It is easy to think that success in ministry depends upon us making good decisions. If God’s plans for this church / ministry are going to succeed, we need to discern His will and follow it. But what about when we make dumb decisions? Can our failures ruin what God wants to accomplish? Certainly, our decisions have a real impact in our lives and the lives of others. We should pursue holiness and make the best choices we can. But at the same time, our missteps, miscalculations, and general failure to follow God in every way do not prevent God from accomplishing his plans.
We see this principle at work in the story of Abimelech and Abraham in Genesis 20. Abraham and Sarah move into Gerar, the territory of King Abimelech. Abraham has some inkling of the trouble that is ahead, so he tells Sarah to say that she is his sister instead of his wife. Abimelech then takes Sarah as his wife, but before he gets to sleeping with her, God speaks to him in a dream and tells him that she has a husband already, and Abimelech will thus be punished. Abimelech pleads his innocence, returns Sarah, and berates Abraham for lying to him. At the end of the day, Abraham gets his wife back plus a lot of gifts from Abimelech who wants to clear his name and escape from divine wrath.
This was not Abraham’s finest moment. His short-sighted plan succeeds in protecting himself, but not his wife, and brings down God’s wrath on an innocent king who was duped by Abraham’s white lie. But in spite of Abraham’s sins and dumb decisions, God protects him and ensures that Abraham and Sarah stay together as a couple, and avoid consequences from an angry king. Why? Because God has chosen Abraham to be the father of a great nation, and to bless all the peoples of the world through Abraham’s descendent Jesus Christ (see Genesis 12:1-3, Matthew 1). God rescues Abraham and his wife from this sticky situation because He is not going to let Abraham’s dumb decisions get in the way of what He wants to accomplish. God’s plan is too big and important to let that happen.
In our own churches and ministries, do we get discouraged by the sins and dumb decisions of ourselves and others? Do we erroneously think that these things will keep the church from growing, and prevent the accomplishment of God’s will and the triumph of the kingdom of God? In the short run, of course, our decisions will have an impact, just like Abraham’s decisions had a real-time impact on his life. But in the long run, God will accomplish in our churches, our ministries, and our lives those things that He wants to accomplish. And for that reason, we should take courage. His plans WILL go on, even if our dumb plans bring things to a grinding halt temporarily.