(the photo above is from a Bible School mission trip to France in 1993. Karin is standing with the accordion and I am standing in the middle.)
I am regularly asked by young people with a strong desire to serve God if they can talk to me sometime. After a speech they approach me and tell me about their dream to work for God full time. Or I receive an extensive email in which they describe how they feel called to serve God and would like to hear my advice. Although I cannot always respond to their requests, every now and then a passionate twenty-something person sits on our couch.
They come in tense. A strange mix of pride and insecurity takes possession of them. A cup of coffee puts them at ease and then I let them talk about what moves them. They enthusiastically and using strong superlatives describe the calling they experience and the possible ministry they see in the distance. How I enjoy the untamed passion and the uninhibited desire to give everything for King Jesus. What a passion!
Yet such an encounter almost always has another side. These young heroes have little vision of the road ahead. The passion has barely been translated into a plan. I often give them this challenge: ‘Suppose I paid your wages starting tomorrow, what would you do in the coming month?’ The answers usually take a while. After a while there are responses such as evangelizing in my neighborhood, setting up a Youth Alpha or following a training course. My confrontational response is always:“And why aren’t you doing that now?”
Luckily they have a dream. But as a Japanese proverb says: ‘Vision without action is a daydream. Action without vision is a nightmare’ . It starts with a dream, so that’s good. But it shouldn’t stop there. Take action and take steps towards your dream. No matter how painful, drastic or expensive those steps are. The price for the place you want to reach is paid along the way. I want to help young people with that. I want to help you with that now!
Esther Vorsterman recently made a beautiful statement during her lesson at our School for Leaders : ‘The price tag for the cloak is on the inside!’ Hardly anyone sees the sacrifices you have had to make to carry this spiritual mantle, this responsibility as a leader. That’s right. That is the story I especially want to tell these twenty-somethings. It is precisely this life lesson that I want to pass on to them. The fulfillment of your dream is not that tomorrow you will be able to speak on a huge stage or in front of a huge crowd. The realization of your dream mainly depends on you investing in your (spiritual) growth.
My cool mobile
After studying as an aircraft engineer, I started working in a Japanese company. As a young single person with a passion for Jesus, I soon traveled the world. Stayed in luxury hotels and went out to eat almost every night. In addition to a large company car, I had access to one of the first mobile phones. An enormous colossus with a battery the size of 3 bricks and an antenna of more than a meter. You can hardly imagine it, but I felt cool with that thing!
The Bible School
After two years I knew that the time had come to leave this wonderful job behind and go to Bible college. That step was necessary to be formed, so that God’s plan could further unfold in me. Instead of making a lot of money, Bible college cost almost all my savings. No luxury room or five-course menus, but a dormitory and simple food. Yet I can confidently say that those two years molded and forged me and were desperately needed. I am where I am in my walk with God and in our ministry through that time in Bible college.
From small to large
God is more interested in the process than the product. You change along the way. At Bible school, in beautiful and difficult years with minimal finances, in the year we had no house, in the move from Belgium to Friesland that suddenly caused us to lose all our roots, in the condemnation in the media or the hate emails on m a PC… the price is high, but it’s worth it. Through all these challenges, my heart has been changed so that God could entrust me with more. God invites us to invest more in the relationship than in achieving a result. Be faithful in the little things, and He will appoint you over much more because He fulfills your dreams!
PS If you are in your (almost) twenties, then the online follow-up evening this Tuesday at our Full-time School might be a great step on the way to the dream that God has for you.