Surrendering Your Plans to God
About the Guest
Many are the plans in a person's heart, but it is the LORD's purpose that prevails." While God may give you specific passions and talents, ultimately He decides how they get used for His glory. Lauren Chandler, Mike Howerton, and William Barcley teach that surrendering your plans to God is the first step in knowing His will.
Lauren Chandler, Mike Howerton, and William Barcley teach that surrendering your plans to God is the first step in knowing His will.
Michelle: Is there something in your life you really want to do?—like you feel called to do it—so you’ve prayed and you’ve prayed, and you’ve waited and waited. Lauren Chandler also understands this feeling.
Lauren: So it was manageable for a long time; because I could think: “Well, you know, this is a good desire! I want to lead worship; I want to do something that I know the Lord’s called me to do.” I couldn’t manage it for a while; and I could explain away the dissatisfaction in different ways until, finally, I was just so tired.
Michelle: That’s Lauren Chandler from a recent interview with Dennis Rainey and Bob Lepine on FamilyLife Today®. Well, Lauren’s going to join me in the studio a little bit later on. We’re going to talk about a big desire in her life to lead worship and how that desire turned into a big problem. Stay tuned.
Welcome to FamilyLife This Week. I’m Michelle Hill. You know, I’ve been hearing a lot of talk about calling lately—not calling on your cell phones; not calling out the back door, yelling at someone to come for supper—but that calling of: “What am I good at?” You know, “I don’t feel called to my job anymore. I must not be called here.”
Well, God does have a call on all of our lives, and for many people, we’re left with, “Well, what is it?!” I recently read an article, and the author was talking about calling. She took up piano, when she was a young person, and she was really good at it. So that must have been God’s calling on her life; right? But she would tell you, “No”; because that is not the vocation that she’s in. She enjoys piano, but that’s not where she went in life. She would also say that we need to be careful of saying that our calling is how we best express ourselves, or our calling is how God has gifted us.
As we set up this framework around the idea of calling, maybe we need to hear what it is not to better understand what it is. Let’s hear from Mike Howerton, who has spent many years as a college pastor. I’m sure that he’s answered this calling question just a few times. Mike is lead pastor of Overlake Christian Church in Seattle, Washington. He shared with Dennis Rainey and Bob Lepine about how we could get this whole calling thing wrong.
[Previous FamilyLife Today Broadcast]
Mike: In ministry for 22 years, I have seen a lot of that misconception. I’ve seen a lot of that abuse of using/sort of—I call it: “Playing the God card,”—“Hey, God told me this!” And how can you argue with that?—because if God really did tell them; you know?
One of the first things I’ll say is: “God’s call will never contradict God’s Word.” God has already called us generally, revealing His general call through the Word that we have today. So knowing the Word—investing your time in the Word/meditating on the Word—that will be a great first step to discerning God’s call in your life.
Dennis: So the Scripture is our plumb line for where we start—
Dennis: —not an experience.
Mike: Absolutely; yes.
Dennis: Although God does speak to us through experiences that we have.
Mike: He does speak through experiences; and He does, I think, speak directly into our hearts as well. I believe that the Spirit of God is given to every single believer, dwelling within us. I would confess to you/to all those listening today that I have never heard the audible voice of the Lord; but I have felt His prompting/I have felt His leading. There are times when I can’t describe why I would be pressed to reach out to a person, or to make a phone call, or to write a letter; and yet I know, because of confirmation from the other end, that God was absolutely directing that moment.
I would have to say it all has to fall under the general call of Scripture. We’re called to love God; we’re called to love people; we’re called to serve the world. Underneath that general umbrella, I believe that God really does want a relationship with each one of us that is intimate.
Bob: I think one of the words of caution here is that, when you have that sense/that prompting—that: “Gee, is the Lord really leading me in this direction?”—God’s Word is certain. Those promptings are subjective and may be less certain; that doesn’t mean that you don’t respond to the prompting. It just means that you don’t presume that the prompting is as authoritative in your life as God’s Word is.
