Interrupted But Not Discouraged

…I will…if the Lord permits… (1 Corinthians 16:5-7). 

Paul had a desire to visit certain cities to share the Gospel, so he made his plans. But he was careful to add, “if the Lord permits.” He knew from personal experience that God knows best the where and the when.

In fact, the first time Paul came to Macedonia, it was only after he had been blocked from his original plans—

They tried to go to certain regions of Asia, but they were prevented by the Holy Spirit (Acts 16:6).

They headed toward Bythinia, but again the Spirit of Jesus did not allow them to go there (Acts 16:7).

While at Troas, Paul had a vision of a man from Macedonia, so they concluded that God was calling them to preach there (Acts 16:9-10).

We must know that we know that God has green-lighted an opportunity for us. Where God opens opportunities, satan is sure to attack (1 Corinthians 16:9). We don’t want to then assume that the attack means that we are in the wrong place at the wrong time, or even in the right place at the wrong time.

Paul made his plans, but he also remained interruptible.

When God said, “Go!” Paul could endure any opposition because he was assured that God had called. And when God said, “No” Paul could rest peacefully because he was assured that God knew the best place at the best time.

The same principle is true for godly leaders today—

A mark of a godly leader is one who is interruptible without becoming discouraged.

This is part 39 in my series on godly leadership. You can check out all of my posts in this series by clicking here.

Am I Interruptible?

Time after time, Jesus was on His way someplace when someone “interrupted” Him. But was it really an interruption? Do we ever hear Jesus saying, “Not now, I’m busy with someone else”? No! 

Jesus said that every step He took during the day was directed by His Father, so Jesus is our example for dealing gracefully with any “interruptions” by those who need help.

If I pray as Jesus taught—“Your kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven”—then the people He sends my way are never interruptions. Instead, they are people who also need to experience God’s kingdom for themselves, and since God has allowed them to cross my path, that means that God entrusts me with the privilege of showing them God’s kingdom love.

If I am God’s servant, that means I must be interruptible by my Master. 

A servant doesn’t get up in the morning and sit around waiting for the master to tell him every single task to be done that day. The servant gets up and gets busy with what needs to be done. 

But neither does the servant put off the master’s request because he’s busy with a task. The servant doesn’t respond, “I’ll get to that request after I finish what I’m doing,” but instead the servant responds immediately to the master. The master’s requests have priority. 

So too with me. I get up and get busy, but my heart is listening for my Master to “interrupt” me (although it’s not truly an interruption!) with someone who is in need. 

May my heart always be ready to say an immediate “yes!” to anyone my Master sends across my path today. 


Every once in a while I need to be reminded of this truth: “We can make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps.”

Yesterday my plans were set. They were planned down to the minute. Here was my agenda:

  • Leave home early for a meeting in Kalamazoo.
  • Swing by the office to pick up a key.
  • Head to a house in downtown Kalamazoo for a meeting.
  • Complete the meeting in about an hour.
  • Drive to my parents’ house to change into a business suit.
  • Then head to downtown Grand Rapids for another meeting with some key business and ministry leaders in the inner-city.

Instead, on my way to Kalamazoo, I had the following phone conversation:

“Sorry, but I forgot to drop the key off on Friday. Can I meet you at the house to give it to you?”

“Sure. I can meet you there.”

“I need to ask another favor. I’m running late. Can you just find a coffee shop somewhere and meet me about 30 minutes later than we had planned?”

“Okay,” I said not too assuredly since this was starting to throw off my “perfect” schedule.

I pulled into a McDonald’s in downtown Kalamazoo, right across the street from the Greyhound bus station. I sat in my car for a couple of minutes, and then felt the need for a fruit and yogurt parfait. After making my purchase I had a grand total of $7.94 left in my pocket.

I walked to the restroom.

Just as I walked in, a man motioned to me. He wanted to say something quietly to me. Given the neighborhood I was in, I was expecting the usual “Can you help me out with some loose change” plea. Instead…

“Um, can you help me out,” asked the man that would later introduce himself as Buster.

“Sure. What do you need?”

“I had an accident and I need some clothes to change into,” he said quietly.

