the shape of leadership

Discovering the Value of “Maybe”

3 steps to guide you through a season of unknowns

Jay Newland on January 26, 2017

I’ll make one more call. That’s what I told myself after driving by the newly listed property. For the better part of nine months, the church I was pastoring in Omaha, Nebraska, had been calling agents and touring properties in search of a new location. Our church had been meeting for the first eight years in various locations, including a high school and later a warehouse, before I felt God prompting us to let our lease run out, trusting Him for a bigger space.

With our lease expiring in a matter of weeks, I kept praying and looking. That’s when I spotted a new sign with a number I hadn’t dialed yet. After making one more call, I soon found myself walking through a 20,000-square-foot building that seemed too big and too expensive for a church our size. But we were a small church with big dreams. So with little hesitation, I handed the leasing agent, Scott, our “Vision Packet,” which outlined our dreams of life change and the very little resources we had to make it all happen. 

When I placed the packet in Scott’s hand, I prepared him for the reality we were not his dream buyer but emphasized our belief God had a bigger dream for our church.  As he glanced at the document, he smiled and replied with a statement that got my attention. “Well, the owner is a born-again Christian, so maybe she would be willing to work something out.” The word that rang in my head for the rest of the day was “maybe.”

The “maybe” an optimistic real estate agent uttered actually resembled the invitation Jonathan gave his armor bearer in 1 Samuel 14. In his daring plan to challenge a Philistine outpost, Jonathan invited his armor bearer to join him in his mission. 

“Perhaps the Lord will act in our behalf. Nothing can hinder the Lord from saving, whether by many or by few” 1 Samuel 14:6.

Perhaps. Sounds a lot like a maybe. For Jonathan, “maybe” was a courageous invitation to his sidekick, and they would not be disappointed. God helped them in a big way even though they were lacking in numbers and resources. I have no doubt Jonathan and his armor bearer experienced an exhilarating feeling that day as they watched God turn a “perhaps” into a “most definitely.”

The word “maybe” is like a two-sided coin. On one hand, it can be a word that carries uncertainty and doubt. But on the other hand, it can be an invitation for hope and faith.  Even though we had searched for months and heard countless rejections from agents and owners, I chose to follow Jonathan’s example and accept “maybe” as an invitation from God to believe. So we embraced the idea that the “maybe” which began with a real estate agent might be the beginning of something truly miraculous.

With God’s incredible invitation, He taught me that “maybe” was an opportunity to look forward in faith and believe for what is possible with Him.

Not surprisingly, we soon received a call from the owner, Carol, and arranged a meeting. In preparation, our leaders agreed on a number we would offer the owner for the space — an amount that was only 25 percent of the market value. But we believed the “maybe” that had been spoken weeks earlier was a preview of a miracle that was about to happen.

We gathered at a local restaurant with Carol where we listened to her share how our vision packet had stirred her heart. We listened intently to her excitement for our big dreams of life-change in Omaha.

I wanted to pinch myself. But before I had the chance, God blew us away with the invitation Carol extended to us. The owner looked me in the eyes and said, “Make me an offer; I won’t say no.” Our 25 percent was more than enough for God. Just like Jonathan and his two-man army, God can use whatever little we have to do big things for the Kingdom.   

After that lunch meeting, the word “maybe” would forever be redefined in my heart as both a follower of Christ and as a leader. It was no longer an uncertain reply. Rather, it was now a smile that accompanies a hopeful step of faith. With God’s incredible invitation, He taught me that “maybe” was an opportunity to look forward in faith and believe for what is possible with Him. 

Whether you are searching for direction or need a solution to what seems like an impossible situation, here are three steps to guide you on your journey to discovering the value of “maybe.”

Look for possibilities before solutions. Too often, we are looking for the answer to our problem when God wants to invite us to imagine His possibilities. Instead of cornering yourself into what “yes” and “no” looks like, start your search with a brainstorming session and begin imagining what God might want to do.

Prepare your “maybe” for a miracle. Believing that God might be in a situation is an important step but not the only one. We were prepared for our miracle meeting because we had outlined our vision and dreams and we also knew the exact amount of resources available to us. So before maybe arrives, prepare your dream so “maybe” can quickly move to “absolutely.”

Remember the odds are in His favor. In the movie The Empire Strikes Back, Han Solo says, “Never tell me the odds.” His character invited the challenge of impossible odds. We should do the same. As a Christian leader, I’ve been slow in learning that my lack of people or resources is not a problem — its actually an opportunity God will always relish in. If the odds seem insurmountable, remember “nothing is too hard for God” (Jeremiah 32:7) and begin inviting God to show you what might be possible.


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