Over the course of my career, I’ve taken my fair share of criticism, particularly at times when people didn’t like the decisions I made or strategies I chose to implement. While I’ve learned to keep the opinions others express about my decisions in perspective, I’ve also learned that not being bothered doesn’t mean I shouldn’t be reflective. Are the decisions I’m making too driven by strategy and logic? Have I squeezed the Holy Spirit out of the mix, or is He active in leading me as I engage in prayer, study, and conversation with fellow believers? Am I seeking out the wisdom of others who can offer a different perspective on a given situation? Have I become so sentimental that I’m unwilling to let go of something that God is done using?
This time of year normally lends itself to these sort of questions. As Moody Center ends this rather unique year, however, I find myself doing less and less looking back and more and more looking forward. In part, I’ve been feeling less of a need to reflect because Moody Center’s leadership and staff have spent a great deal of time praying, considering different short- and long-term plans, speaking with individuals who have been kind enough to lend their wisdom and expertise to our thinking and planning, and refining our thoughts so that we move ahead with strong theological and strategic moorings. I find myself less inclined toward reflection on the events of the past year because of the depth of prayer and thought that has been put into Moody Center’s future.
Surely there will be ways to improve on the plans we’ve made this past year. I always anticipate changes and shifts as time and contexts change. No matter how good our plans are, they are never perfect. Like any set of plans, there will be some who will oppose and critique. Some will do so in a way that is constructive, calm, and helpful. Others will use unfounded innuendo, incorrect information, and a false narrative to disrupt what is happening. Yet, despite the recognition that no plan is perfect and the disappointment that comes as some react with misplaced frustration and anger, I find myself moving forward with a great deal of confidence that we are moving in a God-directed fashion.
Moving in a God-directed fashion won’t guarantee success. There is no expectation that God is required to reward our faithful-yet-flawed efforts by providing our organization with health and wealth. We do not act faithfully to manipulate God or somehow bind him to making our plans work. Rather, we act faithfully because we know of no other way to live in a world created by a benevolent, wise, and sovereign Lord who has granted us salvation through His Son and ongoing guidance through the Holy Spirit. We are hopeful that our efforts will advance the Kingdom of God even if Moody Center’s plans go astray like those of so many mice and men.
So, as we move toward the end of one year and look forward to the next, we are calm. We seek to participate with God as He brings revival through the body of Christ in New England and beyond. We will continue to seek God’s direction through prayer, to press ahead with the plans we’ve made, and to remain malleable and open to the Holy Spirit. We are committed to moving forward faithfully. We ask that you would join with us in prayer for direction as we move into 2021.
JAMES SPENCER, PHD is President the D.L. Moody Center, an independent non-profit organization based in Northfield, MA, and author of Useful to God: Eight Lessons from the Life of D. L. Moody and Thinking Christian: Essays on Testimony, Accountability, and the Christian Mind
Photo credit: Olia Danilevich