“I saw a mission around the corner,” I said. “Do they have clothes?”


“Okay, c’mon. I’ll walk over there with you.” And I turned to walk out of the restroom.

Buster grabbed my coat sleeve and pulled me back. “Um, he said looking at the floor, “I … I’m HIV-positive.”

“Really,” I said as I put my arm around his shoulders, “I’m Craig.”

Buster smiled.

We walked to the mission and he picked out some sweat pants, a sweatshirt, a pair of shoes, a pair of pants, and a winter jacket. Total: $7.42.

“I’m going to pay you back for this, Craig.”

“No, you’re not, Buster. This is my gift to you.”

As we walked toward the bus station, where Buster could use a restroom to change his clothes, he asked me,

“Do you ever think about dying?”

“I’m not afraid to die, Buster, but I’m not ready to leave just yet. Why do you ask?”

“Last night I got drunk. I was trying to get up enough courage to jump in front of a bus. I’m tired of living.”

“Buster, I think that would be the worst thing you could do.”

“Why? No one cares about me.”

“God does.”


“Buster, I don’t believe in accidents or coincidences. I wasn’t supposed to be at this McDonald’s today. But God rearranged my schedule just so I could meet you. God sent me here.”

Buster slowly nodded his head, “I believe that, Craig. I really do.”

Before I left Buster at the bus station, he asked for my phone number. I walked over to the ticket counter to borrow a pen. After I wrote my number down and turned around, a man was standing right in my path.

“My name’s Johnson. Buster told me what you did for him.”

I smiled and shook his hand.

“Why did you do that?” he asked.

I smiled again, “God sent me here. He loves Buster so much that He rearranged my schedule.”

“Can you help me,” Johnson asked, “but Buster said you used all of your money on him.”

“What do you need?”

He held open his hand with some loose change in it. “I need 50 cents more for my bus fare.”

I handed Johnson my last 52 cents.

King Solomon also wrote, “The Lord directs our steps, so why try to understand everything along the way?”

I didn’t understand why my “perfect” schedule got rearranged. But I’m glad it did. I’m glad I got to meet Buster.

What’s Your Work?

When I’m at business functions, I along with all of the other attendees are typically walking around with the “Hello, My Name Is” label stuck to my chest. The idea is that as I shake hands with new people I can glance down and say, “Nice to meet you, uh, Bob!”

Nine times out of ten, after the initial introduction is made the very next question people have for me is, “So, what do you do?” All of us usually give an answer related to our jobs: I’m a pastor, I’m a graphic designer, I’m a teacher, I’m a blogger, etc. Yes, that’s what you do; that’s your job. But what do you work at?

I’ve been thinking about this over the past couple of days. And what got me thinking were two “interruptions” to my job.

On Wednesday night I was teaching a Bible study. I was just getting to the pay-off—the part of the lesson where the attendees would really be challenged to apply the lesson to their real-life situations—when my lesson was interrupted. A friend had slipped out of his seat and was standing at the back. All of a sudden he was clutching his chest and saying, “I need help!” Immediately my lesson stopped, I was at his side trying to recall some of my medical training, and then asking someone to call 911.

I didn’t finish my “job” on Wednesday evening, but I did my work as a friend.

Today I had planned to devote the better part of my day to preparing a message for Sunday morning. It’s my “job” as a pastor to come to church prepared with a timely, relevant message. But after talking with a friend on the phone, I could hear the heavy despondency in his voice, and I knew I needed to go see him face-to-face.

I put my job on hold to go do my work as a friend.

Bill Hybels wrote, “Keep the ‘church’ in church work.” My work—as a member of the Church, as a friend—should always trump my “job.”

The Apostle Paul wrote, “Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:2).

At the end of my life, I don’t think God is going to ask me how good my sermons were. But He is going to ask me how well I did my work as His servant.

Then the King will say to those on His right, “Come, you who are blessed by My Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the creation of the world. For I was hungry, and you fed Me. I was thirsty, and you gave Me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited Me into your home. I was naked, and you gave Me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for Me. I was in prison, and you visited Me. … I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these My brothers and sisters, you were doing it to Me!” (Matthew 25:34-36, 40).

How’s your work going today?

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