good ideas & good timing

Some of you – in some way or another serve as regional or national overseers. Or maybe your schedule / talents / calling have lined up in ways where now you do have the chance to think about helping multiple campus ministers thrive. Of course, this includes all of us bloggers, and anybody else who “presumes to teach” others.

So since a particular principle for that arena has come up twice in conversations in the last week, I figured it might be good to blog it. That principle?

It’s not only good ideas that matter for our field of college ministry, but good timing.

This was actually one of the things my yearlong road trip helped me see the most. As much as the next guy (and maybe more), I love to believe that implementing good ideas will always be fruitful. That is, it would be great to believe that I should get started as soon as I have the space and resources to…

But I’ve had a lot of time to ponder TIMING in the last three years. And I’ve come to recognize that I (and we) will have lots of good ideas for helping our field, but they’re only rarely good ideas for this moment. It’s a temptation for me to assume that I need to get started on every big idea I have, instead of recognizing that each “best idea” has a proper time. So I can’t count on simply my own understanding, passion, desire, or situation to indicate the proper time. (In fact, we all need each other’s wisdom on this!)

The place this principle comes up most often for me concerns publishing some “major” book on what I’ve learned about College Ministry (instead of simply my neat little ebook). Despite the occasional (and very encouraging) prodding by some, I haven’t even begun to weigh that in a serious way.

Why? Because I honestly don’t believe our field is ready to facilitate a “broad work” on college ministry at the moment (for several reasons). I also see other ways I can help our field better now by doing other things. Chasing my ideas is never simply a question of Yes or No. There’s always an opportunity cost: By choosing one idea, I’m saying No to others. If the timing isn’t right, I’m not only liable to have less impact than I could have, but I’m liable to miss out on other, more effective things!

Of course, the “book timing” issue is just my opinion, but it is based on a pretty healthy understanding of our field. And that’s simply one example of the “big ideas” any of us might have. As more and more of us look to help college ministry as a whole (which excites me greatly!), this kind of wisdom is – I hope – helpful. Maybe some of you naturally reckon “timing” into your calculations. I can be rather idealistic, so timing is hard for me to consider.

Of course, timing isn’t the only wisdom God uses to direct us, and He may very well direct us to best-ideas that defy our sense of timing, too. It’s just one ingredient in the decision-making process, to be sure. But until I have that wisdom, it may simply be that this big idea (whatever it is) isn’t for today. I can rest in the fact that the God of best-ideas is the God of best-timing, too.

Of course, if I can help you think through this timing issue for whatever cool ideas you’ve got, let me know! And the clock picture is from the Tarheel Tribe.

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