Next, Submissive but Not Resigned
We are to submit our desires to his good pleasure—that is hard sometimes, isn’t it? This can be a challenge when enrollment or donors aren’t where we want them to be and we are tempted to question why we are serving in a particular place or market. However, that is where God put us and how we move forward demonstrates a powerful message to those we work with.
Remember he is good. We aren’t submitting our will to a tyrant. We are submitting our will to the one who loves us more than we can imagine and knows us better than we can know ourselves. Jesus said it and leads the way, not my will, but yours. Is it easier because of that? Not really.
“Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.” (Romans 12:12)
We submit in hope knowing he hears our prayers and knowing he is good.
“In my distress I called upon the Lord; to my God I cried for help. From his temple he heard my voice, and my cry to him reached his ears.” (Psalm 18:6)
These are not the words of one who has given up. Rather, casting all our cares on him, we can have confidence that he cares for us.
Submission is easy when you trust the one you are submitting to. See how he has been faithful in your life and the lives of others. See it in the life of the church recorded in Scripture. See it and remind others of God’s faithfulness at the school where you serve.
Third, Spiritual but Not Unfeeling
You may have heard the saying, too heavenly minded, to be any earthly good? The reality is, according to God’s economy, the only way to be any earthly good, is to be heavenly (or spiritually) minded.
So, what should we pray for? Pray for salvation; for joy; for a teachable heart; for God’s glory and supremacy over all. These are things we see recorded in scripture.
In Acts 4 when Peter and John are released from prison, they gather with other followers and report what happened to them, this is what is recorded:
“And when they heard it, they lifted their voices together to God and said, Sovereign Lord, who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and everything in them, who through the mouth of our father David, your servant, said by the Holy Spirit. Why did the Gentiles rage, and the peoples plot in vain? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers were gathered together, against the Lord and against his Anointed’ for truly in this city they were gathered together against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, to do whatever your hand and your plan had predestined to take place. And now, Lord, look upon their threats and grant to your servants to continue to speak your word with all boldness, while you stretch out your hand to heal, and signs and wonders are performed through the name of your holy servant Jesus.”
They prayed for boldness. That’s the model for us. Not comfort. Not removal of difficulties. Boldness. We ought to desire these things for one another as Paul did for the Ephesians when he said,
“I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, 17 that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you…”
Paul prayed for wisdom. He desired that for the Ephesians knowing that it was what God would use to mature them and bless them. It is also interesting to see what Jesus prayed for in his prayer in John 17—
- He prayed for our perseverance as Christians. (17:11, 15, 24)
- He prayed for our unity. (17:11, 21-23)
- He prayed for our growth in personal holiness. (17:17)
- He prayed for our witness to those who are not yet Christians. (17:20, Matt. 28:16-20, Acts 1:8)
Why is unity so important? It improves our witness to a watching world, it brings us together as one to accomplish God’s purpose.
Focusing on the spiritual is not to diminish real physical needs—realities of life. But as we grow in Christ, it is a testimony to the world that we do not grieve as those without hope. We do not fear as those without a protector. We do not desire things the same way as those with no eternal inheritance.
Paul tells the Colossians,
“If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.”
As ones raised with Christ, we have a new home. That ought to impact the things that matter to us. And it ought to lead us to pray more for things like wisdom, courage, a pure heart and clean mind.
Can we honestly say, to live is Christ and to die is gain? Can we say, even so, Lord Jesus come quickly? These are spiritual desires that ought to matter to us if we are in Christ. We don’t get these desires by beating ourselves up if we don’t have them. Instead, we get them by knowing more fully what life in Christ means by knowing his Word and growing in that knowledge.
Through these elements, we can show our teams, families, students the right thinking about the posture of prayer. We teach good theology. We model spiritual maturity. We can practice spiritual disciplines. We do this as part of the integrated biblical worldview permeating throughout our organization.
Paul T. Neal (paul.neal@cace.) is Sr. Vice President for Marketing and Enrollment at Cairn University and co-founder of Charter Oak Research where he serves as Principal and Chief Research Officer. Charter Oak Research is a marketing research and consulting firm focused on resourcing and supporting Christian schools and colleges, other Christian ministries and for profit organizations. Charter Oak brings marketing research to bear on the strategy and tactics of enrollment and advancement needs of clients to improve brand awareness, perception and sustainability. Paul has presented and been published on: the use of normative data in analysis, respondent motives, trends in education and online communities and respondent quality. Prior to founding Charter Oak Research, Paul was a Principal at Olson Research Group for 15 years as well as serving as the Associate Director of the Center for the Study of Federalism at Temple University responsible for qualitative research on political culture and U.S. Public Policy. Paul has served as an adjunct faculty member at several Philadelphia area universities. Paul is a graduate of Eastern (B.A.) and Villanova (M.A.) Universities and attended Temple University for further graduate study.