Have you ever had a “voice from the past” remind you about important aspects of who God created you to be?
That’s what happened recently when I was contacted by Matthew Donovan, a friend I hadn’t seen in the nearly 20 years since he moved away from Charlotte. We were able to spend several hours together at the Panera Bread Company, catching up on things and then praying for each other.
Part of the conversation was especially illuminating for me…
“Have you been speaking at many churches lately, Jim?” Matthew asked. Back when we were hanging out in the 1990s, he once traveled with me to minister in a church near Houston, Texas. I preached, he led worship, then we prayed for people and gave some input to the pastor. It was a very memorable and impactful time.
“No, I rarely speak at churches these days, Matthew,” I admitted. “Although I love to preach, the opportunities have been very few.”
“What about being a church consultant?” he queried. “You always enjoyed that sort of thing.”
“No, I’m not doing much of that either,” I said.
“Well, I know you’ve always had a heart to mentor young leaders,” Matthew reminded me. Back in the 1990s, he was one of those young leaders I tried to help and encourage.
“I have a few young guys I get together with, Matthew. Yet I surely would like to impact a lot more.”
You can pretty much see where the conversation was headed, but Matthew went on to ask a final question about my current activities.
“Have you written some good books in recent years, Jim?” he wanted to know. I think he may have remembered that I wrote my classic book on leadership many years ago, Walking the Leadership Highway—Without Becoming Roadkill!
“I’m writing more books than ever, Matthew,” I told him, “but only as a ghostwriter, not as the author.”
Our conversation was a surreal experience for me. Through his questions, my friend was reminding me of the person I used to be in days gone by. He was painting a clear and challenging picture of the Jim Buchan he used to know.
Reflecting on my time with Matthew, I’ve concluded that the Jim Buchan of today still has the very same passions, but somehow I’ve gotten off track the past decade or so. To make matters worse, I’m not really sure HOW I got off track, nor do I fully know what it will take to reverse course and revitalize my diminished vision and functionality.
At this point in the blog, you’re probably expecting me to write about some epiphany I’ve had about how to regain my lost calling. Well…stay tuned. Right now I don’t have any solution other than drawing near to the Lord and listening for His instructions on my new assignments. It’s clear that returning to my true calling must begin by a return to my “first love,” my personal relationship with Him (Revelation 2:1-4).
Surely I’m not the only one who has ever experienced this troubling sense of having drifted from my spiritual gifts and true calling. In fact, Paul advised his protégé Timothy, “Fan into flames the spiritual gift God gave you” (2 Timothy 1:6 NLT). Our spiritual embers inevitably grow cold in time if we neglect to maintain them.
What about you? Like King David, can you truly say you are serving the purpose of God in your own generation? (Acts 13:36 NASB) Are you serving in your true spiritual gifts and making the maximum impact on the lives of others?
If you have some advice for me on how to get back on track, I would love to hear from you. We’re in this together, after all. And I’m still hoping the rest of our life can be the best of our life.