Opportunity in Turbulent Times

by Morris Ruddick on July 9, 2012


© Morris E. Ruddick


“Beware of those who will betray you, but know this will yield opportunity.”
Matthew 10:17-19

Throughout the word of God, we have a mandate to be blessed to be a blessing. With God as our Senior Partner, in subtle ways that defy the world’s way of life, we have become God’s opportunity brokers.
“So then, while we have opportunity, let us do good to all men, but especially to those who are of the household of faith.”
Galatians 6:10

Jesus warned those choosing to follow Him that He was sending us out as sheep among wolves and to be as wise as serpents and as harmless as doves. He went on to admonish us to be wary of those who would betray us, BUT to know that in the midst of adversity and persecution we would find opportunity.

Prophetically, we have entered strange, uncertain and fast-changing times. The serious tempo marking these times calls for something more. However, despite the need to be on our guard against the world’s enticements and traps, these are also times of opportunity. They are times bearing a unique significance for both my “Joseph Calling” and “God’s economy” messages.

In early 1996 I wrote: “A time is coming soon when there will be changes in the infrastructures of the world’s systems that will create reversals resulting in discontinuities such as the world has never seen.  In the same manner that Joseph the patriarch was sent ahead to prepare for what was coming to the earth, God is today sending individuals ahead to prepare for a time of great change that will precede the shift of all ages. These will be individuals who clearly hear God’s voice and who possess a unique understanding of the times, who will be thrust into positions of influence within the economic, governmental and business infrastructures that guide the course of world events.”

From the beginning, God’s people have been called to be a light to the world around them. God told Abraham that He would make his name great, that he would be a blessing; and that through him, those who accepted his testimony and blessed him, would in return be mightily blessed. So it was and so it will be for those who bear the Name of the Lord.

Abraham was a good steward. He demonstrated the reality of God to the world around him through an economic community with God at the center. His influence as a man of God changed the spiritual climate around him. He was a community builder who built from the bottom up.

Joseph the Patriarch on the other hand operated uniquely from within the world’s system. His stewardship and prophetic gift made room for him. Yet, despite totally different circumstance with adversity arrayed against him, he also demonstrated the reality of God. He stewarded opportunity as a most unlikely candidate, without position, from the bottom-up; to a point to when God intervened and he became a prototype of establishing God’s authority and rule from the top-down.

Joseph became a model of harnessing opportunity in turbulent times for God’s purposes, while providing a safe haven for both his benefactors and God’s people in the process. The dynamic of overriding the spiritual storm approaching the world at that time carries a parallel to the times before us and the approach needed in the face of adversity.

The Signs of the Times
Jesus strongly admonished those following him to anticipate and respond strategically to the signs of the times.
“When you see a cloud rising in the west, you say, ‘A shower is coming’; and so it is. When you see the south wind blow, you say, ‘There will be hot weather’; and there is. So, why do you discern the face of the sky and the earth, but not the times?”
Luke 12: 54-56

In understanding the times, there’s been an economic shift: the rules have changed. The US Airways flight going down into the Hudson River in January of 2009 provides a prophetic snapshot of the economic meltdown preceding this event. Miraculously, it was a soft landing, as was the meltdown. However as a precursor to our entrance into more turbulent times with unexpected crises ahead; not unlike the time in which Joseph interpreted Pharaoh’s dream, it marks this as a TIME TO PREPARE.


The Bottom-Up, Top-Down Matrix
Over the centuries, God’s matrix for opportunity through His people has included both bottom-up and top-down economic approaches. Each demonstrates His reality to the observing world and each brings change to the spiritual climate. Joseph spent many years faithfully as a community-builder before the set-times that resulted in him being handed the top-down mantle.

The calling, as was Joseph’s, to the top-down economy will involve alliances with Pharaoh-like gatekeepers during turbulent times; who serve to create the means to bypass disaster and provide refuge and provision for God’s people. With 53 of the largest 100 economies in the world being corporations, the potential for modern-day Joseph-Pharaoh alliances no doubt will extend beyond the prospect of nation-states.

The bottom-up calling entails entrepreneurial community builders, business owner administrators who serve their communities and mobilize God’s people, keeping them safe.

Cycles of Opportunity
Discerning opportunity begins with understanding the stage of the economic cycle. Just as the Bible (Genesis 8) describes the perpetual cycles in nature, such as seedtime and harvest, so there is a parallel with economic cycles. The Apostle Paul alludes to these cycles as times of abasing and times of abounding.
“I know how to be abased and I know how to abound.”
Phil 4:11

Harvest will be a time of reaping and gathering. Everything is in abundance. On the other hand, seedtime is the opposite. It is a time following winter when reserves are low, but with a sufficient amount set aside for the new planting season.

