In Exodus 35 and 36, Moses begins fundraising for a building program that would eclipse The Crystal Cathedral in today’s currency. As soon as God finishes downloading the blueprint in fine detail, Moses, having no reference for a building project of this magnitude, simply imparts the vision to the people.
A wise proverb states that without a vision, the people perish or in the Berkeley translation, they run wild. That fact was proven in Chapter 32 with the golden calf episode where thousands literally perished because they lost sight of the Promised Land. But now the Hebrews are back on track.
With ready and willing hearts, the people present not only their offerings but themselves to carry out the intricate work of constructing the tabernacle. The Scripture shows us that God had specific people in mind for the various tasks at hand. Not only does He prepare them and place gifts, skills and abilities in them commensurate with the needs, God stirs their hearts with a willingness and a desire to do the work. Now that’s a concept.
It’s worth noting that the people didn’t have to be coerced into giving. No pledge forms, no special offerings for the building program and no weekly reminders of the bills that were coming due. Verse 21 says that each man’s heart stirred him up and every one whom his spirit made willing brought the Lord’s offering to the work of the tabernacle.
The word “willing” is used repeatedly throughout this passage. When people are motivated from their hearts to give or do the work of the ministry, you know God is up to something good. But when people are guilt-manipulated into giving or taking on one of the many required jobs within the church, even though the program may appear successful from the outside, God has left the building.
Because Moses’ hands were off the people, they were motivated to give so much that he had to ask them to stop giving. I don’t know any pastor or leader who has ever had that problem. In fact, it’s usually the opposite.
Having worked in several church plants myself, I know the pressure of finances can cause the leader to transfer that pressure to the people instead of bringing it to God. You can easily step beyond the boundaries of leadership responsibility and place the burden on the people. While the leader is responsible for the vision, God is responsible for the provision to see that vision through to completion. Regardless of whether people give what you think they should. Are you looking to God or people to fulfill your vision?
If the finances aren’t there, it’s more than likely because your timing is off. I say your timing because in God’s timing, the provision will be in place. Sometimes it’s because key people aren’t in position. Or the vision is tainted. You may have misinterpreted what God was directing you to do. You may be thinking one thing while He has something completely different in mind. It takes a great deal of patience to wait until the vision is clear and focused and a great deal of wisdom to know when and how to proceed. That’s why God’s timing is important – it allows us to work through all of these issues and be prepared when the time is right.
Continually throughout Scripture you can see this principle at work. David wanted to build a house of the Lord, but he wasn’t the right person for the job. Later, his son Solomon built the most glorious temple to date, but God never lived there. When Nehemiah rebuilt the walls of the temple, every detail fell into place because it was God’s perfect timing.
It’s natural instinct to run ahead of God with a checklist and do what you think He’s telling you to do, only to find you’ve missed the mark. If you haven’t been there, try to learn from someone who has. It hurts.
What God is really interested in is working together and partnering with you in the vision. He makes it easy by giving you everything you need in His timing, including the want-to. The problem is, if you’re used to ignoring those inner promptings, you can easily miss His will.
Here’s a hint: if, during your project, your prayer life has dwindled to nothing and you’re too busy for your primary relationships, red flag.
If you’re headed for a cliff and not seeing the signs, God will send someone into your path to warn you and/or give you clear direction. To clear up a long-standing myth among Christians, it may or may not be a confirmation of what you’ve been hearing, especially if you have blinders on. Case in point: King David didn’t have a clue how far off-course he was until the prophet Nathan called his number.
If, on the other hand, you’re hearing from God step by step, your relationships are in check and you’re receiving encouragement and confirmation along the way, then you might just be on track. Sometimes it’s hard to know the difference until you’ve been there but you can always make adjustments and correct your course along the way.
So how can you ensure that you stay on track with your vision? You need input and accountability from others. I’d like to say it should come from mature and responsible leaders, but that’s not always the case. God used a donkey once and he’s not against using one again in the future. It could be the least expected person in your life or a complete stranger. Your spouse and/or children can often be God’s best messengers if they have your best interests at heart.
Do you have at least one open, honest and transparent relationship where that person can not only encourage, but challenge you to grow and develop as a leader? What about a network of other leaders where you can learn from one another while you both pursue your God-given vision? If you’re standing alone, you won’t be standing for long. You were created for relationship. The sooner you get with the program and find mutual accountability, the sooner you will see your dream and vision succeed.