Great leaders expect the unexpected. They expect to conquer the unexpected. Victory over the unexpected energizes and creates an atmosphere of Holy Spirit momentum.
Nonetheless, too many leaders remain locked in their own routine, the routine of the expected. I call this routine the dance of complacency. In this dance, we know the recognizable steps from beginning to end. There’s not much passion and no faith, but there is just enough movement to allow us to believe we might be going somewhere, though we are really just dancing in circles. Tragically, we are dancing alone, and we are going nowhere.
On one hand, it is safe. The sort of defeat that demoralizes rarely comes from this routine of the expected. On the other hand, remaining in the safety of this routine reduces not only the possibility of encountering unexpected negative experiences but also unexpected—and supernatural—moves of God.
Sure, the dance of the unexpected can knock you down, but it doesn’t have to knock you out. If you aren’t careful, it can knock the breath of life out of you, drain your thoughts of faith, and rob your attitudes of hope. When these steps interrupt your routine and you find yourself reeling, it’s important not to stay down.
The fact is, every day we all encounter the unexpected.
Life is the unexpected.
This is why great leaders know to anticipate the unexpected. They know these seasons not only come but that they will be a key to momentum and supernatural victory.
When I was in high school, I did not expect to have the life I’ve lived all these years later. But I would not have changed a moment of it.
I married the most wonderful woman on Earth.
I’ve gone to the former Soviet Union over 120 times.
I’ve seen thousands of people come to the salvation of Jesus Christ.
I’ve published my first book.
I have the most extraordinary son and daughter-in-law and three of the most beautiful grandchildren.
I have also known great struggle. I remember all the nights wondering, How do we survive? What will happen to my family? My staff? What will I do about the bills?
I remember coming face to face with the darkness of fear when the doctor said to me, “Mikel, you have cancer. You can’t travel for at least three to four months. We must guard against any type of infections from travel.”
As challenging as that was, none of it compared to when my son, who was 38 at the time, called me last year on his way to coach his son’s Little League baseball game to tell me his doctor had just informed him that he had been diagnosed with mantle cell lymphoma. That unexpected call preceded a year of watching thousands of dear friends joins us in prayer every day. It preceded five chemo treatments and a stem-cell transplant, but today Jonathan is in complete remission. Thank You, God!
Through that ordeal I saw the manifestation of God’s promise that by His stripes we were healed, and I witnessed firsthand how some of God’s greatest miracles begin with circumstances that sweep our legs out from under us. I also learned that, though God has given us the victory, you don’t want to face the fear of the unexpected alone.
Through the good and the bad, I have learned our lives aren’t defined by the unexpected circumstances that come our way but rather by how we respond to them.
Life is a dance. There will be ups and downs. Sometimes your plans will work, and at other times your plans will fail. You will know great joy, but it is also likely you’ll also be acquainted with grief. Learning the dance is less about memorizing steps and more about trusting our partner, God. It’s responding to the pulling and leadings of life and learning to follow the leading of the Lord. This is the only way to become like the apostle Paul, who said:
“I do not speak because I have need, for I have learned in whatever state I am to be content. I know both how to face humble circumstances and how to have abundance. Everywhere and in all things I have learned the secret, both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things because of Christ who strengthens me” (Phil. 4:11-13).
We must learn how God wants us to respond to situations and then lean on His strength to execute that plan. God knows what the situations in our lives will be before we meet them. God knows what is coming our way. Nothing is unexpected for God.
“We know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose” (Rom. 8:28).
As we face each trial and unexpected situation, God wants us to follow Him. He knows the way to get to victory. He put it in His Word! When God says that He will use all things for the good of those who love him, “all things” includes the unexpected.
No matter what unexpected situation you are facing today, trust God’s Word and follow Him! Good or bad, respond to each situation with faith in God’s undying love. He will get you through any unexpected circumstance and use it for your good.