John and James were two of Jesus’ disciples, brothers who were young with idealist aspirations, called to ministry with an awesome promised destiny of glory. Their questions often reflected an anticipation for Jesus to setup His Kingdom then, asking, “Will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” (Acts 1:6 ESV)
Rightly, their sense of destiny and promised leadership was given to them by the Lord. But how they understood their leadership journey differed greatly to what the Lord had intended.
Conspiring together, one day their mother approached Jesus, asking, “Say that these two sons of mine are to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your kingdom.” (Matthew 20:21)
Young and naively exuberant, their request soon upset the rest of the disciples who were indignant that these two brothers would ask for the “best seats”. This was also against the background of Jesus chiding the Pharisees for loving the best seats in the synagogues. Jesus also taught the same in a parable: “When you are invited by someone to a wedding feast, do not sit down in a place of honour, lest someone more distinguished than you be invited by him…” (Luke 14:8 ESV)
John and James both had a sense of destiny, but in that instance, were trying to accelerate God’s leadership intentions for them. The lesson for us, as children of God with awesome and great promises of glory reigning with Christ, we must never try to pre-empt God’s purpose and plan.
An excellent example of living on God’s timing was set by the young David who was anointed to be the next king in Israel. However, instead of being catapulted into the top seat, the throne of ancient Israel, David spent many years as a wrongly-accused fugitive, vigorously pursued by the incumbent king Saul.
In one of those pursuits where David’s life was being sought, as chance would have it, Saul entered a cave not knowing that David and his men were hiding in the innermost parts of the cave. There, David had the opportune moment to end his troubles; his men in fact encouraged him to kill king Saul.
Despite being prompted by his loyal men, David said, “I will not stretch out my hand against my lord, for he is the LORD’s anointed.” (1 Samuel 24:10)
David waited on God’s timing and purpose rather than his own understanding of events, and in a stunning act of faith, trusted the righteousness of God above his own rights. David did not try to accelerate God’s purpose for him.
Likewise, today, in our calling and ministry, we also have an awesome identity in our Heavenly Father and His Son, Jesus Christ. We too are offered glory, power, and life eternal. For the work we’re called to do in this life, the Holy Spirit conveys to us not only just how special we are in our Father’s eyes, but also often a clear and prevailing sense of destiny and purpose. But like David who trusted in God’s timing, and as John and James quickly learned, we must never try to accelerate God’s plan for us. Christian leaders always wait on God’s timing.