So times of abasing, as described by Paul are times of sowing. They are vulnerable times, more subject to attacks of the enemy. These are times when it is important to be content, to avoid complaining and to maintain tz’dakah generosity.

During times of abundance, it is important to avoid the bottomless pit of materialism and a consumptive lifestyle. These are times to give unique focus to the leading of the Holy Spirit in planning, as consideration is given to future turns in the cycles with prudent diversification. These are times to buy low; to look for undervalued assets. Maintaining generosity, tz’dakah and community responsibility should be an ongoing priority in both the abasing and abundance cycles. However, acting on opportunity requires wisdom on understanding the times and discerning the cycle.

Discerning the Change in the Cycle. When Jesus came walking on the water, the disciples cried out with fear. Jesus said, “It is I; do not be afraid.” Only Peter saw the change and the opportunity; and asked the Lord to confirm what he was discerning. The dynamic of Jesus walking on the water was clearly a “new thing.” Peter stepping out of the boat and moving toward Jesus on the water was triggered by Peter asking Jesus for a word of confirmation and in receiving it, him acting on it.

When the cycle shifts and change is considered, wisdom begins with determining if we see the Lord in it; and if so, by asking the Lord for a word of confirmation.

In 1977, I began discerning the Lord nudging me toward launching my own business. Without a business background, I was more than a little uncomfortable with this prospect. Yet, as I describe in my God’s Economy, Israel and Nations book, the Lord increasingly impressed upon me the importance of my taking this step of faith; and that He would be with me. In retrospect, I had no way of knowing the timing and alignment of the opportunity. The cycle for my entrance into this venture was at its optimum.

At the time, however, all I knew was that without the Lord, my probability of failure was imminent. Nevertheless, I was convinced God was in it; and He indeed was giving me strong confirmation.

So, I risked everything we had to enable this step of obedience. What followed opened the vistas to a journey, an adventure with the Lord that continues to this day. What also followed was the entrance into opportunity that never could have happened within the limitations and constraints of serving as someone else’s employee. God was thrusting me into a position of influence and making me the head and not the tail. As I navigated this pathway, the unfolding opportunity released potential that impacted not only the extent of my calling, but my clientele and our employees, my community and the Kingdom. It also began a shift in my awareness of what it meant to be an opportunity enabler.

Mind-Sets for Changing Times
The mind-sets needed for times of change must embrace a trust focused on the Lord and His economy and not on the world’s system. That entails the need for specific predispositions in our attitudes and response to several key factors.

Kingdom. Kingdom mind-sets operate with a complete dependency on the Lord and are driven by the merging of the spiritual, economic and community. Kingdom mind-sets are a paradox to the way the world employs power: We live by dying. We lead by serving. We gain by giving. Order comes from change. Wisdom comes from simplicity. In short, success is defined by humility and service.

Entrepreneurial – Increase. An entrepreneurial mind-set creatively paves the way past adversity to identify opportunity and build something of value with a purpose.

Community – Tz-dakah. A community mind-set and focus is one that serves and enables opportunity for others. As Paul admonished the Galatians to do good to all, but with priority given to the believing community; the process results in opportunity multiplying as ripples of blessings go out to the extended communities around us.

Isaiah 58. Isaiah 58 embraces God’s heart with consideration given to the poor and needy. It is at the heart of the mind-set of an opportunity-enabler. The promises of God’s blessings multiply to those operating with an Isaiah 58 heart.
f there is a poor man among your brothers, do not be hard-hearted or tight-fisted towards your poor brother.  Rather be open-handed and freely lend him whatever he needs. Give generously without a grudging heart; so the LORD will bless you in all the work of your hands.”  Deuteronomy 15: 7-11

Resource. Monetary values can experience sudden shifts. The thinking needed for changing times recognizes and anticipates the cycles and identifies the resources where tangible value will be maintained.

Hebraic – Israel. The pinnacle of change taking place in the world will be tied to developments in Israel, with the response unveiled in the Jewish roots to the faith.

Refuge Gatekeepers. Discerning modern-day Pharaohs and the opportunity for Kingdom alliances can be expected to carry increased significance in the days ahead.

Differentiating the Opportunity Enablers
At the crux of the Joseph-calling is the function of discerning and acting on opportunity during hard times. It calls for a solid maturity in the Lord, rather than the exploits of the wannabes; the arrogantly ambitious, high rollers and spiritual social climbers who are blind to the cost.

