will bring you joy as they gather around your table. Yes, this is God’s generous reward for those who love him. May the Lord bless you out of his Zion-glory! May you see the prosperity of Jerusalem throughout your lifetime. And may you be surrounded by your grandchildren. Happiness to you! And happiness to Israel!

This psalm declares prosperity, happiness, and wellbeing as rewards for obeying God in humility. It goes on to say this blessed person will experience multi-generational health in their family, and they will eventually influence an entire city by that blessing.

David’s Value for Rewards

We often think of David killing Goliath as a demonstration of his zeal for God. It is,but notice that he was also motivated by a healthy desire for reward.

Israel lined up in battle array but wanted to do anything but fight. A giant of the Philistine army named Goliath wanted to fight someone. There was no one, including King Saul, with the courage to fight him. David’s father Jesse sent him to the frontlines to bring food to his other sons. David brought the food and stood with the soldiers. When he overheard the reward for killing Goliath, his interests perked up. Whoever slew this giant would get Saul’s beautiful daughter as a wife, as well as riches, and a lifetime free of taxes for his family.

It’s a funny story, especially in light of how many believers won’t discuss or allow themselves to want rewards from God. But David asked someone else about the rewards for killing Goliath, again. And then again. Even his brothers were annoyed about this young man being with the men. I’m sure their cowardice was being exposed by the courage of their younger brother.

David became righteously indignant. He told Saul the story of how he had killed the lion and the bear and was now ready to kill this mere man who taunted the armies of the living God. The righteous jealousy for the Lord was real. And so was his desire for reward. What followed is one of the most well-known stories in the Bible. People who have never read the Bible can tell it in great detail. It has become a cultural proverb for how the underdog defeats their foe. We use it in sports, politics, and the corporate world. But it started with a young man who was jealous for God and at the same time longed for promotion.

For those who think it unspiritual to look for promotion and reward, I remind you of two things:

1. Jesus endured the cross for the joy set before Him. (See Hebrews 12:2.) Joy was the reward for His suffering.

2. Faith believes He is and that He is the One who rewards those who diligently seek Him. (See Hebrews 11:6.)

Reward is an essential part of authentic faith. Without it, we don’t understand what God called us to when He called us to a life of faith. Jesus talked about rewards quite liberally. We can never think it is humility to ignore what Jesus spoke about.

David became provoked and killed Goliath with a stone. And as they say, the rest is history. It is not healthy to deflect honor in the moments when it is given. When someone compliments you, don’t say, “It wasn’t me; it was Jesus.” If you ever say that to me, I’ll likely respond, “Oh, it was good, but not that good!” That’s my humorous way of pointing out that it’s best to receive the compliment. Enjoy the moment of honor and let it encourage you as it was intended to do. Then when you’re alone, give it to the One who deserves it most. “Jesus, here, this was given to me, and it belongs to You. Thank You for the privilege of co-laboring with You.” Besides, if we don’t know how to receive honor, we’ll have no crown to throw at His feet, which is a concept found in Revelations 4:10.

A Pastor’s Delight

As a pastor, I strongly emphasize spiritual responsibilities and how they affect eternity. I consider eternity to be the cornerstone of logic and reason for a kingdom-minded person. Once we remove eternity from the equation, we remove design, purpose, and destiny. And once those issues are out of our consciousness, no longer is there awareness or burden for the subject of accountability. This is where we stand before God to give an account of our lives. For this reason, great wisdom comes from living with a consciousness of eternity.

I don’t like the emphasis of many that use wealth and fame as a measuring rod to how well someone is doing in their efforts to follow Jesus. And yet I don’t know of any pastors who do not rejoice if one of their members becomes the mayor of their city, the CEO of a major corporation, or the star athlete who signs a huge contract with a professional sports team. It’s not about their increase in tithe or financial support, either. It really is about the joy of seeing the people we care for come into the fulfillment of their purpose and destiny. It’s what we do. We delight in other people’s promotions. But sadly, we rarely have the courage to teach this as a possible way that God would bless or cause a person to be successful. I hope to be able to speak to this issue, as well as equip the believer to become all that God intended. For anyone who discovers who God made them to be would never want to be anyone else.

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