Before I left on my sabbatical trip, someone said to be curious and to enjoy the moments. On Thursday I drove up the coast north of Sydney intending to visit Waratahpark Earth Sanctuary, where I could see samples of Australian wildlife in their natural habitats. I plugged the name into my GPS, found it in the database, and set out.
Just as I described regarding another unfortunate trip in a previous post, the roads got smaller and rougher, and I again ended up in the middle of almost nowhere, at the end of a road with a house on one side and a chain-locked gate across a driveway in front of me. I asked the lady at the house where the park was and she said the gated driveway was it, but it was permanently closed.
I was disappointed for a moment, but then I thought, “Even if the destination turns out not to exist, the drive to and from is every bit as interesting. I’m in a foreign land and any excuse to go somewhere, even if nothing is at the end, is an enjoyable way to spend the day and see new vistas I’ve never seen before.”
The rest of the day was stress-free as I travelled unhurriedly to the other places I wanted to go see. I went to the Brisbane Water National Park, thinking there would be some interesting exhibits there. No. Again, the GPS took me to the top of a small mountain, along a two kilometre rough dirt road to a small parking lot on the heights between Pearl Beach and Patonga. Nothing there, much. (The tour guide books really must get more specific!) Unperturbed, I got out of the car to look around.
There was a five hundred metre walk down many stairs to a lookout with an incredible view of the sea, the hills and the rocks.
I quite enjoyed that. Then I found a path that went several kilometres down the mountain to Pearl Beach. I went down, enjoyed watching the surf and walking on the beach, and then walked all the way back up.
In a couple of hours of walking, I met a few fellow hikers and had some interesting, short chats. I saw an incredible rock formation I would never have seen if I had not wondered what was down the path. The picture doesn’t do it justice – the overhang was very large and there was room to stand underneath it.
And on the way back, I heard a rustling, clicking sort of sound that lasted one or two seconds, looked down and saw a porcupine just a few feet from me with all the quills bristling. It was huddling at the side of the road trying to look like a rock.
So I had a great day, and while the journey was planned, what I did along it was not at all what I had planned to do. The journey turned out to be the destination. The journey was the point of the day.
Enjoy the journey!
This idea applies to how we lead our ministries. We are usually goal-driven leaders, but I think the journey is more important to God than the results. Results are important, but in the end, God will get done what he wants done, and Revelation 21 and 22 are pretty confident about the ultimate destination being reached.
What matters most to God, in my humble opinion, is the journey we take to get results. How we conduct our mission is more important than achieving our vision. Think of Jeremiah, one of my two favourite prophets (the other is Elijah). He was told right off the bat that he would not be successful. God said no one would listen to him. But he was to preach regardless! Jeremiah was a complete failure in the world’s eyes and a complete success in God’s. He was faithful in all that he did. He was a righteous servant of God.
Anyone in vocational Christian ministry needs to ask, “Have I been a faithful servant of God, manifesting his character and the qualities of his kingdom in every aspect of doing my job?”
- Are the operational practices of your ministry a witness to God?
- Does your approach to planning leave room for God to lead you?
- Do your employment practices reflect proper care for all staff?
- Are your relations with other ministries appropriate considering that they also are members of the same body of Christ that you are part of?
Focus on doing the journey well, and the results should flow as a natural consequence.