The Next Thing

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For years, I’ve fought against the urge to place too much weight upon the next thing. The next thing may not be clearly defined, of course–it rarely is. But nonetheless, I catch myself looking ahead, dreaming of what might be. All the while, I steadily lose sight of my present responsibilities.

I wrote about the temptation to look to the future too much just over a month ago. In that post, I highlighted some general principles, objective truths of the matter. But I’m becoming more convinced that these truths hold particular weight for my present situation; I’m recognizing more of a subjective element to this idea than I initially expected.

At this moment, unless the Lord leads elsewhere, I don’t plan on making any major moves anytime soon.

Ministry: I’ve been at my current church for over four years as a student minister. I don’t believe I’m especially gifted for student ministry, and I often feel challenged in the work. But while I’ve watched other ministers come and go throughout the area in the last few years, I’ve never felt led away. As I grow to know the people and the area better, I don’t foresee myself leaving anytime soon. God, I believe, has more for me to learn and do here.

Relationship: I believe God still has more for me to learn and do as a single guy as well. I’d like to get married one day, and I see the goodness of marriage for ministry and for sanctification. But I also see that I’d be leaving behind certain opportunities for service presently available to me. I don’t think he’s done with me here.

Education: I just finished my first semester in the doctoral program at NOBTS. Because of the freedoms afforded me by my present ministry and relationship statuses, I have a great deal of freedom to pursue education. Even so, my degree is a multi-year commitment. I love my studies, and I’m excited to be shaped through this season. But I won’t be finished here for a while.

I don’t always enjoy staying put. Growing up, I always wanted to be moving, going somewhere new, exploring some place I hadn’t yet been. I don’t think I’ve shaken that desire. When I don’t see any major changes on the horizon, I can easily feel stationary, as if I’m stuck until God finally reveals the next thing. I’m learning, however, that a good God controls my future. As Proverbs states,

Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the LORD that will stand.
Proverbs 19:21

I don’t need to worry about the next thing. Even my daily provision is in his hands (Matthew 6:25-34).

So what is my part? How do I live when I don’t feel called to move? I believe the answer lies in a focus on present faithfulness. I’m reminded of Jesus’s words concerning faithfulness, that “one who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much, and one who is dishonest in a very little is also dishonest in much” (Luke 16:10). I’m reminded of the parable of the ten minas in Luke 19. I’m convinced that I need to be faithful in what God has called me to in this season instead of distracted by too much attention to the future. I see my need for growth in each of the areas listed above as well as in other areas of my life, and I suspect that growth will come during this season of staying, growth which might not come through continued movement.

No matter what the next thing may be, I want to be found faithful today. I want to be the man God has called me to be, not distracted by anything that might captivate my gaze. And I want to serve as unto Christ in all that I do, trusting his Spirit to guide me from now unto eternity.


Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

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