In January 1986 The Space Shuttle Challenger was set to launch. Moments after it left the platform something went terribly wrong. The space shuttle exploded,killing all seven astronauts. On September 11, 2001 four planes were hi-jacked and flown into the Twin Towers in New York and into the Pentagon in Washington, DC. The forth was heroically taken over from the terrorists by other passengers and flown into an empty field in Pennsylvania, killing all aboard, but saving countless other lives.
For my generations these were defining moments.
Throughout our lives there are events that serve to define us. Often times we don’t even see these “defining moments” coming. These defining moments are ordained by God. We can not plan for them and we can not prepare for them. In my experience they usually come when I am not expecting them. Defining moments come in all sorts of shapes and sizes and they look different for each of us.
There have been many moments in my life that have made me the man I am today. But, when I think of my ministry and where It is now there are some moments that stand out.
Passion 2007. Prior to January 2007 I had not felt any specific call on my life, but I did feel a need to get more involved in what God was doing at my church. After talking with pastor about this desire he made arrangements for me to accompany some of our young adults on a trip to Atlanta to attend the Passion Conference. Our small group joined 26,000 others that week as we took over downtown Atlanta to worship God and received great preaching from His word. During one of the sessions Beth Moore spoke on PRIDE and totally rocked my world. During that session I became completely broken. I realized how great a problem I had with pride. This started a change in me that has been a major part of bringing me to where I am today. I will not say that I have completely conquered pride, but I have beaten it down and it is not the problem that it once was.
My call. I didn’t know it at the time, but the message that God sent me that day, through Beth Moore was setting me up for the biggest defining moment of my life, my call to ministry. I don’t think that I will ever forget it. It was just a regular Sunday like any other. It was during the invitation time at the end of the service. I stood in the same spot that I always stood, and still do. I had not previous had any thoughts of full-time ministry. Then, while we sang I found myself compelled to go up from and talk with pastor. I had not previously spoken to my wife about it. But, in that moment I knew that HAD to go up from. I was unable to stay in my spot. I knew that God was calling me to ministry and I had to respond.
Orange 2012. Something really changed inside of me during the 2012 Orange conference. From the amazing worship, to the people I met, to the great speakers it was one amazing moment after another. I also believe that it was ordained by God because it was only in the weeks prior to the event and from a casual comment made to a friend that I was even able to be there. But, perhaps more that anything else it was the time spent sharing a hotel room with someone that I had never met that had the greatest impact on me. You see, in order to save my church a few bucks I put out a message looking for someone to split the cost of the hotel room. Each night Joe Mcapline and I sat in our hotel room and talked. We would recap the main sessions and talk about the different breakouts we attended. We spent some time getting to know each other and shared a little about our different ministries. It was during this time that Joe took the time to pour into me. He offered words of encouragement that served to convince me that I had more value than I was giving myself credit for. This started something building within me that gave me the confidence to finally step out and seek what God was calling me to. I believe that this conversation lead me to where I am today.
Defining moments come in all shapes and sizes. They look different for each one of us. Each of us needs to be open to these defining moments. We need to look for God to bring us to these defining moments in our lives. We need to watch for them and, when they come, we need to remember them. God provides these moments to build us to who He wants us to be. Don’t run from them. Sometimes the moments will be great moments in our lives. Sometimes they will be painful. Let’s learn to embrace these moments and allow God to use them to make us who HE wants us to be.
As ministry leaders we need to work to create opportunities for God to work in peoples lives. We need to seek God’s guidance and follow His direction in how we run our ministries so that the people we minister to can be in a position to experience these defining moments. We can not create defining moments, but we can set up environments that God might use to create defining moments.
As parents it can be really hard to let our children out from under the protection of our wing. BUT, we need to be willing to step beyond what is comfortable so that our children might experience defining moments. I have seen many youth experience defining moments during youth camp. This required that their parents allow them to travel hours from home, to stay in a hotel room, to ride in a van or bus. This required that, for a few days, these parents let go of there child and trust God to keep them safe and to work in their lives.
We never know what defining moments might come. Often time, even in the midst of the moment, we don’t realize that defining moment is happening. Pray that God will bring defining moments to your life. Pray that He will help you recognize it and grow from it. What sort of defining moments have you experienced?