When God Says, “Not right now…”

Reflecting on outcomes; not letting outcomes reflect us

Reading Time: 7 minutes

You’re passionate about a new opportunity. You’ve applied for a new role. You’ve been nominated for leadership. You know God is stirring up a passion for new ideas and strategic initiatives in your life, but for some reason the outcome doesn’t match the passion. The opportunity closes. The job is awarded to another person. Another candidate is chosen. What happens when God says, “Not right now…?”

When God Says Not Right Now

Can I be vulnerable for a minute?

I’ve never gone looking for leadership, but leadership seems to comes looking for me. Usually I chalk it up to personality, but if I were to be real honest, God has created a passion in me to make a difference. Some call it optimism; I call it following God’s vision. And I’m stubborn enough to believe it.

It’s a humbling story though, because sometimes when you open yourself up to opportunities, God says, ‘Not right now…’
I remember my first ‘job hunt.’ I heard way more ‘not right now’ responses than job offers. In fact, I only received one offer. And even though it was only a couple months after graduation, that time of searching seemed like eternity. The sound of ‘not right now’ seemed to resonate louder than any opportunity.

Even when we entered the ministry, a few years later, my wife and I experienced a very similar narrative. We wanted to start as an assistant or youth pastor, but doors closed and the answer seemed to be a resounding: ‘Not right now!”

Rejection leads to disappointment, and repeated disappointment leads to questioning the future. And a few months of experiencing that, leads to giving up or, even worse, becoming apathetic. For those who don’t know, that’s the ‘meh emoji.’

Because the Kingdom is selfless, and not about ourselves, we can’t afford to become apathetic because we hear, “Not right now.” Instead, we have to continue to remind ourselves of what God is doing in us, and through us, every day of our lives.

I’ve often taken cues from king David. We can read about his shepherding experience as a young man to being anointed as king (without the crown), to finally when he led Israel for forty years as king.

David didn’t look for influence and leadership; rather, influence and leadership found him. It wasn’t a perfect transition either — there were times when David heard, “Not right now.”

Nevertheless, he was passionate, acted in service, and continued to be a person of influence wherever he went.

Here are three things I’ve learned from David and try to implement in my pursuit of Kingdom work:

1. Passion is required for opportunity, but a lack of opportunity doesn’t diminish passion.

David grew close to God in the wilderness as a shepherd boy. He established a dependence on God in the simple things. So much so, that a lion and a bear were of no match (1 Samuel 17:36).

He had nothing to gain, no one to impress, and no opportunity to advance. David simply grew in passion and became fearless for the Lord.

If we are passionate, the right opportunities will arise at the right time. We can’t afford, however, to wait for the opportunity before becoming passionate. When God says, “Not right now…,” it’s not a matter of ‘timing,’ it’s a matter of becoming even more passionate for the Kingdom.

2. God calls one ‘David,’ but many ‘baggage carriers.’

The story of David and Goliath (1 Samuel 17) is a common story, but I bet you overlooked verse 22. David was about to join his brothers, but he was tied up carrying a few things, so:

22 David left the things in charge of the keeper of the baggage and ran to the ranks and went and greeted his brothers.

For one thing, there’s a guy going around with the title ‘keeper of the baggage.’ Not sure how well that looks on a business card, but I digress.

David was one of eight sons and called from among thousands of Israelites. Yes, we can learn from his life and how he trusted in God, but the fact remains — not all of us are called to be ‘king,’ or leader.

But this brief verse does point to something we’re all called to do — that is SERVE.

Let me ask you a big question: If the ‘keeper of the baggage’ wasn’t there to serve, could David fulfill his calling to defeat Goliath?

In order for leaders to be effective, those around them must be willing to passionately serve wherever God has called them. If God is saying, “Not right now…” then we need to respond with, “How and where do I continue to serve?”

3. Continue to be a person of influence.

I had a brief conversation with one of our former premiers recently. I expressed my gratitude towards his leadership and he informed me that his time was almost up. I’m not sure if he fully understood what I said in the brevity of the conversation, but I made mention of how influence is more than ones’ ‘position.’

An opportunity can help gain influence, but influence does not equal opportunity. David had much influence with those around him long before he was blessed with the title of ‘king.’ He was a ‘leader’ without the title.

David had so much influence that he had the respect of Jonathan (the king’s son), even while the king was highly jealous of David and tried to kill him. But it didn’t stop David from living the influential life God called him to live. (You can read about it here: 1 Samuel 19-24)

One of my favourite parts of the story is found in chapter 24. While the king pursued David and his men, David had the opportunity to have his revenge. The king went into a cave to rest and David and his men happened to be in the same cave. His men told him, “This is your chance…” But David’s response is one of an influential leader:

“The Lord forbid that I should do this thing to my lord, the Lord’s anointed, to put out my hand against him, seeing he is the Lord’s anointed.” So David persuaded his men with these words and did not permit them to attack Saul. And Saul rose up and left the cave and went on his way. (1 Samuel 24:6-7)

When the title isn’t on your business card, how do you influence those around you in times of crisis? Influence is leadership, but we don’t have to wait for a title in order to be influential.

When God says, “Not right now…” continue to be a person of influence. You never know how God will use you unless you’re willing to lead without a title.

Your turn…

Have you ever heard the words, “Not right now…”? How do you respond? How do you wish you’d respond?

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Andrew currently lives in Paradise, Newfoundland with his wife, Deidre, and two children (Rae and Pierson), where they are life group pastors of an independent church called True Life. He is a graduate of both Memorial University (BBA) and Tyndale Seminary (MTS). His passion is to help people become true disciples of Jesus.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.