God’s Projects

Just a few weeks ago the National Football League conducted their annual draft. That’s the process each year where each team selects the eligible, outstanding college player that they may want to bring on their team to help them to improve. It is a supposedly scientific venture as they measure, test, check everything about a player, and think they are picking the most valuable one at the time for their team. Still, it’s an inexact science. Some of the people who look to have so much potential will fail, and others who are drafted seem to blossom later as time goes on.

Most of the time the most outstanding players go in the first few rounds of selection. In the later rounds, commentators and even the team gurus refer to some of the players that are taken as “projects.” What they mean is the player has the skills, but many of his skills need to be improved. He’s got potential but will have to work hard to get there. He is a project in the making. The player may not be ready next year or the next, but the gurus have faith that he will improve and the project will pay off.

I’m not a big draft guy and only watch to see if some college players in which I have interest get drafted. However, some people are just obsessed with the draft, even the so-called projects that are chosen for future development. I read and listened enough to what was going on at the draft to get me to thinking about how many times Jesus drafted or chose a project as one of His disciples. I suppose it’s fair to say that when He chose Simon, apparently in the first round of that draft process, He chose a huge project that needed a lot of improvement and a great deal of skill-honing — so much so that at the very time He picked him to be one of His disciples, He told him, “You are Simon, but that’s not what you’re going to stay. You are going to become Peter,” literally the rock, and sure enough over the years Jesus’ touch in his life reshaped him and ultimately Simon Peter became the solid rock dedicated to serving Jesus.

In truth, all the Jesus’ disciples were projects. There Jesus was, selecting men who weren’t educated by classic means, were ignorant and unlearned as they would be referred to, but they were going to have to preach sermons and write books in such a manner that until this day we feast spiritually on what they gave us. Far beyond those first disciples, I think of we who are disciples now. In fact, none of us started out at our best. We started out blessed, but we had a long way to go and probably many of us still do, to be where the Lord really wants us to be and what He wants us to achieve.

What will it take to know and to grow to excel to reach our potential, for the project each of us are to be all that God wants us to be? It’s probably a long list but let me just give you three quick thoughts of how a project can become an effective servant for Jesus.

The first thing I would suggest is determination. If you don’t want to grow in the Lord, it’s doubtful you will. If you want to know the fullness of what He has for you, you must be determined to give yourself to Him, walk with Him, trust Him, and live in relationship where He can take all that you are and make that even better. You have to have a determination. I often recall the old cliché that practice makes perfect. I understand what that means, but I understand more since someone enlarged on the idea and added, “It’s not practice that makes perfect, but it’s perfect practice that makes perfect.” There is a real truth in that. We have to keep the highest standards of excellence and commitment in following Jesus. We each have to determine for ourselves that this will be the standard if we’re going to be a project that becomes a blessing at the hands of the One who created us.

A second attribute that is needed is discipline. It’s interesting to watch some football and basketball and baseball players who have so much talent, great vision, wonderful reflexes, incredible strength, and yet are not disciplined enough to harness all that so that they would become valuable to the team. Discipline is a vital piece of any person’s life in achieving what God has in store for them. I often tell groups of folks that the only original thought that I ever had was, “Giftedness without discipline is a curse.” Sadly, I have watched people with tremendous gifts — great musical ability, great speaking ability, a wonderful personality, or great mental acumen — never achieve what they could and should because of their lack of discipline. They could not harness their giftedness and too often lived outside the bounds even of right and wrong. Their giftedness made them think they could do whatever they wanted whenever they wanted to do it, and that began to erode their giftedness to the point that they had no effectiveness at all.

A third thought about helping us to grow in our potential as a project is our destination. What will you look like if you become one of the starters on Jesus’ team? Where will it take you? Eventually, you will not just be a star. You will become more and more like Jesus. His plan for every one of our lives is not that we just become spiritual celebrities, but that you and I become a project that is turned into the likeness of Jesus so that when folks see us, they’ll see what Jesus looks like. When they hear us or sense our spirit, they will catch a drift of what Jesus looks like, thinks like, talks like, how He treats people. You and I — in fact everyone I know — is a project in process. Allow this day to be a day that Jesus touches you in various areas of your life and shapes one more of those pieces to be just like Him. God help you and God bless you.

The author can be contacted at directions@mbcb.org.

Jim Futral

Executive Director-Treasurer