Leaders: Don’t Expect God To Do What You Won’t Do

I know, the title sounds unspiritual doesn’t it? “Don’t expect God to do what you won’t do.” Aren’t we supposed to wait on God expectantly? (Psalm 25:5)

As a leader and as a parent I am reminded that not everything is accomplished by prayer. I know, sounds unspiritual again, but I can pray until I am red in the face that my lawn gets mowed but until I get out of the house and behind a lawn mower, it’s not going to get done. I can pray that my budget at work comes together but until I pull out my computer and do a little planning it just won’t come together.

How about situation where we really need God to show up? Our marriages, our soul care, our parenting? I wonder how many times I have continued to beg God for something when the reality was that it was going to take a little work on my part. Sure, I have experienced some water to wine, blind to seeing miracles in my life but most of the time the miracles in my life have been “time delayed” because I needed to put forth some effort to see the results.

The Lazarus Experience

Jesus provided the power to raise Lazarus from death, but Lazarus still had to walk out. Tiny step by tiny step, bandaged, bruised and bewildered, he had to walk out of a tomb that had the smell of death. I'm sure it wasn't easy for him to shuffle out the way he did. I can relate a bit to Lazarus, can you?

Question: What if Lazarus stayed in the tomb?
Question: What do you need to walk walk out of today to become fully alive?

The Joshua Experience

Joshua was given specific river crossing directions from God. He told the children of Israel to watch for the Levitical priests carrying the Ark of the Covenant to step into the Jordan river. Once they saw the priests start moving they were to follow. The priests were told that as soon as their feet touched the water, the flow of water would be cut and the river will stand up like a wall (Joshua 3:11). Feels a little nerve racking to me. I would prefer the water stopped before I stepped into the river.

Question: What would have happened if the priests didn’t step into the river?
Question: What do you need to walk into today to make the river of difficulty stop?

Don’t use prayer for procrastination. I have done that. I still do that. I have experienced days, weeks, months when I felt like it was impossible to take a step let alone two. It was easier to pray about it and do nothing. Like Lazarus walking out of the tomb I would loose my equilibrium, both spiritual and emotional, and I assumed that I would end up facedown, bound, unable to move. It was easier to pray than to go to counseling.

  • The good news is God provided the power and Lazarus walked out of death in to life.
  • The good news is God provided the power and the children of Israel walked out of their past into their future.

God brings life from death, resurrection from ruin, but occasionally each of us must put in some hard work. The work that causes us to walk out of the tomb or into the river. Life is full of revolving door choices. God rewards those who diligently seek Him and, on occasion, we must seek Him with our hands and feet.

I am reminded of Exodus 14:15 when the Lord said to Moses, “Why are you crying out to me? Tell the people to get moving!” I guess the modern day translation could be, “Don’t expect Me to do what you won’t do, get moving!” Today is our day to get moving. I am with you.


1. Do you need a Lazarus experience?
What do you need to walk walk out of today to become fully alive?

2. Do you need a Joshua experience?
What do you need to walk into today to make the river of difficulty stop?