Michelle: That’s so true from Bob Lepine. Bob was talking with Mike Howerton, and Mike was reminding us that our most important things in life can be summed up in a relationship: loving God and loving others.
Okay, so that doesn’t help me out with this call on my life at all; because there are a whole lot of things that I’m fairly good at, and there are a few specific ways that I’ve been gifted. In fact, there’s a calling or a yearning in my heart to be something—and I’ve had this for quite a long time—but instead, God keeps me here, right where He has me: “How do I keep the hope of what I believe my call is balanced with resting in His perfect plan for me?” Have you every wrestled with that?
William Barcley is Senior Pastor at Sovereign Grace Presbyterian Church in Charlotte, North Carolina. He’s also an adjunct professor at Reformed Theological Seminary. He says that there are ways to find rest and satisfaction with where God has us. Maybe we just need to “be.” Here’s William Barcley.
[Previous FamilyLife Today Broadcast]
William: I think there are two ways that we find contentment in the midst of our difficult situations—in the midst of hardship/in the midst of affliction—whatever it is. One is: “We simply do the work that God has called us to do.” I mean, I think that’s one. We carry on with the work that God has called us to do there until God moves us elsewhere.
That’s exactly what Paul did. In Philippians, Chapter 1, Paul talks about his imprisonment; and he says, “My imprisonment has become known to the palace guard that I am here for Christ.” Well, how has it become known to the palace guard? Well, it’s because Paul continued to preach the gospel in that circumstance.
A lot of times we think, when we go through difficulty, that we need to wait for a better circumstance before we carry on with the work that God has called us to do.
Bob: —or before we find contentment.
William: —before we find contentment; right.
No one, for instance, probably would have blamed Paul for saying, “Well, I’m just going to sit back here and wait in this time of imprisonment; and then I’ll go on with my ministry and go on preaching the gospel.” No; what did Paul do? He wrote letters to encourage his churches, and he continued to preach the gospel.
Several years ago, there was a study done. People were asked: “What do you live for?” Ninety-four percent of the people who responded to that survey answered that they were waiting for something: either they were single, and they were waiting to get married; they were married, they were waiting to have kids; they were married with kids, and they were waiting for the kids to grow up and leave the home; waiting for a new job. The answers, in some ways, were different; but 94 percent answered in terms of waiting for something to happen instead of doing the work that God had called them to do.
Michelle: That’s some great encouragement from William Barcley: “Do the work that God has called you to now. Don’t delay. Don’t wait any longer.”
I was at an event recently with Christian recording artist, Sandi Patty. You remember Sandi; right? She sang a lot of hit songs back in the ‘80s and ‘90s, including the song, Love in Any Language. [Sandi singing Love in Any Language] She happened to say, at this event, that our journey is a compass; it is not a stopwatch.
That kind of stuck with me because we, as people, tend to set timelines for our life, and then we fit our callings into those spaces—you know: “I’m 20 years old; I should be in college,” “I’m 25 years old; I should be married and have one kid,” “I’m 35 years old, and I should have my Master’s and progressing in my career,”—on and on and on and on it goes! We forget that that’s not necessarily what God has for us. Sandi encouraged everyone to just keep walking forward. Life is not about those timelines; it’s more of a compass of where God’s taking our journey. [Sandi singing Love in Any Language]
Hey! We need to take a break right now, but Lauren Chandler is going to join me in the studio right after that break. We’ll be talking about what God’s calling on her life looks like. Lauren, being married to Matt Chandler—you’re probably thinking, “Well, her calling is to be a pastor’s wife.” Well, the answer is: “It might be a little bit more complicated than that.” Stay tuned. [Sandi singing Love in Any Language]
[Radio Station Spot Break]
Michelle: Welcome back to FamilyLife This Week. I'm Michelle Hill. Today, we’re talking about calling; specifically, God’s calling on your life. Just what does that look like? I don’t know about you; but sometimes, I can get a little confused.
