That time between anointment and appointment can be difficult and/or nerve wrecking. When you finally get that confirmation of your calling, there is so much excitement and maybe even a tinge of fear; but, excitement nonetheless.
I was excited as I started understanding my gifts and my calling. I was excited to begin operating in my calling. I was content with the fact that I had to be trained, get mentored, and be pruned. But as the time lingered on, I was becoming impatient. I was getting pruned, but not getting any training or mentoring. I had a speaking opportunity here and a bible study teaching opportunity there, but I was not doing it as often as I wanted, which was full time, and I did not have a mentor. In fact, I was and still am an IT professional; a profession which provides a great income for my family, but, in my eyes, does not allow me the opportunity to fully operate in my gifts and calling.
When I speak at conferences, banquets and seminars, I come alive. You can tell it is what I am supposed to be doing. When I attend a meeting, build a relationship, manage projects, review technical solutions, or give presentations, my co-workers feel like that is what I am supposed to be doing. I feel like it is humdrum. I feel like my gifts are not fully being used. I feel like I am in a holding pattern; not moving backward, but not moving forward either. Just stuck.
Here lately, I have been wondering and asking God, “is this all there is?” An occasional high from a speaking engagement and the ever-deepening discontentment of an ordinary life as an IT professional. Do I only exist to work for someone else, cook dinner, help with homework, wash and fold laundry, go to baseball games and make frequent trips to the grocery store? Is this all there is? Surely God, you have called me to do more. Surely God, there is more of a difference that you want me to make and in a much grander fashion. I have been doing this wash, rinse, repeat routine for over 20 years. Is this all there is? Am I missing the mark somewhere God? Am I missing what you are teaching me? Am I confined to ordinary?
Have you or do you feel that way? If so, then you and I both can learn a thing or three from David; one of my favorite people in the Bible. We can learn how to see things from a different perspective. We can learn to shake off that wrong thinking.
I opened up to a dear friend of mine and she sent me quite a few sermons she had listened to that she thought would help me see things from a different and better perspective. One sermon, in particular, was a 15 minute snippet by Steven Furtick, Pastor of Elevation Church in North Carolina. The snippet was from his sermon entitled, “Don’t Let the Enemy Distract You.” It was such a timely word and a game changer for me. Furtick mentioned three things David had to overcome to fight Goliath; however, I want to dig deeper into those three things as they spoke something to my situation. I needed to do this because one thing I had to overcome… thinking my situation was just ordinary and I wasn’t making progress.
If you read 1 Samuel 16 in its entirety, and I suggest you do, you will encounter the story of David being anointed the second king of Israel. David, the man after God’s own heart, was anointed king of Israel when he was around 10-15 years old. However, he did not get appointed king until he was around 30 years old. Talk about having to wait!
When Samuel was trying to find the person God wanted to be the next king, they had to send for David. His father didn’t present him as a candidate for kingship because David was busy keeping the sheep.
11 Then Samuel said to Jesse, “Are all your sons here?” And he said, “There remains yet the youngest, but behold, he is keeping the sheep.” And Samuel said to Jesse, “Send and get him, for we will not sit down till he comes here.” 12 And he sent and brought him in. Now he was ruddy and had beautiful eyes and was handsome. And the Lord said, “Arise, anoint him, for this is he.” 13 Then Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the midst of his brothers. And the Spirit of the Lord rushed upon David from that day forward. And Samuel rose up and went to Ramah. 1 Samuel 16:11-13, ESV
When David was anointed, it appears he went right back to keeping the sheep. Don’t miss the significance of this. He was just anointed king of Israel. He is not rushed to the palace, donned with royal attire, and given the throne. NOOOO! He goes back to keeping the sheep. He goes back to his “ordinary” job probably singing the song Simba sung in the Lion King, “I Just Can’t Wait to Be King!” Okay, maybe not! :>)
While David is keeping the sheep, things were happening in the palace. God was making his move and getting things ready for David. The Spirit of God left Saul! Whew! Don’t ever want that to happen to me! The cure…stay obedient; but that is another lesson! When the Spirit of God left Saul and he was being tormented by a harmful spirit, one of his servants suggested he get someone skilled in playing the lyre to soothe Saul. Who was suggested? None other but David. You better go God! God was moving!
17 So Saul said to his servants, “Provide for me a man who can play well and bring him to me.” 18 One of the young men answered, “Behold, I have seen a son of Jesse the Bethlehemite, who is skillful in playing, a man of valor, a man of war, prudent in speech, and a man of good presence, and the Lord is with him.” 19 Therefore Saul sent messengers to Jesse and said, “Send me David your son, who is with the sheep.” 1 Samuel 16: 17-19
I have read those passages of scripture many times, but the significance of David keeping the sheep is profound. He was doing the ordinary job of keeping sheep before he was anointed king and he went back to the ordinary job of keeping sheep after he was anointed king. But was it ordinary? Is my job and the things I do for my family ordinary? Is your job and the things you do ordinary? I think not! David did not see his occupation as ordinary and we must see that for ourselves as well.
