You’ve prayed and sought counsel, strategized and planned. Things might roll out exactly as expected. But let’s face it, that doesn’t happen often. Sometimes the response is better than you hoped for and sometimes you flop. Other times, the result is completely out of left field. When the unexpected happens it’s normal to feel overwhelmed and excited, unsure and even afraid.

A Natural Response to the Unexpected

An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. —Luke 2:9

The Christmas story reminds us that when God does something new and unexpected it can be downright terrifying. 

Without the accompaniment of a heavenly host, God will speak timely truth through an unexpected source. The Holy Spirit will take you in a different direction than planned. Life will be interrupted with small opportunities—or possibly even tragedies—that God might use to birth movements. It’s happened before. The unexpected is an expected part of the Christian faith.

When everything goes according to plan things are great. When faced with leading people into the unknown it’s tempting to look away and return to the comfort zone. Thankfully, scripture offers us another way.

Preparing for the Unexpected

Time and again scripture tells us that it’s okay to reserve judgment until you know for sure. The shepherd’s response was to go and see the newborn Christ. Thomas was encouraged to touch the wounds that proved the risen Jesus was who he seemed to be. The Bereans listened to Paul and then searched the scriptures for themselves and were praised as noble for doing so.

Although it can be unsettling when the unexpected happens, there is room to test it and make sure it is from the Holy Spirit.  


This year, God did some unexpected things in your life, in the lives of those around you, and in your ministry. 

  • What was your initial response? 
  • How did you confirm God was in it? 
  • What adjustments did you make?
  • How did you come alongside others to walk with them through the unexpected?

Expect the Unexpected

One thing is for sure… God will again move in mysterious ways in 2024. Planning for ministry is a balancing act of parables and proverbs. Just like the servants in the Parable of the Talents, you have been asked to multiply that which has been entrusted to you by God. That takes strategy and planning. On the other hand, Proverbs 19:21 reminds you to hold those plans lightly, “Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails”. 

For this posture to make its way into the DNA of your organization, it needs to be modeled, taught, and caught. It needs to be talked about on the way and periodically brought back to mind so we don’t forget.

  • In what ways can you prepare your heart and mind for the unexpected? 
  • How will you prepare those you are leading to respond with faith and obedience? 
  • How are you teaching them to be expectant? 


An Undivided Heart*- “An Undivided Heart” interrogates our siloed approach to spiritual formation and seeks to inspire us to actively live and love like Jesus in a more integrated manner. After all, Jesus came that we might access this life that is truly life, his “life to the full.”  Why would we settle for some diminished or disintegrated version of the real thing?” —Dennis Bachman, Executive Director and Lead Pastor of ViaCordis

Photo by Vidar Nordli-Mathisen on Unsplash

*Amazon affiliate link