I invited somebody else who, at times, has been a little confused; yet she is further through the journey, and God has shown her what His calling on her life is. I’m talking about Lauren Chandler. Welcome, Lauren.
Lauren: Thanks for having me, Michelle!
Michelle: Thanks for joining me! I always enjoy being able to have people in the studio, because not all of the time do I do that.
Michelle: Sometimes, it’s over the phone. Those interviews can be really good—
Michelle: —but they can also be a little bit tough.
Lauren: Yes, they can. There’s something that the face to face helps a lot.
Michelle: Yes. Okay; before we get going, whenever there’s a woman, who joins me in the studio, I always have to ask her, “What’s your favorite chocolate?”
Lauren: My favorite chocolate?
Lauren: You’re going to be disappointed.
Michelle: Oh, no!
Lauren: I’m not a chocolate person! What’s wrong with me?
Michelle: I know!
Lauren: I’m like a woman!
Michelle: We can’t be friends.
Lauren: I know! Isn’t that horrible?!
Michelle: I mean, come on; just leave right now.
Lauren: What in the world?
I love like hot tamales! [Laughter] I want that chewy, gummy candy; isn’t that weird?
Lauren: I know; I’m sorry.
Michelle: I guess we all have our thing!
Lauren: Yes, we do. Most women have their favorite chocolates.
Michelle: We do.
Lauren: I know!
Michelle: So anything else?—coffee?
Lauren: Now, I do like—if I’ve got to choose a chocolate, I would choose maybe a dark chocolate with lots of salt and almonds in it—like with the big granules of salt.
Michelle: Yes; sounds good.
Lauren: I like that kind of stuff.
Michelle: That is really good.
Lauren: There you go.
Lauren: Am I okay now?
Michelle: You’re safe; you’re safe.
Michelle: Okay; I want to talk today about just who Lauren Chandler is. We know you’re a wife; you’re a mom; you’re a worship leader; you’re an author; but how would you describe yourself?
Lauren: I would say that, one, I am a daughter of the King—I really am; I’m His. I am not forgotten—that He pays attention to me—that He cares.
But that He has also put some things into my heart to do, and most of those things have to do with connection. I feel like I’m a connector. You know, as a worship leader, my job is to connect with the people in hopes that they would connect with the Lord—that’s my job—it’s not for them to look at me. My job is that they might connect with the God, who loves them, who has a desire forthem and their worship.
Then, even a connector, relationally. I meet different people; and I’ll think: “Oh, my goodness! You need to meet this person!” “You need to connect with this person.” I think, naturally, I’m given to be a connector. That’s who I would say “Lauren is,” in my essence, I guess.
Michelle: That’s so neat; right. As a connector—I’ve never heard someone describe themselves as that—maybe as a daughter of the King, but not as a connector.
Michelle: That is just a really unique way of looking at it.
Michelle: So with worship, and being a worship leader, how did that come about for you?
Lauren: Well, I always sang in church, growing up. I was a part of this little ensemble of four girls. We were called First Song, because we were singing at First Baptist Church.
Michelle: Aww! How old?
Lauren: It started in like junior high; so probably seventh grade, all the way through my senior year of high school. We sang all the Point of Grace songs; we sang Sierra—all these great songs.
Michelle: Oh, yes!
Lauren: And then, in 1999, I was a freshman in college. I went to Passion—the Passion Conference.
Lauren: I heard Christy Nockels lead; and I was like: “Ahh! I’ve never heard a woman lead worship like that.”
Lauren: There really hadn’t been a space for women worship leaders. It was kind of like you sang the special at church—
Lauren: —the solo or whatever. As far as singing these songs to the Lord—but inviting all these people to join in with her to sing these songs to and about Him—that’s where that seed was planted. I already loved music, and I loved to sing; but that’s where the seed was planted.
