I have so many ideas for how to reach Folkestone. Great plans that, at the moment, I can do nothing about. I am hoping to return to work soon. I’m seeing the GP this morning and we will see… But then friends who have heart problems have talked about six months off. Others have talked about going back on light duties being 1 hour per day. I’m half way through series Six of the West Wing and, to be honest, I’m itching to get back & involved in my work. But I may not be able to just yet. See what the doc says.
At church on Sunday I was glad to have made it, but couldn’t get through the service without taking my angina spray. And that was just sitting in the congregation! So with all these ideas in my head it’s got me thinking about ambition, capacity and calling.
As Christians, we should all be wanting to find out the Lord’s will for our lives, and going for it wholeheartedly. Jeremiah the prophet pens words that ring true as God’s dealings with us.
Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
I don’t mean this as a dirty word. We can all be ambitious for stuff. It might be a new car or a holiday. It might be a life partner or a new pair of shoes. I’m ambitious for our church to start working with the poor and disadvantaged in the south east area of Folkestone. I’ve an idea to start a project reaching out to that area of town, looking out from Tontine Street to the Creative Quarter, the bedsits & flats in the Harbour area & then also to the new housing as it is built on the seafront. I’ve another idea to build on our Wednesday work with our lunchtime discipleship class & Activate sports club, to build it all up into ‘Wednesday church’. But at the moment I can do none of it. Zilch. Zero. Nada.
For the time being there is a serious mismatch between my ambition and my capacity. I guess other folk in church could run with these ideas (& if any of you are reading this and are interested do come & chat it over with me). But for me? At the moment? It’s going to have to be a no.
Sometimes people come to me as pastor with an idea. It’s a great idea. Or at least a good idea. But they just don’t have the capacity for it. It might be that, like me at the moment, they don’t really have the energy levels to follow through. They might not have the intellectual capacity. Or really, they haven’t got the time to devote to the project to make it a success. There are any number of practical factors that can thwart somebody’s ambition. There can be a mismatch between ambition and capacity.
The worst, and this is where things can get a little awkward, is when folk don’t have the character needed for a project or a role. If there were two people up a role: one was highly skilled but had a terrible temper, the other poorly skilled but was teachable, I’d go for the second every time. Skills can be learnt but character is much more tricky. Don’t get me wrong. Over time, with the help of the Holy Spirit, all of us can become more Christlike. But sometimes, folk have an ambition for a role or project, but character makes one say ‘not a good idea’.
So we come back to where we started from. Calling. What is it God wants us to do? And here, I feel there needs to be a matching of our ambition and our capacity to hear what God is saying. All my lovely outreach plans are on hold at the moment. My ambition has outstripped my capacity and that is deeply disappointing. It helps me identify with others whose ambitions, however good, are frustrated.
But, in the midst of such thwarted plans I see the calling of God. For he surely has good plans. I’d never have started blogging without this enforced rest. And folk have appreciated the blogs, for which I’m gratified. Maybe this is part of the Lord’s plan for now. And teaching me to dwell in his presence and rush around like a mad thing a little less. This is a good lesson too.
In the light of changed capacities, maybe I’ll find new ambitions (or new ways of fulfilling old ones) and so find God’s calling for these days.