Don’t wait until you’re ready. It’s the fifth in a series of traits for successful people in the secular world that we’re looking at. However, we’re also seeing how these same traits can be applied to becoming a “successful” Christian. Someone who not only has an idea what Christianity is really about, but who also lives it. Finally, who also does the Great Commission and not what Dallas Willard calls the Great Omission.
With that in mind, here’s the fifth, from 23 Things Successful People Never Do on bestlifeonline.com: Don’t wait until you’re ready.
When major opportunities arrive, they’re going to feel overwhelming and daunting—that’s what makes them major! But successful people power through the feeling that they don’t have enough experience and can’t meet the challenge. Don’t let your self-doubt keep you from trying.
“You will never be fully ready to start that business, or ask for that promotion, so be as prepared as you can, but then dive in headfirst,” says Dinneen. “If you wait until you’re ready, you’ll be waiting your entire life.”
Don’t wait until you’re ready
If you wait until you’re ready, you’ll be waiting your entire life. OK, I’ll go along with that part. Even with: be as prepared as you can, but then dive in headfirst. The question becomes – when are we as ready as we can be?
In secular life, it means we do research. Within a reasonable amount of time, learn as much as we can about whatever the opportunity is that we’re looking at. It’s often called “Doing due diligence”. Maybe it’s my personal problem with that phrase, but I don’t like it. It feels like whenever I heard those words at work, it was about doing the minimal amount necessary to make sure the blame didn’t fall on the person doing that “due diligence”. Somehow, that doesn’t seem like a Christian way to look at life. Not for someone who does everything for the glory of God.
The thing I do agree with is be as prepared as you can, based on the significance of the opportunity. Also, on the part about feeling overwhelmed and daunted. If we don’t feel like that when big opportunities come around, it might be time to be concerned. Maybe we’re overconfident. Or maybe we’re so under-prepared for what we’re getting into that we don’t realize just how big it is.
Don’t wait until ____ (is) ready?
That’s all good stuff for the secular world. But we’re taking this to look at what it takes to be a successful Christian. Hopefully this part’s obvious, but we really ought to wait until God’s ready.
When God’s not ready – an Old Testament example
Yes – this is going to be Old Testament. But still, part of the reason we need to know the Old Testament is to learn from it. And yes, that last statement does come from the New Testament.
1Co 10:1 For I do not want you to be ignorant of the fact, brothers, that our forefathers were all under the cloud and that they all passed through the sea. 2 They were all baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea. 3 They all ate the same spiritual food 4 and drank the same spiritual drink; for they drank from the spiritual rock that accompanied them, and that rock was Christ. 5 Nevertheless, God was not pleased with most of them; their bodies were scattered over the desert.
1Co 10:6 Now these things occurred as examples to keep us from setting our hearts on evil things as they did. 7 Do not be idolaters, as some of them were; as it is written: “The people sat down to eat and drink and got up to indulge in pagan revelry.” 8 We should not commit sexual immorality, as some of them did—and in one day twenty-three thousand of them died. 9 We should not test the Lord, as some of them did—and were killed by snakes. 10 And do not grumble, as some of them did—and were killed by the destroying angel.
1Co 10:11 These things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us, on whom the fulfillment of the ages has come. 12 So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall! 13 No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.
Here are two verses I want to focus on for this topic.
1Co 10:11 These things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us, on whom the fulfillment of the ages has come.
Yes – warnings for us. And while the topic Paul wrote about was the Exodus, there are plenty of other events to learn from as well. Like the one we’re about to look at.
12 So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall!
This covers the concept of really being ready. Knowing that we’re pursuing God’s will. Not to mention keeping Him, the Holy Spirit, with us. Also, it’s a warning about being overconfident.
With those things in mind, here’s what happened when King Saul of Israel didn’t consult with God.
1Sa 13:1 Saul was thirty years old when he became king, and he reigned over Israel forty- two years.
1Sa 13:2 Saul chose three thousand men from Israel; two thousand were with him at Micmash and in the hill country of Bethel, and a thousand were with Jonathan at Gibeah in Benjamin. The rest of the men he sent back to their homes.
As we’ll see, Saul is sending some of the men off to war. It’s Old Testament times. Something that happens fairly often in the early days of Israel. Seems fairly normal, for those times.
1Sa 13:3 Jonathan attacked the Philistine outpost at Geba, and the Philistines heard about it. Then Saul had the trumpet blown throughout the land and said, “Let the Hebrews hear!” 4 So all Israel heard the news: “Saul has attacked the Philistine outpost, and now Israel has become a stench to the Philistines.” And the people were summoned to join Saul at Gilgal.
This doesn’t sound good. now Israel has become a stench to the Philistines. What do the people know? Why are they saying this?
1Sa 13:5 The Philistines assembled to fight Israel, with three thousand chariots, six thousand charioteers, and soldiers as numerous as the sand on the seashore. They went up and camped at Micmash, east of Beth Aven. 6 When the men of Israel saw that their situation was critical and that their army was hard pressed, they hid in caves and thickets, among the rocks, and in pits and cisterns. 7 Some Hebrews even crossed the Jordan to the land of Gad and Gilead.
Things aren’t going well. Very unusual for this period in Israel’s history.
Saul remained at Gilgal, and all the troops with him were quaking with fear. 8 He waited seven days, the time set by Samuel; but Samuel did not come to Gilgal, and Saul’s men began to scatter.
