3 keys To Seizing Opportunities

(Source: Image via Creative Commons/ James Wang)There is an old saying ,  ‘when life hands you lemons, make lemonade’.  This is a way of saying that when something unexpectedly bad happens, make the best of it.  There is another side to this, of course, and that is more along the lines of, ‘when life hands you sugar, make a cake’.  There is actually a word for this…’serendipity’.

I read a recent article in Fortune Magazine’s online edition showing the power of opportunity.  Arthur Gensler is an architect who in the early 1990’s was flying, quite unexpectedly on an upstart airline called JetBlue.  In his own words, “Later, as I was settling into my plane seat, a man’s voice came on the PA system. He introduced himself as David Neeleman, founder and CEO of JetBlue. He said that he would be joining the flight attendants to serve drinks, and he hoped to talk to every passenger. I thought this was fantastic and was suddenly glad to be sitting farther back in the plane because it gave me a few moments to think about how I would introduce myself.  When David Neeleman reached my seat, he asked what I did. “I’m an architect,” I said, adding, “We do airports.”  Those three little words changed everything.(Source: http://fortune.com/2015/06/02/gensler-architecture-jetblue/)  Within two weeks Gensler’s fledgling firm was asked to submit a proposal to design JetBlue’s new JFK International Airport terminal.

Life happens.  Unexpected good and bad things happen.  The question for us as bivocational ministers is how can we anticipate and use those life events best for the Lord?  There is actually a single key practice that we can use to take control.  That is called ‘foresight and planning’.

There are a couple key points to keep in mind.

First, begin thinking in terms of possibilities.  Don’t just assume something is going to happen and concentrate on the one outcome.  What are the best and the worst things that can happen in a given circumstance?  For instance, you are having coffee with a person who came to the church on Sunday and you want to get to know him better.  What is the best thing that can come out of that meeting?  What is the worst thing?  Think through what you would say in each scenario.  Are there biblical principles that apply?  What about church policy statements?  District or denominational stances?  Now that you have thought those things through…what is the most likely thing that will come out of the meeting?

Second, begin to formulate well thought out answers and responses for various scenarios.  An example, for me personally, is that I have had some dealings with various cults and have found certain apologetic answers to their attacks to be more effective than others.  Some of these I have written in the back of my Bible, others I have simply memorized.  Scripture reading and memorization is never wasted…the Holy Spirit will call it to mind when needed.  This principle applies not only in apologetics, but in other areas of life, too.   In martial arts we repeatedly train the same moves over and over to develop what is referred to as ‘muscle memory’, the instinctive action that requires little or no thought.

Third,  change your behavior in order to shift the unexpected in favor of the good, rather than the bad.  In other words, make your own opportunities!  When someone asks you, ‘What do you do for a living?’, what do you say?  Do you say <insert secular job title here>, or do you say, “I am a bivocational minister”?  The first answer is likely to be very generic, while the second answer is probably going to generate an opportunity.  “Bivocational minister?  What is that?”

The Bible says, “Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise,  making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.” (Eph 5:15-16 NIV)  We want to make the most of EVERY opportunity, whether the occasion is good or bad.  Are you ready?

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