The work I do requires results. I was brought in to lead now-three departments, each in need of a financial turn-around. Given three years to turn them around or shut them down, the only option for me was obvious–if I shut them down I would lost my own job as well. If for nothing else than self-preservation, I set out a three year plan to make a financial difference.
What I ran into throughout were excellent intentions without training in how to execute or make those intentions reality. My team needed a path on which to put their intentions. And more so, they needed to execute. They needed to take the steps necessary to achieve the success we sought. They needed guidance from someone who had been there before, had success before, and could assure them the steps we were taking together would get us where we needed to go. They intended for good, but they needed someone who could lead them there.
And we turned each program around in one year.
It seems so obvious to me in the work world. And yet, I find myself mixing up intentions with execution so frequently in my spiritual life. Paul shares the following in Romans:
“I do not want you to be unaware, brothers, that I have often intended to come to you (but thus far have been prevented)…For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes…For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith…” –Romans 1:13, 16-17, ESV
Paul wanted to come to the Romans. He wanted to preach the gospel to them. Yet he knew that his obligation was to the gospel, not to his intention. Paul’s call was to preach where God called him to go–and if he kept getting way-layed in his attempt to go to Rome, the gospel must be preached wherever Paul was.
Paul put the preaching of the gospel as supremacy in guiding his intentions “for in it the righteousness of God is revealed…” Paul knew why it should be the guiding reason. And he stayed keen to that reason, kept taking steps in that direction, and didn’t get torn up when his intention to visit Rome didn’t pan out.
I have recently found myself choosing intention over the overarching truth when it comes to faith. In my work, the truth of financial turnaround seems simple to my business brain, and so laying aside intentions that are different comes easy. In faith, the same analytical business mind seems to spend too much time in analysis, worrying the details rather than remembering the overarching truth: I am called to follow where God leads. And when I do, I will find Him there showing me where to go and what to do next. I need not get tied up in my own intention, my own analysis, because following Jesus is where the power of God found in the gospel gets us.
So rather than over-analyze this life of faith, I need to spend more time stepping.