Nothing can frustrate the believer like closed doors in life and ministry. When I accepted a position as a staff pastor at The Summit Church nearly EVERY door I had as an itinerant minister closed instantly. I remember literally being angry with God (by the way, He’s not afraid of your emotions).
‘God I’ve travelled full-time for a number of years and all these doors close literally all at the same time.’ Up until this point I had been traveling in some capacity since I was 20, and God has allowed me to be a part of some amazing things, and in all these years of ministry I had never, not once, been canceled. I don’t attribute that to any pulpit excellence. I attribute it to God’s faithfulness. But when I accepted a pastoral position I was canceled twice within two months. One of them didn’t bother even telling me and I found out a week before the conference when I was calling to confirm airfare…but we’ll discuss ministerial ethics in another post. Suddenly there were no more calls coming in to travel and preach. Suddenly ministry partners were backing out because our itinerant ministry wasn’t bearing the same fruit.
I had to come to grips with the fact that doors were closing at a drastic rate and there had to be something hidden in this moment that God intended for me to see. Over the course of about a month God began to show me about closed doors and some recent events in my own life have caused me to revisit this revelation.
1. Focus on what is in front of you.
Too often when doors close we just keep looking at the closed door thinking that if we focus on what could have been it will magically open. God closes doors to cause us to focus on what is in front of us now, not what is behind some other door. If all the doors I had in ministry had stayed open when we first moved there’s no way I would have been as fruitful at The Summit because a good portion of my time would have been elsewhere.
In Nehemiah when the wall is being built we are told some are building these awesome gates and towers and the parts of the wall that are prominent while others, in Nehemiah 3:23, are just building what is in front of their house.
This is how we should treat closed doors. Instead of waiting for someone to invite us to build some other place we need to focus on and build what is directly in front of us. When God closes a door this should be the first question you ask: ‘What is in front of me right now?’
2. Focus on the process.
Some doors close because God was protecting us. We don’t need to worry about those because it had nothing to do with us, but we do need discernment on the doors that God had to close because we weren’t ready for them.
One of the most valuable lessons I’ve learned is that your gift and anointing can get you into a room…but it’s your character and integrity that will keep you there. Longevity in fruitful ministry doesn’t revolve around what you can do nearly as much as it does the state of your heart towards God.
There have been awesome doors that have closed in my face only for God to tell me ‘you weren’t ready for that one, son.’ That is either an opportunity to let your gift kick the door in, or an opportunity for you to submit to the process of pruning that will enable you to walk through the door later.
3. Focus on the season.
When I was canceled those two times and got indignant with the Lord, He simply said, ‘Son, you had those two events scheduled before coming to The Summit was even on your radar. I couldn’t let you go because you scheduled them in another season. This is a new season.’
God will close (and open) doors based on the season that you are currently in. God is about fruit before He’s about making you happy in ministry, and fruit depends on the season. By closing the door what God was saying was ‘I have a place in this season where you will bear more fruit, and to make sure it happens I need to close this door from the other season.’
4. Focus on God’s faithfulness.
One thing that will consistently bring peace when doors close is the fact that when God closes one door He is faithful to open another. One of my favorite verses is 1 Thess. 5:24 that says ‘The one who calls you is faithful, and HE WILL DO IT.’ Though faithfulness is constant, like many other spiritual principles, it has to be enforced as a present reality. How?
By constantly renewing your mind with the fact that God is faithful. By calling Him faithful. By letting truth undergird your thought patterns instead of ‘crap, all these doors closed…now what am I gonna do?’ We may live IN this world but dwelling on God’s faithfulness releases us to live FROM another world, a world in which the door we are waiting on are already open, even before we see them.
All of these ‘focus points’ involve focusing on God and hearing from Him. What should I focus on? What process am I learning? What season am I in? And the answer to all these is interlaced with God’s faithfulness. When we can properly see closed doors and let our response be towards God instead of towards worry it brings about an acceleration in the spirit to see things open sooner than later. The same way Israel focused on their issues and remained stubborn in the wilderness hindered their ability to enter the promised land in a timely manner, our response of complaining and worry hinders our ability to walk through the doors that God is trying to open.
Keep your mind stayed on God and watch Him open doors again. Remember, He that called you is faithful and He will do it!