How I Learned the Power of Trusting God, Not Charlie

Lessons from Uganda

It was a beautiful morning, and the praise team was wrapping up. I had about two minutes before I was to speak to a crowd of 7,000 people when Pastor Elijah leaned over to me and said, “The man who was to tell his story this afternoon is here and will speak now instead of you. Then based on his presentation, you’ll have to modify your presentation to make it all work.”

I panicked! I had a plan. I was charged with putting together a one-week curriculum on How to become a Kingdom-Minded Entrepreneur. The plan included three introductory topics, followed by five people telling their stories and then a wrap-up. Nine presentations in all. I thought, “I’m screwed. How will I rework my presentation in the next 30 minutes while this guy is speaking?”

But I Have a Plan!

I told Elijah, “You can’t do this!”

Flustered, I said, “This change will disrupt the flow of the course. The presentation I am about to deliver sets the table for each of the personal stories to be told. With this change, I am not sure how it will flow. It will be confusing.”

Elijah asked, “Is there a problem? You must trust God. He will give you the right words to speak.”

Of course he was right, but I never had to trust God like this before. I said, “Give me 30 seconds to rethink the plan.”

He said, “The man’s name is Peter, and he is a businessman who is unavailable this afternoon. He must speak now.”

I said, “OK. Let’s do it. You introduce him, and then I’ll do a quick recap.”

He said, “No. You must speak for 50 minutes as planned.”

I said, “OK. Let’s see what God has in mind.”

That’s when I started praying. “God, You need to tell me what to do. I am at a loss as to the next step, and I don’t have time to think about it. What am I supposed to talk about for 50 minutes? How will it tie back to what I’ve prepared? This one is on you. I am clueless. Help me!”

God’s Mysterious Ways

Peter, a businessman, was introduced by Pastor Elijah. He did a great job telling his amazing story of being raised in poverty and rejected by his father. In the end, he became a millionaire by starting his own business.

As Peter was speaking, God told me to listen to him and take detailed notes. From this note taking, you will know what to say, and it will fit neatly into the curriculum of How to become a Kingdom-Minded Entrepreneur.

Peter finished, and I came to the podium. I thanked him, led us in a prayer for Peter and his business and then began speaking. I spoke for 50 minutes, and it was the best and most relevant presentation I gave at the conference up to that point. No notes. No preparation. No Charlie. Just God and His Holy Spirit speaking through me. It was great, but it wasn’t my material.

The changes in the flow of the conference continued unabated. Two of my presentations were delayed by three hours each. One of the speakers who preceded me talked for two and one half hours. He went on and on. I couldn’t imagine following him. Would anyone have any energy left to listen to me? One person who was to tell his story didn’t show up. I had to come up with a new presentation to replace the story he was to tell. But you know what? It all worked perfectly. Much better than anything I had planned.

As I look back on the week of presentations, I realized God took me through a process. A process of how to trust God and not myself. Here is what I learned as the week’s events proceeded.

My belief Monday: Trust myself, welcome God’s help

While in Atlanta, I put in a lot of time preparing for the week of presentations. I was focused. I did research. Interviewed entrepreneurs. Took notes. Reviewed the notes for important themes. Summarized. Prayed. Meditated. Created agendas and outlines. I was ready.

My belief Tuesday: Trust God, but think I will do it

When the agenda and the plan changed, I had to trust God. I am not that good. Not that quick on my feet. The preparation certainly helped, but the presentation that morning after Peter spoke was God’s and not mine. It happened so fast, I had to trust Him. This was the first experience of the power of the Holy Spirit.

My belief Wednesday through the end: Trust God. Only.

The presentations which followed would come quickly. God gave them to me using His “just in time” methodology. For example, on the way to the hotel after my Wednesday morning talk at the conference, I needed a new afternoon presentation. The person who was to tell his story canceled. I had an hour. I sat down and wrote out an outline for another presentation I just knew I had to give. It was entitled “How the Wounds of our Father Impact How We Lead.”

This topic needed to be addressed because of what I heard in the first two stories told. Ugandans have father wounds, too. It was perfect. It was complete. This happened several times including preparation for a leadership workshop I conducted the day after the conference. It was amazing.

Back to Old Habits

Now that I am back home, I have slowly slipped back to trusting in me with God’s help. I live in a world where I naturally set limits on what I will do. I may stretch myself a bit from time to time, but I still believe, with enough focus and dedication, I can accomplish what I set out to do. There is no need to trust God when I live this way. I’m in control and operating in my wheelhouse. I just don’t need Him.

During my week in Uganda I was trusting God because I had no choice. I was scheduled to speak on topics yet to be defined. It was my best work. Now back in Atlanta, I want to get back to trusting God. I need to put myself at risk. I need to rely on God for ideas. I must trust Him to come through as I get out of the way. Based on my experience in Uganda, I can’t wait to see what God has planned.

Here is the verse which was playing in my head the whole time I was at the conference.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. Submit to him in all your ways and he will make your path straight.” Proverbs 3:5

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