…or when things don’t go as planned.

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You’ve worked hard all week on an amazing message. The illustrations are poignant and powerful. People will get teary eyed when you drop your perfect tweetable line in the conclusion. You can’t wait to preach. You know this will be one of the most life changing messages you have ever communicated.

Then it happens.


Whatever “it” is.

It happens.

You have to zig instead of zag. The entire night has to be changed because your pastoral heart knows that the people need something else. They don’t need your life changing sermon. They need a different message. Maybe they don’t need a message at all, just time and space to be together. Who knows? But what is evident, is that you have to flex.

Many of us pastors create strategic plans. We have plans for three, five, ten, and fifteen years out. We know exactly how we want everything to work out in our ministry.

The strategies, we believe in them.

The principles, we own them.

The language, we can communicate it.

The passion, we exude it.

The vision, we proclaim it.

We are leaders and we know it. We are the alphas and we will lead our people to the promise land. We will change the world.

God often has other plans for us though. Or maybe it’s just that we live in a broken world and our plans, strategies, and principles are for the ideal and we don’t live in the ideal.

When you are doing life and ministry in the real world, not in the vacuum of a book or seminar, things are messy. Life is messy. People are messy. Messiness means that we have to hold things with a loose grip. There will be times we must be flexible.

Yet, in the midst of being flexible we must also seek to obey. There is an obedience of faithfulness that we have to embrace. Our calling, our vision, our passion, our principles, assuming they come from God, are good and we need to faithfully pursue them. Flexibility in ministry does not mean that we abandon what God is calling us to do in the big picture. Flexibility in the moment allows us to remain obedient in the long run.

Flex and obey, there is no other way.