Listening to God

27 02 2007

 

sunset.JPG On six occasions over my life God has spoken to me.

 

The first time was at the age of 15 and the last time was only a year ago.

At the age of 15 I experienced a dramatic conversion. I was living a selfish and sinful life which came to a head one afternoon when I was caught shoplifting some sunglasses. As I was bundled into the back of a police wagon, tears streaming down my face and subjected to my friends witnessing the event, I seriously contemplated suicide. But God had other plans. Over a period of a couple of hours a foreign word would pop up in my thinking: ‘demonic’.

I tried to ignore it but eventually succumbed and found a dictionary. The definition simply read, ‘possessed by a demon.’ These few words completely changed the way I viewed myself and the world around me. Up until then I had no idea about matters spiritual and sudpraying-hands.JPGdenly I was being confronted with a spiritual reality in a very personal way.

I phoned my friend Glyn who I knew was a Christian and asked him what his God could do for me. He encouraged me to say the sinner’s prayer. So I retreated to my bedroom, and prayed my first prayer, confessing my sinful life and finishing by inviting God into my life. I felt an immediate and overwhelming feeling of God’s love as I was born anew!

The second time I heard God’s voice was under much less dramatic circumstances – at the age of 19 I received a call to the Anglican Priesthood. This calling has remained unfulfilled over the years though I am now exploring with the Diocese of Wellington (NZ) the possibility of being ordained as a Priest in such a way that I can assist the Church in its mission without disrupting my work as CEO of The Bible Society.

The third calling was at the age of 21 when I married my beautiful wife Louise. God called us together and out of this union, we have three amazing children.

The forth time I heard God was the encouragement to start a Christian Community. For three years in my mid 20’s we lived in a community with another couple and a single guy, sharing all that we had (bar our wives and our underwear!). We worked hard at what it meant to be in community. We attempted to live the dictum, ‘community begins at the point of weakness’ as we shared openly and honestly with each other. We prayed, studied, worshipped and struggled together. We started a small group ministry that grew to some four groups and lasted 8 years. We endeavored to live our Christianity out and not just talk about it.

The fifth calling was to organisational leadership. It happened while I was working in middle management in a Christian organisation called YouthCARE. I was 30 at the time and clearly felt a sense that though I was young, God was calling me to lead an organisation. And so I began to prepare, enrolling in a Master of Business Administration degree. At the age of 31 I commenced as National Director of Scripture Union in New Zealand and now 35, I have the privilege of being the CEO of The Bible Society in New Zealand.

thinker.JPGThe final calling which came a year ago, is to be a thought leader. To generate ideas and methods that encourages the church and Christian agencies to move forward.

It is essential to be relevant to the world around us that we remain contemporary and fresh.

This blog is a forum to share my thinking and hopefully encourage you to think a little differently about your walk and work.

I am also privileged to have the opportunity to share a short commentary on a current social issue live on National Christian Radio every couple of weeks.

And I am slowly developing my writing ability with my first article recently being published in Stimulus, a theology journal. And presently I am working through a Doctorate in Business Administration, focused on organisational cultures within Christian ministry organisations.

What has been common to each of these callings is that God expects me to step out of my comfort zone.

As Philippians 3: 10-14 reads,

I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead. Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

To strive toward the goal, to forget what is behind. The reading above also helps focus what being called by God are all about. It is not an exercise in self aggrandizement or about promoting brand ‘Mark Brown’ but about knowing Christ and sharing His radical message of the power of His resurrection.

Mark

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6 responses

28 02 2007
Paul Lewis

Mark – thanks for this. I particularly appreciated being reminded of the Philippians 3 passage. In some ways, being a thought leader, is the most Christ-like leadership role. He was never a CEO nor even a mid-level manager. Still, his ideas led him from heaven to earth and to the Cross.

Blessings!

28 02 2007
Mark Brown

Thanks Paul,

I appreciate your encouragement. Also your words have inspired me… a future post title perhaps: ‘Was Jesus a CEO?’ Be also interesting to spend some time thinking about whether Jesus started a movement or an organisation and what that means for us.

I do hope all is well with you mate.

Mark

28 02 2007
Bec

Mark,

With your story about listening with God,
That reminded me with my listing to God, when he spoke to me about my trip to the Philipans in 2005, then when he spoke to me about getting more involved with the children’s ministry at Church in the Sunday school, I started with Pre-priamey when I was about 24 then being move up to the year 1-2 this year. I better go and get on my work.

28 02 2007
Mark Brown

Thanks Bec,

Great to hear of how God has worked in your life!

God bless ya.

Mark

28 02 2007
marks advocate

funny really what makes u think that it was god, in turn u have taken a smattering of your successful events and pinned them up.
call a spade a pitchfork it is still a spade, heres a story that i can tell in hindsight which allows me to omit mistakes and perhaps mould the outcomes to better suit……..

28 02 2007
Mark Brown

G’day marks advocate,

Thanks for your comments.

If I was going to select a smattering of my ‘succesful events’ to retrospectively display God’s providence, I would’nt choose these six moments.

Characteristic of each of the six events I share is that they were unplanned and created considerable difficulty for me. Hence the point about moving out of my comfort zone.

Being a thought leader as an example: I was fairly useless at school and as such I developed somewhat of a complex that I was dumb. Saying clever stuff was for others to say and for me to admire. When I felt God’s call to become a thought leader it wasn’t so much that I think I am clever but that God believes I have something to say. I trust in this.

Also when you say that I chose ‘successful events’ I think immediately of the massive failure that was my calling to the Anglican Priesthood. I struggled for years to conprehend why God would call me to something that wasn’t completed (and still isn’t).

Or of the calling to Christian Community which was characterised by the dictum, ‘community begins at the point of weakness.’ Fulfilling this calling was hard work, but I stuck to it because I believed God had called me to it.

Your comment about omitting mistakes is a little unfair given my topic was specifically to do with God calling me and not a discussion on my mistakes. I am quick to admit my mistakes and happy to discuss them, but I suspect they would’nt make a very interesting post. (smile)

And your final insinuation that I manipulated my story to suit the topic is plain unfair. I welcome your comments and the dialogue that may follow but please stick to what you read or know of me.

Thanks again for your thoughts.

Mark

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