You are walking into a classroom and the teacher at the front of the room asks everyone to take a seat as she announces that she is handing out a test. Maybe it is a pop quiz or just a regular test that you forgot about. It really is irrelevant – you know you are not prepared. Immediately this sense of dread comes over you and you wonder what you will do. Then you wake up.
I am sure you have had the dream. Everyone has likely had it at one time or another, in one form or another. Some even experience it as a recurring dream. It is certainly not a dream that you enjoy having because of that intense feeling of dread that always comes with a knot in the pit of your stomach.
Unless you just enjoy that feeling, you hate these dreams. The one thing you know you would hate even more than one of these dreams is for this to happen in real life. To face a test in real life, knowing that you are not at all prepared, is a scary thought.
Even if this is true, what does it have to do with Christian business owners and leaders?
Actually, this dream has a lot of application in the lives and businesses of Christian leaders. Before we discuss that, let’s first take a look at Scripture.
Consider it a great joy, my brothers, whenever you experience various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. But endurance must do its complete work, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking nothing. – James 1:2-4
A man who endures trials is blessed, because when he passes the test he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love Him. – James 1:12
Testing Our Faith
If you are not familiar with the first chapter of James, then you need to take a couple of minutes right now and read it HERE. As you can see, James starts right out talking about trials and testing of our faith. Then, in verse 12 above, he mentions the reward we will see when we pass the test.
If you have taken the step of faith and committed your life to following Jesus, then you are not a stranger to trials or tests. As Christians, we face them all of the time. In some cases, these tests are small ones. Other times, the tests seem like they are going to crush us.
We Are Being Prepared
What I am not sure most Christians realize is that these trials and tests we face daily are actually meant to help us get prepared for future tests and trials! And those are designed to get us prepared for more tests in the more distant future. It goes on and on!
Look at James 1:4 again. James says that that final goal is for us to be mature and complete, not lacking anything. In Romans 8, Paul says that God’s goal for us is to be conformed to the likeness of Jesus. That is a tall order!
To be honest, I am not a Bible scholar and cannot tell you exactly what that means. I do think I understand that the general idea is that God is using the trials in this life to mold us to look more like Jesus.
If that is true, then we really should face our trials with joy, knowing they are moving us closer and closer to the end goal of looking more like Jesus. While it sounds crazy, this really should be our approach.
Pray To Be Fully Prepared
Let me add another facet to this idea. Following James’ instruction to consider these trials as joy is not our only responsibility. As hard as that is, I think there is a tougher step we can, and should, take. This step may seem unrealistic to you, but I am sincere in offering it as heartfelt advice.
I believe we should pray for God to expose us to the full extent of the trials He has in mind for us. While this sounds like asking for punishment, I actually see it as a sincere effort to be fully prepared for a future test.
Not To Be Found Short
Just like the dream I mentioned earlier, we all hate facing a test that we are not prepared to face. In the same way, I do not want to face a future test or trial for which I am not prepared. If the trial I am facing right now is meant to prepare me for that future test, then I want to go through the full preparation I can!
That means I want the full extent of this current trial so that I am not found short later. I want all the preparation He has in mind for me so I am ready for whatever lies ahead.
Does that make sense?
Prayer Changes, Too
If you understand my reasoning and agree with it, then this means your prayer life should likely change dramatically. Not only should it change your prayers involving the trials you are going through, but it should also change your prayers for others.
Rather than praying for God to lift suffering and stress from our lives, we should be praying that He gives us the strength to go through it. Rather than praying for relief, we should pray for endurance through the trial and understanding that we are being prepared for the future.
Application to Christian Business Leaders
Assuming you are still following me with this line of thinking, let’s quickly apply it to Christian business owners and leaders.
First, we will face many tests and trials in the course of trying to run a business. The world does not like Jesus and every effort we make at spreading the gospel through our businesses will be met with serious opposition (think Chick-Fil-A). If we are going to face these trials, then we really need to be prepared for them.
Second, while these trials may not be any tougher on us than what others may face, our trials often have consequences that affect many more people. If we are diligent in facing these current trials with the mindset of being prepared for future ones, we will have greater impact for eternity on those around us.
Finally, if we will face these tests with joy as James instructs, those that are watching us today will gain hope. Whether we recognize it or not, people are watching. Whether we like it or not, we have a responsibility as Christ’s ambassadors to represent our King in the best way we can.
I am really interested in your response – what are your thoughts?
Can you see yourself praying for the full extent of a trial?
Have you already experienced this? Tell us about it.