Immediately after we walked in the door we knew that we were home. Catherine and I were on our first year of marriage and had found this church, Pabellón de la Victoria in Puerto Rico, through a mutual friend. On the first day, Pastor “Tito” Cabán and his wife Sandra welcomed us in and, as soon as we hugged, we connected deeply.
That first Sunday, they were sending out the last remnant of leaders who were not in agreement with the direction of the church. We arrived in a difficult but exciting time of transition for them. God took us on a journey of growth that still bears good fruit in our lives today. We went from visiting for the first time, to hanging out every weekend, to becoming their youth pastors, in less than 4 months. These incredible pastors made a way for us, not just to be leaders in their house, but also to be family with them. We preached the Father’s love message every chance we got. We continually ministered heart healing to the leaders and the congregation. We started to reach to the poorest of the poor in the city, and began to see signs and wonders in all of our meetings. We wrote songs, recorded a worship album, and brought in some of the most anointed people on the planet to share at the local church. Tito and Sandra were beyond humble and teachable. They made room for our gifting and we made room in our lives for theirs. And it was their leadership and passion for Jesus that made way for a legitimate move of God that is still ongoing today.
However, after three years of incredible love and unity, I was convinced that all these good things were happening in the church because of me (and only me). I was deceived to the core and I found myself regularly annoyed on Sunday mornings. I could hear my thoughts as I criticized everything done by the rest of the team: “the offering talk is too long; we are not doing enough Father Heart ministry; this worship is not going anywhere.” And on and on my pride puked. I actually felt a sort of hatred brewing on the inside.
Tito preached incredible messages, but I could not see the good in it. There were miracles happening in his ministry that I had never seen in mine. Somehow it felt like he was stealing and then twisting my revelations and doing much better than I was! So I started to believe that something was wrong and someone needed to correct it. “He just needs a bit more heart healing” I thought; “We are not focusing on the right things; they should be doing this, and that, or the other.” My pride kept whispering in my ear and polluting my already broken heart.
One morning, I laid on the cold tile floors of our church after having this thought: “Wow, today they are striving so much that I’m going to have to show them how to rest in His presence.” My statement sounded spiritual but it was full of jealousy and contempt.
The Father is more interested in our hearts than our ministries. He cares more about our character and integrity than He does about our anointing.
But it is amazing how ministry and the anointing can provide the perfect scenario for our true character to be revealed and our hearts to be healed.
Therefore, as I lay there pretending to be praying (and pretending to be right) I had a picture of the Trinity walking by. The Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit drew near to me. And this was literally a holy ambush! I saw the Father as He sat on the ground and placed His hands on my chest. The Son sat just above my head and started stroking my hair. The Holy Spirit was moving all around me, with fire, wind and glory.
Just then I realized that God had come close to love me out of my pride. “Why am I even here? These people don’t receive my message anymore, why won’t you just give me my own church to lead?” I said – straight into honesty, by-passing the religious chatter and sharing exactly what I felt. I was angry and frustrated. Things were not going my way. In my eyes, people did not value my call or my anointing anymore. Somehow, God needed to understand that Tito was wrong, and I was right.
Tears of disappointment started to well up as I shared with God my complaint. The Father listened, Jesus cared and the Holy Spirit was attentive. Then, because of His loving kindness, God asked me the most revealing of questions, “What if I asked you to be number two to Tito for the rest of your life?”
Ouch! The question asked proved that this was really God speaking for I would have never put myself in that predicament. Only He could be so fatherly and yet so challenging.
“My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by him. For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.” Hebrews 12:5-6
By this point I was aware that I would not get away with anything else but dying to that immaturity and competition. There was no getting up from the floor without surrendering, not just to God but also to serving my fellow man.
Afterwards, Jesus leaned over to me and while He looked straight into His Father’s eyes, He said, “I love being second place.” My heart broke because I knew what they were asking; they wanted me to be Joshua but my hunger was to be Moses; they wanted me to serve, but my passion was to lead.
Since getting involved in church I had always desired to be in ministry: epic hopes for the work of God. The problem was that the goal turned into ambition for leadership and the ambition turned into the pride that contaminated me.
So the Father asked again, “Are you willing? My Son has been my willing number two for all of eternity. Will you join Him?”
For 30 seconds I went into defense mode. I felt attacked and fearful about losing my dreams. I tried to explain to myself the theological reasons why that language was not right. I wanted to escape this moment and disregard it as false humility being produced by my stupid imagination. Then, I tried to remember all the prophetic words spoken about my calling: the missions, church planting, crusades. “How could I ever do these as a number two?”
“No Father” I said through bitter tears “I don’t think I can.” Then I paused, as I heard my own voice, for it sounded like an orphan who begs to belong. I knew I was wrong, and I knew this was sin. So I took a deep breath and I felt God’s kindness surround me. There I was, contradicting God, holding on to ambition but He still loved me while showing me His compassion in my weakness.
The best I could do was to rebuild my answer. “I don’t feel like I am prepared God, but I want to be. Teach me to be a number two.”
And the Trinity smiled.
Immediately, Jesus leaned over to me one more time and said: “You will love being number two.”
When my soul heard the sound of His voice, everything stopped. His statement was like a whisper that initiated a tornado. I felt as if my heart got ripped from the inside out, and in one moment, I was changed forever. I was properly sobbing and saying out loud , “I am willing Father, make me a number two.”
After 20 minutes of crying out the pain and receiving the joy of surrender, I got up and everything looked different. Worship sounded heavenly and Tito’s sermon went straight into my spirit. There were no walls between us and I left the room more alive than ever. From that moment on, I was convinced wholeheartedly that if God asked me to be number two to this man for the rest of my life, I would love it.
So, to get rid of your ambition once and for all, you will have to encounter the One who has none. Because this new reality had nothing to do with any self manufactured humility. This was an invitation for true honour and it came as a gift from God to my heart.
The formula for success in Heaven is the opposite of the formula for success on earth. I guess that is the reason why Jesus played the cards backwards. And no one could say it better than Paul in Philippians 2, “Agree with each other, love each other, be deep-spirited friends. Don’t push your way to the front; don’t sweet-talk your way to the top. Put yourself aside, and help others get ahead. Don’t be obsessed with getting your own advantage. Forget yourselves long enough to lend a helping hand. Think of yourselves the way Christ Jesus thought of himself. He had equal status with God but didn’t think so much of himself that he had to cling to the advantages of that status no matter what. Not at all.”
The great men and women of this world are usually the ones that move from the burden of “this is good for me” to the pleasure of “this will be good for them.”
What if instead of seeing our boss as the unbearable number one, we saw ourselves as a happy number two? What if, instead of demanding to be treated as the number one at home, we saw ourselves as a joyful number two to our family? What if instead of being the number one critic of our pastor, we become an enthusiastic number two, at their service. Anyone who wants to be first must be last, and the servant of all.
So go ahead sons and daughters. Show off your silver medal. It was never God’s design for anyone to be on the very top. That place belongs only to Him. Let His knees be your throne, let His kindness be your language, and let His power be your glory.
[bctt tweet=”When your identity is sonship, your title will be servant.”]
*How are you doing with your pride recently? How do you deal with feeling of ambition in your heart? Comment below and lets help each other live a Happy Sonship!
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