Best Laid Plans

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Back in 2013, I went to MegaFest and during one of the sessions, Bishop T.D. Jakes said something dynamic in regards to Christian creatives.

“Prepare for the Kingdom; not the arena.”

Mind. Blown.

What a concept.

An apt word that applies just as much today as it did then.

We’ve all seen it. The self proclaimed Christian creative who seems more focused on retiring from their day job more than anything else. Where the Gospel message and Kingdom focus is their bargaining chip onto the mainstream platform, rather than the driving conviction of their heart and soul. We’ve all seen people like this. Heck, some of us **raises hand** have been that person.

It’s difficult not to!

Between the lames who seemed to have lucked out with income supported success and the genuine items who seem incredibly, and unrelatably blessed, it’s easy to get distracted. To prepare for the arena. Aspire to make the most money. Be the best entertainer. Have the strongest brand. Things which, on the surface, aren’t actually that bad. Those are not evil things. If you’re gonna make money… make a lot! If you’re going to be an entertainer… raise the bar! If you’re going to brand yourself… go big like Disney. Those are good things.

Except for one thing.

Jesus.

See, for the Christian, the technical elements of success are the same as any other, but the core focus is not.

“Prepare for the Kingdom; not the arena.”

Preparing for the arena, instead of the Kingdom, aligns your heart with an agenda not centered on Jesus.

Obvious conflict of interest for the Christian, whose very self declaration trades in all other agendas for the singular reality of Christ.

Preparing for the arena also affects the mind. It changes how you choose things. You evaluate opportunities based upon “How can this promote me?” rather than the more critical question of “How will this complement or contradict the Holy Spirit inside of me?”

Here’s a little secret I’ve discovered… all platforms have the spirit of an agenda embedded into them. You either take authority over it, or you succumb to it. Being a consummate connoisseur of arena preparation means that you are highly trained to succumb to the spirit of the platform with a little extra flair. Like falling with style- not toystoryactually flying, but you look good going down. And like all things that fall down, there will be a crash.

A crash into low self esteem, into drugs, into lust, into poverty, into greed, into depression, into the inability to be content… on and on. There are so many crashes. Crashes that nobody is immune to, but guess what? That platform spirit you skillfully conformed to won’t be able to save you or pick you back up. There’s no life in it. Especially for the Christian creative. You’ve already been exposed to the greater spiritual realities, the deeper battles, the wonder of Heaven… and still made a contrary choice.

The only thing worse than falling with no hope of help is falling knowing you chose to leave your hope and help behind. I’m not saying that Jesus has abandoned you. Not at all. But that fall is going to hurt. And when you finally learn to fly, you’ll still encounter crash like situations, but you’ll be able to understand the difference. Flying through misery in God’s arms is infinitely better, and radically different, than jumping out of them directly into misery alone.

“Prepare for the Kingdom; not the arena.”

I said there’s no life in the platform spirit… and that’s true.

But in the Kingdom… life abounds!!

Preparing for the Kingdom equips you to be able to handle the responsibility that comes with the elevation of your ability.

Preparing for the Kingdom teaches the Christian creative that who you are on the way to your success is more important than the success itself. Because without it, the success won’t be able to be maintained and the platform spirit will drag you back down into a crash landing.

Preparing for the Kingdom fills you up with life that you don’t even realize you need, so that you have something real to pour out when you rock your platform. Something that keeps the platform spirit under submission, and keeps you protected from all the darkness fleeing away from the light you’re producing.

Preparing for the Kingdom trains you to be accustomed to what’s actually real. You learn what impact truly is. You learn to discern that fame and making a change are not the same things. Your small circle of Kingdom impact can be infinitely more effective than the millions flocking to a master of arena.

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Preparing for Kingdom also instructs you in the way of excellence. Competition is fun and a narrow vein of motivation, but mastering your skills, finances, and brand is a product of excellence. The Kingdom doesn’t require some hollow staple of mediocrity- it just prefers you to be Kingdom focused first and to be great second. Because if you’re great first and receive all of the benefits, you will be easily conned into forgetting the validity and necessity of the Kingdom.

Kingdom preparation also trains your heart to align with the agenda of Jesus. And, let’s be honest, what really is there to better occupy our heart than that?

The lessons are endless.

I encourage you, as I encourage myself, to never forget these words…

“Prepare for the Kingdom; not the arena.”

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Are you a Christian creative? Or even a creative in general? What are some of the things you’ve learned or are struggling with? I’d love to hear! 🙂

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