Potential represents everything I could be if I wanted to badly enough. Potential is the nearly infinite flavors from which to make a banquet of possible recipes. Potential is a vast ocean upon which I can drift following various currents to explore new places and possibilities.
Destiny represents everything I should be if I surrender enough to enabling grace. Destiny is the clearly defined identity of who I was created to be and what I was called to do that Jesus is redeeming and restoring. Destiny reaching into the vast ocean of potential and focuses all my life and living upon the what-God-wants for me and the world around me.
Potential sounds exciting to the soul! Seems like a great adventure to the mind. Appeals to the pride of life influenced and controlled by the spirit of this world. Potential functions as a resource for the enemy of the Father, working directly opposed to His purposes.
What I Could Be or What I Should Be?
At one point or other in my life, I was interested enough in some of my potential that I gave considerable attention and energy to pursuing new aspects. My mind could function in a certain way that made me give attention to the study of law and functioning as an attorney. Early on, I had a real drive for music and some ability in the area of singing. For a season, I was deeply involved in business.
I suppose that had I given myself to the discipline at one point in my early childhood, I could have become a concert pianist, given a pathway of excellent training and eight hours a day of practice. Perhaps I had the talent to play professional sports if I could have walked through the training; I was a good hitter and had the potential for developing the skill set. I even suppose, given a certain environment and motivation, I could have become rather good at ballet.
That’s what potential looks like, and billions of people live by a “pride of life, demanding desires of eyes and soul” that explores the nearly unlimited possibilities of potential. They are moved to dig this dark mine for unshaped ore and batters it with the shocks of passionate patience, melt it down to malleable substance that can be formed into some desired or accepted end product.
Paul says this world will shape you in its mold, or you may shape yourself in that mold in order to fit yourself to your perceptions of the demanding desires of the pride of life. I am calling this the “pride of potential.” Modern believers are falling victim to the processing of potential in pandemic fashion as a substitute for God’s transformation discipling process.
Pride and Humility of Life
Romans 12:1-2 vividly contrasts potential with purpose, the shaping of life by the spirit of this world’s systems and the proving of what-God-wants as a basis for being His servant. Paul says that getting God the what-He-wants for our lives requires some radical activities that break us out of the demanding desires mold, and shatter pride of life deceptions off our minds.
Pride is basically deception, part of a spiritual twisting, perverting, and substitution. In short, hell is happy with human success as long as success avoids fulfilling the will of God. Pride is the deception presented by potential; a different end product lures us into a errant pathway. It pulls on the motivations of the fleshly mind to move us through the traces of perceived greatness and personal satisfaction. Allusive beauty appears in the mirror for a moment, and almost immediately begins to deceive us into objectifying our bodies, only to empty out the soul as it fades. Breaking the set goal and reaching a bit higher on the scale attracts us like moths to a flame of achievement but does little in itself to build us into leaders. We are deceived by what “they” want or what we want enough to make the substitute the end product of our existence.
For the original deceiver, pride lifted its five-fingered fist in the face of God and said, “I will, I will, I will, I will, I will.” Five times, “I will” ascend the hill, exalt myself, be God on my own. Pride is the deception produced by the pursuit of potential. The greater potential, the greater capacity for deception when perception of potential becomes the focus of existence.
In short, satan mistook the beauty and grace of his creation for potential available to himself instead of purpose to be fulfilled for God intention. Purpose represents God’s intentions. Potential represents everything else available to the work of this world.
A ten-ton rock can represent a substantial doorstop or a statue of a rearing stallion. Such is potential. Not every ten-ton rock will become a statue, we hope! Too many statues, too few doorstops. Some rocks are cut into slabs for flooring and decoration. Some are shattered into stone for roads and walkways. Some break open to reveal a vein of gold or a gem of brilliant color. The character of the stone, its natural attributes and structure, serve to define its potential, but someone else must give it purpose.
Pride of life says, Look what I have produced with potential. Humility says, Observe what God has shaped with surrender to His redemptive process. Pride appeals mostly to this world, a photo shoot for glossy-paged magazines proclaiming what pride of life can potentially produce, so fleeting it requires recording. Humility appeals mostly to God, fulfilling a purpose that lasts eternally, so lasting it becomes continues growing in value to be glorified in eternity.
A good definition of humility is “I am what I am by the grace of God.” (1 Corinthians 15:10)
Reclaimed for Purpose, not Potential
Everything Jesus made was created with purpose: God wants it. Revelation 4:11 says everything was made because of a what-God-wants, and that Divine desire gives created things purpose. Redemption acquires again the purpose of those things, a reclaiming of lost purpose so that purpose can be restored. All transformation is restoration.
Jesus created all. Jesus redeemed all. Jesus is restoring all.
So, getting into what God is doing – proving the good, acceptable and perfect will of God – requires a surrender so we can be reclaimed and aligned with purpose. This means much more work and effort than any pursuit of potential could demand! But it is never dependent upon “the breaks” or contrived opportunity or unjust or unfair human systems. Potential is victim to the whims of the world because it is the raw material used by the spirit of this world to produce the end product that satisfies the pride of life. Purpose is victory over the world because it is the goal of heaven; the Cross, and the Spirit to redeem and restore the what-God-wants.