A glimpse of the dynamics of this calling begins by recognizing that Joseph operated in a religiously unorthodox context. Yet it was uniquely what the Lord chose for him.  Joseph was totally immersed in the world’s system! Despite that, his spiritual identity as God’s ambassador was clearly established. This secular alliance that brought fullness to God’s purposes was an interlinking of secular enterprises with overriding Kingdom objectives.

Today’s Josephs are trusted servant-leaders who have a clear call and mandate from the Lord; men and women who God has uniquely prepared and who KNOW HOW TO PREPARE.

These are people who are untouched and unfazed by mammon or the world’s power. They are opportunity brokers employing righteous power, whose overwhelming motivation is to serve God’s Kingdom. They are people with unusual foresight, who clearly hear God’s voice, as well as reflecting a gifting and ability to recognize opportunity and know what to do about it. It is a calling that demands much more than the expectation of being extremely talented.

The pivotal dimension differentiating Joseph from others with unique talents and abilities was something more than his sterling character; it was more than his dream interpretation or his brilliant plan. The words of Pharaoh reveal the differentiating factor:  “Can we find such a one as this, a man in whom is the Spirit of God? In as much as God has shown you all this, there is no one as wise and discerning as you are.” Genesis 41:38

Joseph’s promotion was the result of the recognition of the prophetic wisdom operating in Joseph that Pharaoh saw as coming from the Lord.

A few years ago, one of the leaders we have worked with in Asia received a unique prophetic word from a high-level prophet. He seized the opportunity. The timing was such that he would have never acted on his own. From the simple steps of obedience with his involvement with seemingly innocuous ventures has come increase. With the increase have come ripples of impact, as he has served as an opportunity enabler.

The deception operating against many with this calling has been a mind-set constrained by a focus on their own opportunity and the prospect of doing wonderful things “when their ship comes in.” This brother, on the other hand, had the maturity and faithfulness to give priority to his efforts as an opportunity enabler as the process establishing him developed. His efforts have ranged from providing scholarships to committed Christian young people, to helping establish funds to launch new entrepreneurs, to community benevolence during natural disasters.
“His lord said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things.’”
Matthew 25:21

Joseph the patriarch was a faithful steward at each level during his tenure in Egypt:  while as a slave in Potiphar’s house; then as a man entrusted with authority while a prisoner; all of which set the stage for his promotion and role along side Pharaoh.

Joseph was driven by faith, NOT fear. At each stage, he had a clear understanding of his sphere and his authority in God. At each stage, he identified and maximized opportunity.

The Pathway to Opportunity
During turbulent times, the pathway to opportunity begins with a heightened awareness of the snares that need to be avoided. Difficult times will mar the distinction between viable trends and fads. During great change it will be prudent to avoid premature steps and any type of frenzied need to act or to force issues; to “make something happen.” Special care should be given to avoid superficial illusions from the media and pop culture. More than ever, times of change demand quieting our hearts before the Lord and gleaning His guidance with greater clarity.

Times of uncertainty need to give greater discernment to the difference between the supernatural that comes from God and that which amounts to magic and the weird. It also means avoiding the traps of business-as-usual, blind loyalty and the deceptions of conforming to political correctness. Above all, is the need to guard against getting entrapped by chasing money. Deuteronomy 28 emphasizes that: “All these blessings shall come upon us and overtake us when we are listening to the voice of the Lord.” Money is not the objective, it’s the byproduct.

The point is that the pathway to opportunity during times of discontinuity will be through a genuine Holy Spirit partnership. It will be marked by the mantle of Abraham as we serve as opportunity enablers. Opportunity extended operates as a catalyst to releasing opportunity.

The pathway of opportunity is a pathway that taps into power, but not as the world understands power, but with the righteous power that operates through God in community. It is the power described by 1 Peter 2:15 that “By your good works, you’ll put to silence the ignorance of foolish men.”

It is the power of influence. Not to be confused with clever manipulation, influence builds, brings increase and releases others into the blessings of God. It is the power that operates through simplicity in God’s economy; as we produce more with less. It is the power that defines your sphere or boundaries of authority described in 2 Corinthians 10:13: “As their faith grows [those you’re enabling], so you will be within your sphere enlarged even more.”

Enabling opportunity, while navigating turbulence, is a potent leadership pathway with results that implant God’s Kingdom rule. It pivots on making God your Senior Partner and entering the flow of His guidance. It involves an Isaiah 58 heart that extends itself to maximizing your combined gifts and anointing, as you are blessed to be a blessing. It involves paying the cost of acquiring the authority and anointing to match the calling. All of which combine to embracing the distinction of your Kingdom citizenship.

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