Last week I was introduced as someone with more "accidental success" in ministry than most people ever have with intentional efforts. I had never thought of it this way, but it was an interesting statement and there are some reasons that I think this has been the case in my ministry career. I want to make sure to clearly state from the beginning though, that I know that any favor that I have experience comes from God and not my own doing. I believe though, that many limit what God is able to do in and through them because of their actions and lack of faith. I also want to state that I don't just lead in directions without intentionality, but that God often changes that direction with achievements that I was not seeking after.
Let me better explain by sharing the 3 "Accidental Successes" that were described in the introduction:
1) Growing the Largest College Ministry in San Antonio. Several years ago 2 college students asked me to start a small group Bible study in a home. My goal was to grow that group of 2 to a healthy small group of about 12-15. Within 2 weeks we hit that goal, 6 months after that we had to move spaces as we outgrew our living room, and 18 months later we were averaging 200 college students each week. I had a goal, but God had a greater one!
2) Accepting my Dream Job as a Social Media Pastor. Three years ago I was in the process of launching a non-profit organization and was meeting with ministry and business leaders around San Antonio building support. One conversation led to another which led to being offered the opportunity to write my dream job description as a Social Media Pastor in largest and fastest growing church in the city. I had a direction, but God had a better one!
3) Signing a Book Deal with Group Publishing. I was not seeking a book deal and did not even consider what I wrote to be a book. It was a simple PDF document that I hoped might become a resource for any churches interested in maximizing Social Media. The document was forwarded twice and before I knew it I was signing a book deal that will allow that information to reach thousands of ministry leaders. I had good intentions, but God had bigger plans!
As I thought through these experiences, there are 3 tips that I recommend for anyone who hopes to also experience "accidental success". This list could probably be much longer, but these are the first 3 that come to mind:
1) Hustle Always. I don't sit still very well and this has been a very helpful trait over the years. Christians often cling to the verse that says: "Be still and know that I am God" which is a very important passage and words to cling to. Prayer and meditation are essential to spiritual growth, but I believe that they are too often used as excuses for laziness. I too often hear Christians say that they are "waiting for God." Robert Emmitt describes a healthy process well in saying that while we're waiting for God to open the right door we shouldn't kick doors in, but that also doesn't mean we shouldn't stop knocking on doors either. Pray and seek God's leading, but don't stop knocking on doors in the process.
2) Experiment Often. While I have had some BIG ministry successes over the past 3-5 years, I have had at least double that in failures. Part of knocking on doors is experimenting and trying new things. We tend to get comfortable where we are, especially when we experience some sort of success, and stop innovating and experimenting. Never stop trying new things and never hesitate to quit doing something that's not working. My first experience with Online Church came as an experiment with a Handy Cam, a laptop, and Mogulus (now LiveStream.com). That experiment changed everything!
3) Be Flexible. God might call you to move in one direction today and a new direction tomorrow. Be flexible to the leading of the Holy Spirit and the circumstances in your life. It seemed so clear to me that I was to launch a non-profit 3 years ago, but as I look back God had even greater plans. He used those conversations and relationships in the efforts to launch to do even greater things. God's direction for our lives rarely looks like a straight line and often requires many stops and turns (and sometimes U-Turns).
Please know that doing these things does not in any way guarantee accidental success, but I do believe that they prepare you to experience success removing many limitations to success.
I would love to hear about some of your "accidental successes" and some tips that you might add in helping others experience similar success.