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Our Choice

Years ago when we first started doing Jesus Culture conferences, the Lord showed me something that changed my life forever. It was the morning session of one of our conferences, and I was scheduled to speak. I was sitting on the front row as nervous as could be. I was not at all confident about what I was going to preach. Judah Smith, one of the premier youth pastors in the nation from Seattle, Washington, had spoken the night before and just tore it up. It had been a phenomenal night—everything you would want at a conference.

He shared an incredible word that was inspiring, practical, deep, and funny. Then he moved into a powerful time of ministry where he spoke out words of knowledge and prophesied over people. All over the room, people encountered God and were rocked by the prophetic words Judah spoke over them.

After such an incredible night, the next morning I sat there in the front row trying to enjoy worship but not able to because I was so anxious. I wasn’t concerned because I desperately wanted God to minister His extravagant love to people. I was nervous because I didn’t want to look stupid in front of Judah as I preached. I’m pursuing being a great son, a son who knows that his Father loves him and in turn is in love with his Father.

As I sat there praying that my sermon would go well for all the wrong reasons, the Lord spoke to me. “Banning, you have a choice. You can either choose to be a preacher or a son. If you choose to be a preacher, you will be good sometimes and other times you won’t be that good. But if you choose to be a son, you will always be good because you are a fantastic son.”

That simple word from the Lord completely changed my attitude and my ministry. I knew I had to choose what I wanted to be.

I decided right then and there that I didn’t want to be a preacher. I just want to be a son. And I’m a great son. I don’t want to be a pastor, an itinerant minister, or anything else. I just want to be a son. Don’t get me wrong; I want to be a great preacher and a great pastor, but I also realize that those things are not what motivate me. I’m pursuing being a great son, a son who knows that his Father loves him and in turn is in love with his Father. Everything else I do must be a result of that pursuit.

I’m not called to work for God as a preacher; I’m called to be His son. I will preach as a son, but how I’m doing and who I am are not dependent on how well I preach—or not.

God’s work of establishing intimacy with His people as their first priority and thereby sealing us in our true identities is going to shift the ministry of His Church onto a different foundation—its true foundation.

Everything that is not built upon that framework of intimacy and identity in God just doesn’t have what it takes to last. The Lord told me early on in ministry that anything I do that is not founded in love is unstable. It is not bad to desire having an effective ministry that achieves great things for God as long as it’s founded in your love for Him.

I’ve been in ministry long enough to know that it can be very unpredictable. One year I can put on an event that is extremely successful and the next year hold the same event and have it fail miserably. But it’s all okay as long as I keep my focus on what I really want to be, which is not a successful minister but a successful son. I want everything I do to be grounded in my love for my Father.

This Book Excerpt was taken from Jesus Culture from Banning Liebscher. See it here on the Jesus Culture Store here.

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