I thought, “Okay, this is a way that I could glorify God in my singing,”—and not just singing, you know, Point of Grace songs at church—
Lauren: —but a little bit of a different spin on it.
Michelle: To be more of the connector, as you said.
Lauren: Yes!—to be more of the connector. I feel like the Lord keeps refining this vision for me. I think I’m so given to be a performer—like I want to perform, and I want to be perfect. The Lord has just said: “You know what? I haven’t made you to, nor asked you to perform. What I want you to do is prepare. I want you to be a part of preparing the people to receive the Word, and maybe to receive some encounter with Me.”
That’s where I’m having more and more peace with the gift God’s given me—seeing it: “Okay, I’m not going to be a performer. I’m not a singer/songwriter, with my guitar up there, singing these songs.” The heart of it is for me to be a conduit for people to connect with the Lord, and not to perform.
Michelle: So right out of college, did you go right into a church? Were you a worship leader from that point?
Lauren: No! It was a long, hard road. It was hard, because there was still this little performer inside of me—really insecure—was wanting to get all my identity from being a worship leader, or from singing/from music. It just—it’s a horrible place to try to find your identity—
Lauren: —to know who you are—because there’s always going to be someone that sings better than you do; there’s always going to be someone that receives more compliments than you do; there’s going to be someone that has more solos than you do.
I would sing and not be satisfied, because I didn’t like how I sounded. I didn’t want to sound like me. I wanted to sound like someone else that I knew—
Lauren: —“Oh, everybody likes how she sounds! That’s what I want to sound like!” So I would kind of copy my voice after her.
You know, I tell people I realized, “I’m a poor version of anyone else’s authentic self.”
Michelle: We all are.
Lauren: Yes; so the Lord just saying, “I have given you a voice.” I wasn’t satisfied; I wasn’t there yet in college, or even in my early 20s; I hadn’t made peace with that.
Michelle: But did you feel called?
Michelle: You felt like, “This is God’s path for me.”
Michelle: But it was still—it was about “me”?
Lauren: Right; a lot of times—you know, we’ll have an idea of what the Lord’s called us to do—maybe it’s just a desire; it’s something that’s in our hearts to do that we want to do. I think, a lot of times, we’ll think: “Oh, it’s a bad desire! If I want to do it, then I probably am not supposed to do it.”
Lauren: I think that’s wrong thinking. I think, probably, it’s a desire that needs to be refined. It needs the right timing; it needs some waiting on the Lord to use it.
For me, I knew this calling; but I didn’t know what it was going to look like. There was a load of refining to do before He was going to let me really enjoy the fruit of this calling.
Lauren: So, you know, there were a lot of ups and downs; because I wasn’t satisfied with my voice. Then, when I didn’t get to sing, I wasn’t satisfied; because I hadn’t been asked to sing. It was just this horrible cycle of dissatisfaction and frustration. Finally, the Lord was like: “You know what? I’ve got to be enough for you, even if you never sing!” He brought 2 Corinthians 12:9 before me—kind of set it before me: “For My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.”
I think, looking back on that now—and seeing that play out in my life more—that weakness part is—yes, the weakness of the struggle—but also, the weakness of: “Maybe my voice isn’t perfect”; “Maybe I don’t sing a song perfectly; but the Lord—He is going to be glorified and strong, even in that kind of weakness—
Lauren: —“even in a literal weakness in my voice.”
Michelle: It’s true. When you laid down your desire—and then, when God picked it back up—
Michelle: —did it feel good during that time?
Lauren: I mean, it was a struggle. I feel like I kind of went through a few seasons like that, where I would lay it down, and then I would pick it back up.
Lauren: But when I finally laid it down for good, I was doing so much work on my heart that I was preoccupied with deep, heart-level work that He was doing.
Lauren: I was going through—I was really going through steps—Celebrate Recovery’s step program; you know?
Michelle: For this?
