As a child, I had to get a permission slip to leave early from school for a doctor’s appointment or school activity. Sometimes it was a bit challenging depending on how legit it really was for me to leave school, but giving myself permission for directions in life today can be the most challenging of all. Here are a couple of permission slips you might want to think about giving yourself:
Give yourself permission to fail.
From 2008 to 2011, I co-directed the Biola Media Conference and in 2009 the full responsibility of directing the conference fell to me through a series of circumstances. After praying for God’s direction, He impressed on me that it was time to move it from the university where the conference had been held for years and launch it on the CBS Studio Lot in Hollywood. There were many obstacles in doing this, but I took God’s challenge ignored the many whispers of doubt among several university officials and obeyed. The event ended up being the largest conference ever produced at that time for Christians working in secular media and entertainment. Taking on one of the university’s most prized yearly events was daunting, but God had assured me He’d be there and He didn’t fail. Did I have thoughts of failure? You bet. They loomed over me like dark clouds but obeying God was more important. I had to give myself permission to fail and risk it all knowing that His will was vital.
Compare the events of King Saul and David in the books of Samuel in the Bible. God honored Saul with being the first King of Israel and gave Saul specific directions, but over and over Saul failed to fully obey. The early years of David’s life and leadership were full of challenges, victorious battles and running for his life. He failed at many personal things but he never failed at seeking God first and obeying His direction to the letter, even when it seemed impossible. Knowing that God’s ultimate will is more important than our personal will is essential if we are to be successful.
Give yourself permission to change your mind.
Making strategic decisions often means making difficult choices. It may mean challenge, sacrifice and financial suffering but right choices reap huge rewards even when we realize we weren’t right to begin with and need to swallow our pride and change our mind.
When I entered college in Oklahoma I gave it six months. It was the last place on earth I thought I’d find myself at the beginning of my university life. I had been raised in Las Vegas, Nevada, a happening town, and Tulsa, Oklahoma was flyover city. But God had His directional winds blowing. It was at Oral Roberts University, in the middle of nowhere (so I thought), that I would gain clarity, a Biblical foundation, a lifelong companion – my husband, Phil Cooke, and a life I would never have had if I had not trusted and obeyed God. In giving myself permission to change my mind, God also showed me that it was His ultimate love for me that allowed me to ultimately choose. I could follow His leading or not. He wasn’t going to be a dictator of my destiny. It was this freedom to choose that ultimately gave me the ability to be free to make the right decision. Only a sovereign loving Father can do that. Today looking back, I’m glad I chose to go but even more so today I’m thankful that God loves me enough to allow me to change my mind. In our culture of fickleness and fear of permanence, it’s a gift of love that can only be granted by a God who loves us unconditionally.
Becoming an adult means we’re given many privileges and choices. God honored us with two great permission slips. Will you use them wisely? Saul listened to God but he never fully obeyed and it cost him his sanity and kingdom so God gave it to David who did. They both failed and changed personal decisions several times, but only David sought God’s direction and followed it to the letter.
In the New Testament, Jesus specifically prayed for us to be strong in trusting and obeying God. He said to Simon Peter, “Simon, Simon, behold, Satan has demanded permission to sift you like wheat; but I have prayed for you, that your faith may not fail; and you, when once you have turned again, strengthen your brothers. Luke 22: 31-32 (NAS) The greatest permission slip you can give yourself is ultimately your permission to obey God.
Will you act on that permission?