One of the great frustrations of being in charge is knowing what to say “no” to. We realize we need to do this more often, but it’s often somewhere in the middle of a noble undertaking: A maintenance project, a capital improvement, teaching a class, prepping for a speaking opportunity. This is all “make-it-better” work, and for a crazy-hard-working-driven believer, there is a constant urge to try to make everything better…right now!
There’s another leader you’ve heard of who felt this way: David, the warrior-king. In II Samuel 7, David had a noble idea: Build the Lord a great worship center! It would be awesome: theater seating, colorful lighting, big screens everywhere, glass pulpit, kiosks, hardwood floors, free Wi-Fi, and a coffee bar! David even ran the plan past Nathan the local prophet who gave him a hardy thumbs-up. “Go for it, you visionary man of God!” Who wouldn’t want to see this accomplished in the name of the Lord!
Well…the Lord didn’t, and He revealed to Nathan that His plans for David did not include a temple. He was saving that wonder of the world as the legacy of a wiser man. How awkward it must have been for the prophet to inform the king that his grandiose plans were not endorsed by the One for Whose honor they were intended. Thanks, but no thanks.
A beautiful facet of this drama is the way David humbly took “no” for an answer. Who am I, Sovereign LORD, and what is my family, that you have brought me this far? It was the greatest fulfillment of life for David to merely be in a position of usefulness for God, no matter what the assignment.
However, the greatest take-away is David ‘s action in the next chapter: He got back to what he was already good at. Let’s face it, David was a killer, a warrior, a legend. If there was a Promised Land SEAL Team 6, David would have been the poster boy: Tough-guy beard, robust chest, stone-cold eyes, and lots and lots of weapons. Death and hurt were the jobs God gave David, not temple-building. When “no” was the answer to a visionary idea, the king put his entire self right back into what he had been told “yes” to a thousand other times.
Got any great ideas? Well, so did David. But do you have the humility to realize that God has not called you to flesh-out every idea you’ve ever thought of? toil at every job you see that needs doing? resuscitate every program you see failing? It’s a liberating realization and one that put David right back on task, with all his heart, at the work he was already good at.
What has God made you good at? Don’t settle for building a spectacular temple when he’s called you to be a warrior-king.
Now, get back to work.