While David’s job in our eyes and other people’s eyes may SEEM to be ordinary, it is anything but. David’s ordinary job helped him acquire some skills and hone his gifts and talents. When Saul’s servant describes David in verse 18, he says:
- David was skillful in playing
- David was a man of valor
- David was a man of war
- David was prudent in speech (he was wise, thoughtful and eloquent with his speech)
- David was a man of good presence (he was handsome)
- David was not alone for God was with him
Because he used his skills, gifts and talents doing his “ordinary” job, they made room for him and brought him before great men!! (Proverbs 18:16). His reputation proceeded him. Are you using your skills, gifts and talents while “waiting”? David’s ordinary job of keeping the sheep was one of the training grounds God used to prepare David. David did not see it as ordinary either. In fact he gets to tell the king himself what he believes about his gifts when he OFFERS to fight Goliath!
31 When the words that David spoke were heard, they repeated them before Saul, and he sent for him. 32 And David said to Saul, “Let no man’s heart fail because of him. Your servant will go and fight with this Philistine.” 33 And Saul said to David, “You are not able to go against this Philistine to fight with him, for you are but a youth, and he has been a man of war from his youth.” 34 But David said to Saul, “Your servant used to keep sheep for his father. And when there came a lion, or a bear, and took a lamb from the flock, 35 I went after him and struck him and delivered it out of his mouth. And if he arose against me, I caught him by his beard and struck him and killed him. 36 Your servant has struck down both lions and bears, and this uncircumcised Philistine shall be like one of them, for he has defied the armies of the living God.” 37 And David said, “The Lord who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine.” And Saul said to David, “Go, and the Lord be with you!” 1 Samuel 17: 31-37
David listed what he accomplished while keeping sheep and he would use those skills against Goliath. But most importantly, He said, God was with him and delivered him EVERY TIME! David was focused on God, not the job.
Where is my focus? Where is your focus? Do you see God in your ordinary work? As I really sit and think, I have to honestly say that I don’t have the perspective David did.
To overcome ordinary, we have to change our focus. We must change the belief that where we currently are isn’t making a difference. It is a training ground. We must believe that our “ordinary” job is growing us and preparing us for our calling….and it may take years. We must stop believing that we know better than God. We must stop believing that God has forgotten about us. The time is not wasted and we have not been forgotten. People are hearing about the ways I am using my gift. Slowly, but surely, doors are beginning to open; however, as Lysa Terkeurst said, I must continue to trust God and stop looking at the tree of knowledge. I need to fix my gaze on the tree of life. The tree of life promises an eternal life with God.
We must believe, like David, that God is right here; grooming us, preparing us, qualifying us…despite our constant questioning of his plans.
There is something providential about David keeping the sheep. For David to be successful as a king, he had to have a shepherd’s skillset – providing for the safety and welfare of the flock. Some flocks could include as many as 1,000 sheep. Could you imagine having to herd that many sheep everyday to new pastures? Could you imagine having to protect that many sheep from predators? Could you imagine having to know the terrain well enough to make sure the sheep don’t wander off and get into a sticky situation. David’s job was not ordinary and its purpose was training him to be king.
My job as an IT professional is not ordinary; it has a purpose for training me to be a great orator and teacher of the Bible. My CALLING as a mother and wife is not ordinary!! In fact, it provides great material for speaking engagements, bible studies and blog articles! :>)
Your job is not ordinary; it has a purpose of training you for your purpose!
God has EXTRAordinary things for us to do but the path is through “ordinary”. Don’t let the devil distract you and cause you to think that what you are doing does not matter. Don’t believe the devil when he tells you that you are stuck. Those are all lies! Fix your eyes on Jesus and the truth of His Word. It took David 15-20 years to actually become king of Israel and that journey was filled with happiness, joy, excitement, praise, worship, adventure, loss, grief, and loneliness. But it was all a part of the training and the best part of all? David was in the passenger’s seat letting God drive…most times! He had a very intimate relationship with God and isn’t that the real goal!? And here we are some thousands of years later, talking about David and learning lessons from him…the guy who was keeping sheep before he became king.
Don’t look down on your “ordinary.” Ordinary helps you grow your relationship with God.
Embrace your ordinary. See it in the right perspective. Learn from it. Enjoy it.
Stay tuned for the next article… Remember, I said there were three things we can learn! >:)
Spicing Up Your Soul