Pastor Miles DeBenedictis
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
The Key to Unlocking Joy: The Joy of Gratitude
By this time you might be beginning to recover from yesterday’s food coma. Hopefully. We (my family) are waiting for the arrival of our 3rd little baby. She should be here any day; I hope we’re ready.
This time of year always brings me great joy. I love the fall and winter; and preparing for the end of the year always brings great anticipation for what God will do in the new year. Each year in early November our pastoral team goes away for a few days to plan and pray for the upcoming year. As the result of a very full schedule this year we had to bump our meeting up a month to mid-October, but I’m pretty sure that everyone on our team is expecting good things in 2012, although it is supposed to be the end of the world.
After nearly 13 years in vocational ministry and almost 4 as a senior pastor, I’m more convinced than ever that one of the major roles for a lead pastor is vision seeking and vision casting.
In the early spring of 2001 I began teaching through the book of Exodus as a Jr. High pastor at Calvary Escondido. At that time I was also working closely with Joey Buran and Worship Generation at Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa. Joey was (and is) a pastor with great prophetic vision. God used his discipleship and influence in 2000 and 2001, as well as my personal study and teaching of Exodus, to plant in my heart some important realities about vision seeking and casting.
In Exodus 25 God commands Moses to take up an offering from the Children of Israel, so that they might build a sanctuary for the Lord, which would be a tabernacle of meeting for the people and God.
And let them make Me a sanctuary, that I may dwell among them. According to all that I show you, that is, the pattern of the tabernacle and the pattern of all its furnishings, just so you shall make it.
– Exodus 25:8-9
With God’s command to build the tabernacle came a vision, from God, for that which was to be constructed. As I studied and taught through this section of scripture over 10 years ago, the Lord spoke very clearly to my heart that as I sought Him, He would give me vision also. It is incredibly important that those in leadership positions be actively seeking the Lord for direction and vision. This should be a given for all Christians, but especially those in leadership, for where there is no prophetic vision the people cast off restraint (Proverbs 29:18).
Vision from God primarily springs out of our devotional time with the Lord. Moses was on the mountain-top, alone with God when he received the vision from the Lord. This patter has held true in my life as well. Dedicated time away to seek the Lord for vision is essential. If we trust Him for this, He will certainly prove Himself faithful. God’s word must always be the foundation of vision; the core values that govern what you do and how you do it, but I have found that God uses many [extra-Biblical] ways to reveal vision.
Conversations with friends, family and co-laborers; articles and books I read; videos I stumble upon online; stray thoughts I have running through my mind (especially as I’m about to fall asleep). All of these things God has used over the years to develop and reveal vision. There is rarely a day that goes by that I do not have a half-dozen or more inspirations for myself and my family personally and/or the church that I pastor. Thus it’s crucial that I’m ready with a note pad – or the notes app on my iPhone (my current default) – to take down the ideas, because stray thoughts vanish quickly.
I don’t remember the exact date, but I do remember that it was a Wednesday night in the fall of 2001 that God spoke very clearly to me about casting or imparting vision to others. I was walking to the main office at our church to get the teaching notes I’d just printed on Exodus 31; the first 11 verses of which read…
Then the LORD spoke to Moses, saying: “See, I have called by name Bezalel the son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah. And I have filled him with the Spirit of God, in wisdom, in understanding, in knowledge, and in all manner of workmanship, to design artistic works, to work in gold, in silver, in bronze, in cutting jewels for setting, in carving wood, and to work in all manner of workmanship.
“And I, indeed I, have appointed with him Aholiab the son of Ahisamach, of the tribe of Dan; and I have put wisdom in the hearts of all the gifted artisans, that they may make all that I have commanded you: the tabernacle of meeting, the ark of the Testimony and the mercy seat that is on it, and all the furniture of the tabernacle— the table and its utensils, the pure gold lampstand with all its utensils, the altar of incense, the altar of burnt offering with all its utensils, and the laver and its base— the garments of ministry, the holy garments for Aaron the priest and the garments of his sons, to minister as priests, and the anointing oil and sweet incense for the holy place. According to all that I have commanded you they shall do.”
– Exodus 31:1-11
After meditating upon the passage and prepping my message I had a conversation in my mind that went something like this, “Miles, I’m going to give you vision just like I did with Moses. But the vision that I’m going to give to you is something that you will not be able – by yourself – to accomplish. So I am going to gather people around you that I have gifted to accomplish the vision I’ve given you. You will have to impart the vision to those I’ve gifted, and then the work will get done.”
A vision is just a dream until it is shared with others. Only then can you, by God’s grace and power, step out to make it a reality. But many dreams are not [completely] clear when we initially have them. So I have found that it is important to develop the idea, make it clear and then share and impart it to others. Some people will probably think that your idea is crazy, foolish or “out there,” but those that God has gifted and called will lay hold of the vision and run with it.
Be seeking the Lord for vision. Be ready for when it comes. Be diligent to clarify and cast it to others. For…
The vision is yet for an appointed time, but at the end it shall speak, and not lie: though it tarry, wait for it; because it will surely come, it will not tarry.– Habakkuk 2:3