Lauren: Yes, for this! This perfectionism—this desire to not be me, and to be somebody else—this desire to perform. I just knew that I needed to do something radical. I’m telling you—I would recommend everyone do some kind of Celebrate Recovery; or our church does Recovery Redemption—some kind of program; because essentially, even if it’s not an addiction to substance or a relationship, deep down, we kind of all have the same issue—is that we want to be God! We don’t want Him to tell us what to do.
Really, our souls are in the best place when we’re submitted to Him; because He is a loving God.
Lauren: He knows what’s best for us. It’s not out of some, you know, desire to be controlling or for Him to make our lives miserable—no! He loves us; we are His dearly loved children; and He wants to lead us into, you know, pleasures forevermore.
Michelle: Now, are you still worship leader at church?
Lauren: Yes, I am. It’s been interesting—being faithful in all these little places, the Lord has opened up more doors.
Michelle: Yes. What is it like to be standing up there and seeing the folks be connected with God and seeing that God is just working mightily in hearts? What does that do for you?
Lauren: Yes; oh, it strengthens my faith; that’s for sure. Sometimes, it’s overwhelming; I can’t sing; because I’m just overcome with emotion. I think, more than anything, it strengthens my faith. I think that’s what’s great about—and why Scripture implores us to gather together with the saints—because we need that to face a week; you know? When I get to do that, it’s like a shot of adrenaline to my faith: “Lord, You can do anything!!”—you know?—“I trust You! Look what You’ve done!” I feel just kind of revved up for whatever’s next.
Michelle: It’s so interesting. God knows, above all, what we need and at the right timing.
Lauren: Yes; He does. And you know, it’s interesting—I’ve kind of gotten a little bit of a taste of what I thought I wanted—where I’ll travel here or do this. I actually did like a little tour with a friend, not too long ago. It was fun, and I’ll do it again; but I was like: “Man! If I had to do this all the time…!” What I wanted, while I was there, was to be back home with my kids, sitting on my back porch with all of our animals around us. That’s where I get a lot of peace and life.
It’s like the Lord knew. He knew better than I did that—if I, you know, was traveling all the time—
Lauren: —and, you know, leading worship all over the place—that I would have just shriveled up. I didn’t know that, but He knew.
Michelle: Thank you, Lauren, for joining me today on FamilyLife This Week.
Lauren: Yes, my pleasure. Thanks for having me!
Michelle: It’s been a joy!
Lauren: Likewise. [Lauren singing No Other One]
Michelle: You know, as we go through each day—and each day adds up to years and, basically, our life—we need to remember that, ultimately, our call is growing in our relationship with Christ. The outflow of that is what He asks us to do. We need to have patience, and maybe that’s part of the secret of contentment. And as with everything, we need to pray without ceasing—pray, pray, pray. Something to think about as you’re on your own journey.
Thinking about prayer without ceasing, what is the secret sauce to prayer? Have you ever wondered that? I tend to. Some will tell you it’s about fasting; you know, giving up food. Others will say it’s about praying God’s words back to Him. Well, next week, we’re going to take a look at praying for our children. There just might be a right way and a wrong way to do that; but you’ll have to listen to find out. I hope you can join us for that.
Hey, thanks for listening! I want to thank the president of FamilyLife®, David Robbins, along with our station partners around the country. A big “Thank you!” to the team I pray for daily: for our engineer, Keith Lynch. Thanks to our producers, Marques Holt and Bruce Goff. Justin Adams is our mastering engineer, and Megan Martin is our production coordinator.
Our program is a production of FamilyLife Today, and our mission is to effectively develop godly families who change the world one home at a time.
I'm Michelle Hill, inviting you to join us again next time for another edition of FamilyLife This Week.
©Song: Love in Any Language
Artist: Sandi Patty
Album: Morning Like This (p)1986
©Song: No Other One
Artist: Lauren Chandler
Album: The Narrow Place (p) 2012
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