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America has been called the land of opportunity. The possibility of upward mobility in this nation is what draws thousands of immigrants from all over the world each year. The truth is that opportunity is everywhere. Regardless of your position, status, income level or background, today’s opportunities are what determine tomorrow’s realities.
Today’s Opportunities Determine Tomorrow’s Realities.
Recently my wife and I were travelling for the first time with our baby girl Adelyn. We quickly discovered that upon exiting the interstate with a sleeping baby, the shift in speed immediately takes them from a deep sleep to wide awake. We applied our learning to the trip home and determined to drive as long as possible to capitalize on her sleep in the car.
After nearly 3 hours we needed to stop for lunch and our location resulted in a limited selection of food choices. We ended up with only two fast-food options, one being a place neither of us had visited in nearly 10 years, so we thought we’d give it a chance.
It didn’t take long for my recollections to be confirmed as little had changed from a lack in timely service to an unwelcoming environment and staff to the quality of food. While we were eating I told my wife, “Today this establishment had an opportunity to change my mind, but instead it has confirmed what I already believed.”
In that moment, I was reminded that every person and organization has a window of opportunity to make an impact on people’s assumptions, opinions and pre-conceived beliefs. Not only is this true for the marketplace, but it’s also true for the church.
Each week, the church has the opportunity to create a life-giving environment where people are encouraged and experience the love of God in a life changing way.
I love that at James River Church, we continually hear from new individuals and families who say things like “I never knew church could be so exciting” and “People are happy to be here” and the best comment, “I experience the presence of God here in a powerful way.” Each week, the church has the opportunity to create a life-giving environment where people are encouraged and experience the love of God in a life-changing way.
How do you develop an eye for opportunity?
Developing an eye for opportunity is one of the keys for growth in any business, church or even an individual’s desire for increased position and influence. An inability to identify opportunity will inevitably result in missed opportunity and lack of growth.
Certainly not every opportunity deserves our attention and pursuit, but maturity and proper discernment leads a person to both recognize and seize the best opportunities.
Great organizations and leaders understand that the best opportunities come with a time limit.
The word opportunity stems from the word opportune which refers to something that is well-timed and meets exactly the demands of the time or occasion.
Therefore, an eye for opportunity sees and identifies what needs to be done at the right time. Since opportunity is based on proper timing, great organizations and leaders understand that the best opportunities come with a time limit. Simply put, opportunity can be overlooked and even completely missed.
The question then is how does a person develop an eye for opportunity and how should a Christian know what opportunities to pursue?
Here are just two Scriptures in the New Testament that provide some direction:
Ephesians 5:15-17 (NIV)
Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.
Colossians 4:5-6 (NLT)
Live wisely among those who are not believers, and make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be gracious and attractive so that you will have the right response for everyone.
The Apostle Paul, author of both of these letters, points to some things necessary if you’re going to develop an eye for the best opportunities in life:
1. Live Carefully & Wisely
What does Paul mean when he tells us to “live carefully”? In the context of this verse, Paul is pointing to the reality that there is a constant battle taking place for good vs. evil or light vs. darkness. He provides examples in chapter 5 of what the darkness promotes versus what God’s Word teaches.
Not all opportunity is from God, and if we aren’t living carefully, we’ll make the most of the wrong opportunities.
Paul recognizes that not all opportunity is from God, and if we aren’t living carefully, we’ll make the most of the wrong opportunities. Developing an eye for opportunity begins with recognizing good and evil and choosing to align our lives with what is good, right and godly.
So an opportunity for advancement may arise in your workplace requiring decisions and actions that would compromise your faith. Paul says to be wise and recognize that not all opportunity should be pursued.
Great leaders understand the principle that making the most of every opportunity requires you to say no to some good things so you can say yes to the best things.
2. Understand the Lord’s Will
Living carefully and wisely is the gateway to understanding the Lord’s will for your life, which leads to making the best decisions. We all want to make great decisions but that only happens when we make pre-decisions. Pre-decisions are determining how we will respond to a situation before that situation forces us to respond.
If you’re unmarried, a pre-decision to honor the Lord with your relationships in order to walk in God’s favor and blessing strengthens your ability to apply that decision when faced with an opportunity to compromise that commitment.
Pre-decisions are no guarantee, but they certainly aid our seizing of great opportunities from the Lord and fleeing opportunities brought by the enemy.
Understanding the Lord’s will becomes clearer as we spend time in his presence and his word. By knowing the Lord’s will, you will position yourself to make the most of every opportunity.
The responsibility of opportunity
As we head into our James River Christmas weekend, we have an incredible opportunity. It’s one that can change a person’s perspective to what church is like and demonstrate the love of Christ in their lives in a whole new way. We have the best news on planet earth – that every human being has been created by God to know, love and worship Him.
Our responsibility is to extend the invitation and pray for God to do the transformation.
Whether the decisions you need to make are in your family, business, friendships or your church, as you seek to understand the Lord’s will and live carefully and wisely, you’ll experience the ability to identify and make the most of right opportunities that will transform your life and leadership.
Making the most of every opportunity means you’ll say no to good things so you can say yes to the best things.
It’s our responsibility to turn opportunity into reality.