What a massive gulf is fixed between “I could” and “I should!”
Many modern believers are falling into this “potential defines me” deception. Pride buffaloes them into a stampede of demanding the kingdom provide them a place for their potentials. Such a perception forces a system upon the kingdom contrary to its nature and the teaching of its King. The leadership Jesus bestowed upon the kingdom is not set to discover potential but to discern purpose. OK, let me say that again! The leadership of the kingdom bestowed by Jesus to “equip the holy ones” does not function as a heavenly talent search committee to measure potential as a means of getting the work of ministry done. The cry, “you can’t see my potential” is the echo of pride-of-life deception. Because you could doesn’t mean you should.
The fivefold leadership Jesus designed for His Body function to discern destiny, gifts, calling, and position for the members of the Body. In doing this, potential doesn’t even enter into the picture. Destiny is God’s definition of how potential is utilized toward His purposes. Gifts are, well, given by God and aren’t part of potential at all; they do not enable potential but empower destiny. Calling is assignment of personal destiny and will not answer to the pursuit of potential because we are called according to His purpose. And, the positioning of members within the Body to do the work of serving within the Body for the work the Body does in serving its generation is not based upon potential but upon the destiny, gifts, and assignment Jesus has placed upon and within its members.
Many members desire a leader who can discover their potentials and celebrate their “I could” instead of a leader assigned to see the greater scope of assignment for the corporate Body and position them to accomplish the “I should.” Leadership in the kingdom is never about personal potential; we are not reclaiming and restoring people to random pursuits of potential. There is no “could be” in destiny, only “should be.” Leadership in the kingdom has a prophetic screening process that discerns by the Spirit the destiny, gifts, calling, and positioning of God’s people for the specific pursuit of purpose. In this way, at every level of kingdom assignment, shared assignment, and leadership that fulfills assignment, the individual believer is properly positioned to get the what-God-wants for his life.
Believers function within the Body, not as separated “things” flopping about without connection. So, the infinitely wise and perfect Head can see exactly where each member connects and has destined, gifted, called, and seeks to prepare and position each member into the Body without contradiction of that person’s destiny. Positioning in the Body is win-win: good for the whole and good for the individual. God creates no contradiction with purpose but immediately sifts through potential to eliminate distractions. Potential does not provide for positioning; its demands that the Body all change to make room for personal pursuit instead of the individual being transformed by the renewing of the mind so they can realize the highest, greatest, and purest of their purpose within His Body.
Pride and Temptation
All the temptations satan threw in the face of Jesus were about potential. “I’ll give you the world if you abandon your purpose, ” he says. “You can achieve! Allow me to define your potential as the highest in your life instead of Your purpose.” Someone says, “Well, ruling the kingdoms is Jesus’ potential.” No! Ruling the world is His assignment and born-to-accomplish purpose.
satan says, “Turn stones into bread if you are God’s Son. You have the potential.” Herein is a subtle disruption of the purpose of power. The motivation behind the miracle, prophecy, preaching, or leadership is more important the activity itself because God can find several ways to get things done. It is the purpose that defines the power, not the potential. Miracles are not released to show us the potential of spiritual power else we are nearer to witchcraft than kingdom; Simon the Magician wished to purchase the power of the apostles because he was about potential more than purpose.
“Jump down from the pinnacle of the Temple and test the potential of your position. God won’t allow you to hit the ground.” This test of purpose explores achievement as a basis for leadership instead of assignment. Jesus was attempting to lead by popularity, doing what would attract the crowd like a kingdom circus performer. He knew that basis for leadership would require Him to continually “one-up” the previous miracles. “Show us a sign!” the crowd cried, after many miracles and signs had already been done. “An evil generation seeks signs,” Jesus says. Why? Because they demand to see the potential of position and power more than the purpose. The crowd that demands signs is also demanding to define the purpose of the signs.
In one way or other, the temptations answer to the spirit of the world motivations John mentions: demanding desires of flesh and eyes, and pride of life.
Jesus says, “I have the potential of calling for a legion of angels, but I have the purpose to die on the Cross.” When they ask for daily fish sandwiches after He turned a lunch into a feeding ministry, He replied, “Eat My body and drink My blood if you wish to receive My purpose.” They were interested in His potential, to provide fish sandwiches like Moses provided manna.
They sought the entitlement of potential and walked away from paying the price of purpose. Entitlement accompanies the pursuit of potential; it is the whisper of the serpent, “He knows you become like gods. Eat the fruit of potential that God is keeping from you. Pursue your potential!”
Pride is deception. Pride of life appropriates potential for the spirit of the world captivity; you think you are reaching your highest when you are being empty of purpose by distraction. Potential produces achievers more than leaders. Purpose positions us to produce for the kingdom; potential presses us into the mold of this world.