Recently I had the opportunity to meet with dozens of Calvary pastors from around the country in New York City for a special time of prayer and fellowship. Our time together was marked by a noticeable thirst to see God’s kingdom come and will be done in our cities as it is in heaven. Though primarily focused on those ministering in the East and Northeast, the meeting was designed for pastors around North America to gather and seek the Lord for His church. It was powerful, memorable and refreshing for everyone there.
One of the main takeaways for all of us was a quote that Pastor Brian Brodersen shared. He quoted author and Desiring God contributor, Ann Voskamp, who had recently tweeted, “Know your Lord. Know your lane.” What ensued was a robust dialogue for hours about how important it is to have an intimate relationship with God and to be acquainted and comfortable in the calling He has for us.
KNOW YOUR LORD
In Philippians 3:8-11, Paul says, “Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith; that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.”
In these verses, the apostle Paul compared his spiritual inventory before Christ—an impressive religious résumé by most standards—with refuse. In comparison to knowing Christ, Paul said all that religion offers should be thrown away as if it were unclean excrement. He said that his one desire was to simply know Jesus and the power of His resurrection, suffering and death.
Nothing compares to knowing our Lord. Jesus corrected busy Martha and drew attention to her sister Mary who had “chosen what is better” (Luke 10:42). What was Mary doing? She was sitting at the Lord’s feet. For Martha, the focus was on effort, work and tasks that were done in such a way that Jesus would be served. For Mary, the priority was spending time getting to know Jesus, not merely serving Him. Our ministry should flow out of our relationship with the Lord. Moses’ face was radiant after spending time in the presence of God (Exodus 34:29). Peter and John were identified by the religious leaders as “having been with Jesus” (Acts 4:13). The highest priority for a pastor is to cultivate his relationship with God. We are messengers, not professionals. That means we must seek the King to receive from Him before we dare to speak for Him.
Spurgeon said it powerfully:
“If you want to serve God, as I trust you do, I charge you first be careful of your own souls; do not begin with learning how to preach, or how to teach, or how to do this and that; dear friend, get the strength within your own soul, and then even if you do not know how to use it scientifically, yet you will do much, The first thing is, get the heart warmed, stir up your manhood, brace up all your faculties, get the Christ within you, ask the everlasting God to come upon you, get him to inspire you, and then if your methods should not be according to the methods of others it will not matter, or if they should, neither will it be of consequence, having the power you will accomplish the results. But if you go about to perform the work before you have the strength from on high, you shall utterly fail. Better things we hope of you.”
Jesus said in John 17:3, “And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.” Peter ends his second epistle with these words, “But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory both now and forever. Amen” (2 Peter 3:18). May we make the priority to know our Lord like never before and grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior!
KNOW YOUR LANE
Obviously this is a reference to driving. When we drive, we stay in a particular lane for a particular amount of time. Often on my commute to work, I will see people frantically changing lanes to try and move ahead of the pace of traffic. But if you know what lane you need to be in, you can rest content to stay in your lane. When we “know our lane,” it means we understand who we are, and what God has called us to do and be. We aren’t striving to find and do ministry; we are serving the Lord exactly where He’s called us to be.
As a man and a minister, it is critical to know my calling. Paul opens up his first letter to Timothy by introducing himself as: “Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ, by the commandment of God our Savior and the Lord Jesus Christ, our hope” (1 Timothy 1:1). Paul explained to Timothy that he was called an apostle only by the command of God. An apostle is simply one who is sent. Paul didn’t ordain himself. He didn’t send himself. He was sent by the command of God. This clear call, traced back to the road to Damascus (Acts 9:1-9), would encourage Paul in the future, should he ever grow discouraged or distressed.
Later, he said this to his young protégé in the faith: “And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord who has enabled me, because He counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry, although I was formerly a blasphemer, a persecutor, and an insolent man; but I obtained mercy because I did it ignorantly in unbelief” (1 Timothy 1:12-13).
Paul could trace his calling into ministry back to the Lord Jesus. He didn’t enter the ministry under obligation, coercion or out of greed. He entered the ministry out of obedience. That is how all of us are to enter ministry!
In his final letter to Timothy, Paul’s "lane" was clearly delineated: “...To which I was appointed a preacher, an apostle, and a teacher of the Gentiles. For this reason I also suffer these things; nevertheless I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day” (2 Timothy 1:11-12).
Paul knew his lane. He was a preacher, an apostle and a teacher of the Gentiles. He had all the spiritual past of someone well-equipped to minister to the Jew, but the Lord had opened specific doors for him to turn his attention to the Gentiles (Acts 18:6). Do you know your lane?
Some people struggle with “lane envy.” They want to be in someone else’s lane. They want someone else’s ministry, influence, church or life. Paul certainly could have argued with God about his calling: “But Lord, I would prefer to reach my fellow Jews, like Peter!” Instead, Paul understood that he was appointed on purpose for a specific purpose. When he rested in that, the Lord was glorified and the church advanced.
When we know our lane, we then have the capability to stay settled and content—knowing that the Lord is using us for His glory and our joy. Our unique gifts, personalities (and even quirks) can be redeemed and used to build His kingdom. We can advance the work of God doing what we love and are spiritually gifted to do. When we don’t know our lane, we stumble and struggle and squander precious years and energy while our real mission gathers dust.
Do you know your lane? Do you know your Lord?