8 Reasons for Leaders to Give God a Blank Check

I have heard the same message from several voices over the past few years. “What we must do,” they have said in different contexts, “is give God a blank check. Give Him the check, and let Him fill in the blanks.”

I have been a follower of Jesus for a long time, but the “blank check” image is still stretching me. In fact, few exhortations have been as thought provoking to me. Below are eight reasons why the “blank check” call is both necessary and challenging for me as I strive to be a leader in God’s work. Perhaps the image will likewise challenge you.

  1. It forces me to recognize the idolatry of my comfort. If I’m honest, I can easily get comfortable where I am. The routine may be monotonous at times, but it’s safe . . . convenient . . . familiar . . . reassuring. If I agree to follow God but only within my comfort zone, though, my ease has become my idol.
  2. It requires me to evaluate how deeply my faith affects my daily living. Do I, for example, really believe my life is not my own? If I have given my life to Jesus, my yesterdays are forgiven, my todays rest in His hands, and my tomorrows are entirely His. The blank check about tomorrow should not alarm me today if I trust that God is holy, loving, and sovereign.
  3. It reminds me that the Christian life really is about faith. Living by faith means trusting God as He unrolls the scroll of our lives. We follow Him obediently each day, not knowing what each further roll – that is, the blank check – will bring, yet believing the fully unrolled scroll will reflect His glory and wisdom.
  4. It reinforces the truth that God’s plan might be costly for me. God alone has the right to fill in the blank check. He may use us to conquer kingdoms . . . or He may send us to persecution and death (Heb. 11:32-38). I proclaim this reality, but seldom do I deeply consider the truth that death could fill the line on my blank check. That thought is, to be honest, almost too heavy to ponder.
  5. It calls me to ask if I truly believe God is all-wise. It’s easy to preach about His wisdom in the relative safety of my North American seminary classroom or local church pulpit. I don’t know if it would be as easy, however, if His calling were to require moving my family to a center of Islam . . . or leaving a mega-church to plant an urban congregation . . . or downsizing to provide more dollars for His work . . . or suffering in the midst of telling the gospel.
  6. It prompts me to consider my burden over the lostness of the world and the reality of hell. Many of my friends and colleagues are driven by a theological urgency to get the good news to people who do not know Jesus. My level of willingness to give God a blank check may well be a reflection of whether I share that urgency. Frankly, that assessment stings a bit.
  7. It fractures any belief that I am Christ-like. Jesus, of course, knew what obedience to the Father would cost Him. With “cross” written on the check, Jesus said, “not My will, but Yours, be done” (Luke 22:42). Until I am willing to have the ultimate cost written on my blank check so others might be saved, I do not yet fully reflect the heart of Christ.
  8. It drives me to deep self-reflection. No matter how long I have been a Jesus follower, I still need Holy Spirit-led personal reflection in the light of God’s Word. I need men of God who challenge me to a level of holy discomfort, who unreservedly call me to give God a blank check.

I have a long way to go. Please pray for me.

photo credit: iancorey via photopin cc

20 Comments

  • Bob says:

    As I contemplate leaving my church today, this in not what I wanted to hear. But probably what I need to hear. Always a challenging concept. Pray for me, too!

    • Chuck Lawless says:

      Bob,
      I don’t know your situation, but I just prayed that God will help you understand what the blank check means for you. CL

  • Dei Chung says:

    I know the focus audience for your blog is church leaders, but I read it too, and take all to heart. So I must ask of this one… Just leaders? Or all of us who claim to love God? I believe this challenge is for all believers. Take up our cross. Follow Him wherever He leads. Fight the battles to make His Church what it should be. Lay down our lives.

    As a former member of the military, I wrote that check for our country. Why would I not do it for the One I ultimately serve? The One who knew the cost before entering this world for us- the lost and fallen?

    Challenging? Yes. For all of us. For me, especially.

  • Peter Mahoney says:

    Dr. Lawless,

    I am encouraged and challenged by your transparency. As a lead pastor, this is something I have been “talking up” to my staff and then collectively communicating to our people. Where I have been challenged is that living out the “blank check” is a constantly moving target and not a one time achievement. Many of us in the SBC (and probably most evangelicals) like to check our boxes and say “I did that”. But, if I am truly living out what it means to live a life characterized by repentance and faith, which is embodied by denying self and dying to self daily, then this is probably something I have to be surrendered to, not just daily, but in the moment.

    When we get to a place where any of us are saying “this is no longer a struggle”, we’re most definitely not where we need be.

    • Chuck Lawless says:

      Good thoughts, Peter. This challenge, in fact, is a constant reminder that believers are “strangers in a foreign land.” Giving God a blank check means we really are pilgrims here, following Him wherever He calls.

  • Brandon says:

    I’m not entirely sure about the “Blank Check” thing. 1 Thes 2:9 For you remember, brothers, our labor and toil: we worked night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you, while we proclaimed to you the gospel of God.

    Also we believe that Jesus had a trade as a carpenter (Mat 13:55; Mar 6:3). Some people can argue that it’s not living on faith however, living off of the incomes of other people isn’t entirely living on faith either.

    There was a pastor up in Alaska to a church I went to. He was by skill a retired oil worker. He did not need anything from anyone but he faithfully served the Lord and he had the skills and ability to help almost anyone out in need. He was a highly respected individual. I find many young pastors, full of knowledge but lacking in life experience, or the ability to feed themselves without help from others.

    In other places around the world there are pastors working full time jobs on top of being a full time pastor. America seems to be one of the few places people can get by with being called a full time pastor and making a decent paycheck from the flock.

    I’m not saying all full time pastors are bad because there are some who actually are doing the Lords work to their fullest. It’s just that I believe many fail at being self motivated to get out there and be doing the Lords work.

    I’m also thinking about Acts, how they had all things in common. This idea of helping one another out. So if I am a wealthy christian brother, I have the ability to help my poorer Christian brother out. Either way we as Christians should be building up skills as a way to glorify God as well benefit each other as a body.

    Oh well, My two cents…

  • Louise says:

    Doesn’t “giving” God a blank check wrongly suggest that we own the checkbook?

    • Chuck Lawless says:

      Thanks, Louise. I suppose the image could be taken that way, but the metaphor is intended to mean exactly the opposite. Instead, it is a call to recognize that everything is God’s.

  • Pastor says:

    Dr. Lawless,
    Thank you for writing this and sharing it. This is one of the most challenging and thought provoking blogs I have read. I have been thinking about this subject for the past few days. Am I willing to be totally sold out to Jesus no matter the cost or the amount of the check (to use this metaphor)? I am a Pastor and in the past few months, I have been attacked personally concerning my Christian walk…one attack justified I guess because I needed the humility check and the others totally unjustified. I keep coming to this point of Jesus and how he lived. The constant challenege is to be more like him. And I have come to the same conclusion through prayer and talking to God constantly…I have a long way to go. I need help on this journey. The comfort is I am not alone because Jesus walked this path way before I did. Thanks again for the words and transparency.

  • Jeff Johnson says:

    Dr. Lawless,

    This is a stretch for me as well, I’ll pray for you too! Hope all is well at Southeastern Seminary you were a great help at Boyce and Southern for me this is still very helpful too may the Lord apply it to my heart!

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