Every once in awhile I come across an indiscretion within the body of Christ. It is something that in some circles is considered normal but ultimately reveals itself to be the precursor to much bad fruit. It is this thing about permission and an assumed ownership of each other’s gifting and callings.
I remember many years ago sitting in a church service listening to a message regarding the verse, “To him who has been given much, much is required” and immediately through my mind ran a litany of all the things I had been given.
Now, the Lord had already been telling me for some years that one day I would be impacting many, many people around the world. I was slowly adjusting to this thought and preparing myself for this work of the Lord that was still off in some distant future.
But I was, as is normal, looking to those around me for other’s approval, and in some cases permission. I wanted to be given a thumbs-up by those I respected and those closest to me. There was still a very large part of me that needed approval and permission.
Yet, as I was reminded that much would be required of me, I saw myself in the throne room of heaven before the King of the universe and I imagined my current ‘reasoning’, brought forward through time to the end of my life, laid out before God.
I could see myself one day standing in the throne room of heaven saying this to God,
“Well, God, you see, my husband didn’t agree.”
“Well, God, you see, my pastor didn’t approve.”
“And, God, don’t you know, I had to wash the dishes.”
And I got it, that these ‘reasons’ were merely excuses, and that they WOULD NOT STAND before my Lord God, the Living King of the entire universe. And into my spirit came a holy fear of the Lord. The realization that I would give account one day for my life. That I would answer for how I responded to the call of the spirit, or how I avoided him. At that time, I purposed to follow hard after what God was telling me and I became more willing to risk my very life for the cause of the gospel.
Yet, the struggles did not stop. In fact, they got worse. As I continued to slowly yet surely move toward what the Lord was wanting of my life the backlash began to build. And as my confidence and faith in the Lord, as my ears were attuned to Him, the other voices in my life became demanding, over-bearing, oppressive and dismissive.
Not many appreciated that I was moving into a work of the Lord through my life. In fact, most of those close to me at that time, are no longer close. For whatever reason they just couldn’t move with me, through and into the realities of international ministry and influence.
And in that transitional place, the bullying began. For some reason, some people believed that they owned my life and that the calling and the anointing of the Lord over me required their permission and approval.
Of course, as I said, I at first played into this. In my insecurity and lack of faith I sought out this permission and approval until I learned that I was doing them a disservice and that really, I was walking in doubt and disobedience to the Lord; I was putting people on the spot, demanding of them that they approve me. I was bullying them.
So, I stopped. I took great gulps of the Lord and headed off into this time in my life where I am his servant, going where he tells me to go, speaking what he tells me to speak, praying what he shows me to pray. It isn’t rocket science, but it did take something to get me here.
And in the years since I have become convinced of a number of things. I am convinced that permission holds no place in the Kingdom of God. I am convinced that we are not called to give or remove our permission from other lives. And I am convinced that we are not to ask or demand permission or approval from others.
Today, as a leader and influencer, as someone who regularly mentors and speaks into many lives, I am keenly aware that when someone brings to me their sense of what God is leading them into, that I am on holy ground.
The call of God upon each life is holy ground and I dare not touch the glory of the Lord. I dare not say yay or nay; who am I to know what God’s plan is for their life? I tread with great care as others share with me their hearing of the Lord.
I’ve learned to be an observer. I watch, I may speak what I am seeing, but always, always with an adjunct that I cannot tell you what God is saying to you or calling you into. That is an intimate conversation between yourself and the Lord and I move carefully upon that holy ground and I will not touch the glory of the Lord through your life.
Nearly five years ago I was told by those intent on owning my life, that I could not possibly have the favor of God, he could not possibly be with me, I could not have his anointing, and that if I did not comply with their oversight of my life that I would not have the covering of the Lord and that I would lose all ministry and influence.
Thank the good Lord that I had learned to hear his voice louder than those ones. Today, the materials that I write are going to fourteen nations. I have invitations to some nineteen nations. I am currently three months in Uganda and it is proving to be too short a time to go everywhere that people would have me. God has proved himself time and again that this is his plan, that he is in charge, and that all the years of his preparation of my heart and life was not my imagination, was not a distortion, but was in fact orchestrated by the God of the universe.
This is why I have learned to observe and to hold back my opinions. I don’t really know what God might have through your life. The people around me thought they knew, but they didn’t know. And their words and admonitions to me, are today proving absurd and profoundly false.
It is important in the body of Christ that we do not take ownership of each others lives. We must not play the game of permission, either giving it or demanding it. Rather, we must each listen for that still soft voice of the Lord that is directing us, is preparing us, is calling us.
Do we get feedback from others? For sure. Do we give feedback? In certain cases, yes, of course. We want the corporate wisdom that is found in the body of Christ. But we must never cross that line of demanding or forcing permission; when we do so, we are touching the glory of God in each other, something we must be very careful, never to do.
On that day when we all stand before our God, we will not be able to pull out a reasonable excuse for our lack of obedience to the Lord. Claiming that our small group leader, for instance, didn’t give permission will be revealed ludicrous in light of the Lord, his plans, and of eternity.
This is what Jesus was talking about when he said, “If anyone come to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, even his own life, he cannot be my disciples.” Luke 14:26
We must take our hands off of the glory of God as he is revealed through each other. Who are we to know how the Lord is leading in any of our lives. He wants to do amazing things after all, far beyond what we can imagine or know.
Have your way with us Lord.