The other day I went with my father to the shooting range. He was heading out on a hunting trip, and before he left I wanted to help him “sight in” the rifle that I had bought him as a gift. We looked through the scope, which we had just attached, aimed at the target, and fired, knowing that we would most likely miss the bull’s-eye. But by firing at the target, we could see where we needed to make an adjustment to the scope. We were only able to make corrections when we saw how we were missing the mark. I think this is typical of life. We usually learn more from our mistakes than our successes. But unless you fire, you will never miss, and unless you miss, you will never be able to make the adjustments necessary to hit the bull’s-eye.
Whenever I begin a new project or initiative, I never view my initial plan as the final draft. I dive into it knowing that I will learn as I go. This means that I’m not paralysed by a fear of failure; rather I am looking forward to learning what not to do. I see my initial plan as an uncalibrated machine with many dials. The dials are all the different variables represented in that particular project. Once the machine is running, I can see what is working and what is not working. I am diligent to gather sufficient feedback, and then I will begin to tweak the “dials” based on that feedback.
Even when I feel like everything is running smoothly, I will continue to step back often to analyse the process. If something is working well, I will try to capitalise on it. If something is not working well, I will adjust it or prune it off altogether. It is an on-going dynamic development that never ends. This process is where real progress is made, but until you take action, all of your planning and strategising is simply untested theory.
Having said all these things, let me be clear: taking action is not just a matter of trial and error. At its core, it is a matter of faithfulness. Even if there are a thousand things you cannot do for one reason or another, there is always something you can do. It may seem small or insignificant, but the eyes of God are on you. He is watching to see what you will do with the opportunities He has given you, and your response will determine whether He entrusts you with more.
I was preaching in a church some time ago when a young man came up to me with tears in his eyes and said, “I have a calling like yours. The Lord has called me to preach the Gospel. I believe I am going to win millions of people to the Lord, but I don’t know where to start.” I put my arm around him and said, “I think I can help you.” He said, “You can?” I said, “Yes, I can tell you where to start. Start by telling your unsaved family members about Jesus. Then go and tell your unsaved friends about Jesus. Then go out to the street corners and preach the Gospel to lost people wherever you can find them. As God sees your faithfulness, He will give you more.”
Another young man shared his vision with me one day. He said, “I am going to start a house of prayer. I am going to have prayer, intercession, and worship going on twenty-four hours per day, seven days per week, three hundred sixty-five days per year.”
“That’s a wonderful vision,” I said. “When will it begin?” He said, “Well, first I need to gather several dozen worship bands together and several hundred intercessors who share my vision.” I could see a problem in his plan right away. “Can I give you some advice?” I asked. He was very eager to hear it. I said, “Why don’t you start with one evening per week or one day per month? Start by doing whatever you can do, and as you are faithful, God will give you more.” Unfortunately my advice was too unexciting for that young man. He decided to do it the more dramatic way and wait until all the bands and intercessors had been assembled. I’m sad to report that several years later, he still has not started the house of prayer.
I did not start by preaching to millions of people. I started preaching as a teenager to lost people on the streets. I went door to door in my neighbourhood and witnessed to my neighbours. I went to the parks and stood on park benches and preached. I stood up in restaurants, outside movie theatres, on street corners. I have been escorted away by police on more than one occasion for preaching the Gospel. When I first launched into full-time evangelistic ministry, I had only one preaching invitation. But that invitation led to another and another and another. Today I have more invitations than I could ever accept, but it all happened one door at a time.