I thought I was making real progress in processing the question, but John wouldn’t let up. He drilled deeper: “Let me put it another way. Are you just saying ‘Okay God, here’s my plan for the service. Will You please bless it?”
I knew better than that. I reacted with more than a hint of defensiveness: “NO! That’s not what I want at all!” I calmed down, took a deep breath and explained, “I want God’s plan because I know it already comes with His blessing!”
His next question rocked me back on my heels. “But Scott, are you really living by that?”
“What do you mean?” I asked. Before he said another word, my thoughts swirled. Did John really think I was running the services at The Oaks without God… and thinking that’s fine? I certainly didn’t believe that was true. I prayed and prepared for hours each week. I studied and rehearsed to make sure I was fully ready for the services every Sunday. What else did God want from me?
Then, just like an Old Testament prophet, John went “all in” and put his cards on the table. “Scott, I’m telling you right now what I feel God is saying. He’s telling me that you’re going to Him with your plans and your ideas, and you’re saying, ‘Okay God, please let Your anointing be upon this. Be glorified in this service. Please work in people’s lives.’”
John shifted in his seat and looked me straight in the eye. “Scott, when was the last time you were quiet in the service and gave God a minute? When was the last time you actually gave God the opportunity to speak in one of your services?”
So that was it. We were down to the real question. I finally understood. God had sent my friend John to challenge me at the core of my soul. This wasn’t about a program, a style of worship, my teaching, or the order of the service at our church. It was about my heart, my hopes, my faith, and my identity as a pastor. God was asking me to “clear the stage” for His Spirit to work in power and love in our services. He was asking me to relinquish control of Sunday morning –the hours that shaped my identity most powerfully and I protected most carefully –to the control of the Holy Spirit.