Stefani Germanotta is known to the world as pop singer Lady Gaga. Given her outlandish stage acts and personal challenges, you might not think of her as a philosopher. But consider a talk she recently gave at Yale University: "I feel sad when I'm overworked and I just become a money-making machine and passion and creativity take a backseat. That makes me unhappy. So what did I do? I started to say no. I'm not doing that. I don't want to do that. . . . And slowly but surely, I remembered who I am."
Now consider this statement by Warren Buffett: "The difference between successful people and really successful people is that really successful people say no to almost everything."
So, how do we know when to say yes?
In recent days we have noted that God gives every Christian a Kingdom assignment. It is vital that we understand those we are called to serve, engaging them courageously with biblical truth and grace.
Today let's think about the importance of strategy.
Paul knew he was called to minister to Gentiles. But the Roman world was vast. Where would he go? Many scholars believe that the apostle's missionary journeys followed the trade routes of the day. As Paul was a craftsman, he went where he could earn a living. This strategy took him to the largest population centers of the day.
There he would begin where he had influence—in the synagogue where, as a former student of Gamaliel, he would be received and affirmed. His desire was to create a beachhead for the gospel from which he could reach the larger culture. If there was no synagogue, or if the Jewish rulers expelled him, he would then turn directly to the Gentiles.
Paul followed both approaches in Athens: "He reasoned in the synagogue with the Jews and the devout persons, and in the marketplace every day with those who happened to be there" (Acts 17:17).
In Philippi his approach was much different. Knowing that there were not enough Jewish men in Philippi to constitute a synagogue (ten were required), he went to a nearby river. There he hoped to find Jews and "God-fearers" (Gentiles who worshiped the God of Israel) using running water for their religious observances. And there he was able to win Lydia, one of the economic and cultural leaders of the city. The church that began in her home would influence the entire region and beyond (Acts 16:1-40).
In Ephesus, Paul changed his strategy yet again. After he was opposed by Jewish leaders in the synagogue, "he withdrew from them and took the disciples with him, reasoning daily in the lecture hall of Tyrannus" (Acts 19:9). With this result: "This continued for two years, so that all the residents of Asia heard the word of the Lord, both Jews and Greeks" (v. 10).
God has a strategy for your Kingdom assignment. However, don't expect a five-year plan. Paul had to follow God's leading step by step, working strategically within his understanding of God's call. You and I must do the same.
Stay close to Jesus, so that he can lead you in his larger plan and purpose. (Tweet this) As Oswald Chambers reminds us, "It is a question of being united with Jesus in his death until nothing ever appeals to you that did not appeal to him."
What appeals to you today?
Publication date: November 3, 2015
For more from the Denison Forum on Truth and Culture, please visit www.denisonforum.org.
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