Things are getting worse. Saul – the King of Israel, quaking with fear. Why?
9 So he said, “Bring me the burnt offering and the fellowship offerings.’” And Saul offered up the burnt offering. 10 Just as he finished making the offering, Samuel arrived, and Saul went out to greet him.
This is good. Doing burnt offerings and fellowship offerings. Isn’t it?
1Sa 13:11 “What have you done?” asked Samuel.
Maybe it wasn’t good. Not good at all.
Saul replied, “When I saw that the men were scattering, and that you did not come at the set time, and that the Philistines were assembling at Micmash, 12 I thought, ‘Now the Philistines will come down against me at Gilgal, and I have not sought the LORD’S favor.’ So I felt compelled to offer the burnt offering.”
1Sa 13:13 “You acted foolishly,” Samuel said. “You have not kept the command the LORD your God gave you; if you had, he would have established your kingdom over Israel for all time. 14 But now your kingdom will not endure; the LORD has sought out a man after his own heart and appointed him leader of his people, because you have not kept the LORD’S command.”
What happened? Why was Samuel so upset at Saul?
Saul waited seven days for Samuel to appear in Gilgal. Each day more of his troops were deserting. Finally Saul ordered burnt offerings and peace offerings to be prepared. He himself seems to have officiated at the sacrifice. Just as Saul finished offering the burnt offering, Samuel appeared. Saul went out to greet him as though nothing were amiss (13:8–10).
Samuel demanded an explanation for Saul’s action. The king defended himself with three arguments. First, he blamed his actions on the people. They were scattering, and he needed to do something to boost morale. Second, he blamed Samuel: You (the pronoun is emphatic in the Hebrew) did not appear within the appointed days. Third, he blamed the Philistines. They were assembling at Michmash for an all-out attack on Israel. Saul was convinced that the Philistines would attack him at Gilgal. Offering sacrifices before a holy war was customary. Therefore, the king said: “I forced myself” to offer the burnt offering (13:11–12).
Samuel did not bother to answer any of Saul’s excuses. He simply stated a twofold assessment of the king’s actions. First, Saul had acted foolishly; and second, he had disobeyed the commandment of Yahweh. Had he been obedient Saul would have been the founder of a long-lived dynasty. Now, however, the divine sentence is that Saul’s dynasty would not endure. Yahweh had already sought out for himself “a man after his own heart.” This unnamed man would become the ruler of God’s people because Saul had not done what the Lord had commanded him (13:13–14). Smith, J. E. (1995). The Books of History (1 Sa 13:8–14). Joplin, MO: College Press.
Do you know what Saul did wrong? Why was he doing a Sin Offering to The Lord and then a Fellowship Offering to Him as well? Because Saul didn’t seek wisdom from The Lord before the attack. Saul’s first interaction with The Lord regarding the attack was when he led the Sin Offering. He knew he messed up. He attacked without approval. Saul was ready to attack. But God wasn’t. Saul didn’t wait. He just dove in headfirst.
1Sa 13:15 Then Samuel left Gilgal and went up to Gibeah in Benjamin, and Saul counted the men who were with him. They numbered about six hundred.
Waiting for God in the New Testament
Let’s move to New Testament times. The New Covenant. Love is in the air, so to speak. Jesus’ kind of Love.
The beginning of the book of Acts speaks to waiting for God. It’s the New Covenant version of what Saul should have done.
Ac 1:1 In my former book, Theophilus, I wrote about all that Jesus began to do and to teach
Ac 1:2 until the day he was taken up to heaven, after giving instructions through the Holy Spirit to the apostles he had chosen.
Ac 1:3 After his suffering, he showed himself to these men and gave many convincing proofs that he was alive. He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God.
Ac 1:4 On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command: “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about.
Ac 1:5 For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.”
Jesus tells them to wait. Even if they think they’re ready, wait. ‘Cause they aren’t really ready. The Father has a gift for them.
Ac 1:6 So when they met together, they asked him, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?”
Ac 1:7 He said to them: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority.
Ac 1:8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
And now we know what the gift is. The Holy Spirit. For the disciples, they didn’t have the Holy Spirit yet. As Jesus points out, John baptized with water.
But now, we are baptized in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. For us, waiting is done via prayer. Waiting until the Holy Spirit is ready for us to act. But still – don’t wait for ourselves to be ready. Because it’s not necessarily going to be something easy.
Ac 1:9 After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight.
Ac 1:10 They were looking intently up into the sky as he was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them.
Ac 1:11 “Men of Galilee,” they said, “why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.”
For more on that last part, looking intently up into the sky please check out Why do you stand here looking into the sky? It also has more on wait versus don’t wait.
Don’t wait – life with the Holy Spirit
I’m not going to tell you how to recognize the Holy Spirit. It’s such a personal thing. And it’s not like it’s one-size fits all. There are different ways of “hearing” from the Holy Spirit. One requirement though – is honest and real prayer. As in Prayer is a two way conversation.
And life with the Holy Spirit is about more than just, “should I do something”. It’s about everything. As Paul wrote –
Gal 5:16 So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature. 17 For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under law.
Gal 5:19 The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; 20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21 and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.
Gal 5:22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. 24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. 25 Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.
So don’t wait until you’re ready. But do wait until the Holy Spirit is ready.
|↑1||Smith, J. E. (1995). The Books of History (1 Sa 13:8–14). Joplin, MO: College Press.|