By Scott Hilgendorff / Cowboy of the Cross
Standing in a barn outside the arena set up to be a practice pen for bull riders leading cowboy church, I would have never imagined that was where my life was going to take me.
I had different dreams of working my way up the corporate ladder driven not so much by a job I loved but almost seven weeks of vacation and the possibility of a six-figure income—not a move into ministry that meant living part time in my van in a church parking lot.
But when we start following God instead of ourselves, our dreams and goals sometimes change.
We often have this idea that what we want is what God will give us but we forget that when we follow God, our heart changes and what we desire changes. Romans offers a lot of teaching about salvation and the changes we encounter when we become a Christian.
Romans 13:13-14 Let us behave decently, as in the daytime, not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and debauchery, not in dissension and jealousy. 14 Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the flesh.
Instead of pursuing our normal, sinful natures, we begin to pursue Jesus and recognize that God calls us to a life meant to glorify Him. Paul shows us in 2 Corinthians that we’re made new in Christ through our salvation—that we become a new person that no longer lives for ourselves but for Jesus.
2 Corinthians 5:15 And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.
As we start to live for God and not ourselves, we start to realize that even when circumstances don’t go our way, God is at work. We recognize that regardless of our own plans, even what feels bad to us, will work out toward God’s purpose. Even what feels like a failure or loss for us, will bring a chance to honor and glorify God.
Romans 8:28 And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.
We trust that we are a part of His plan, working toward His purpose.
For some, that can mean success in the rodeo or bull riding arena where God can be glorified through your success and the attention it brings Him. For others, it could mean their entire life shifting. I was working behind the scenes helping with rodeo marketing and working as rodeo photographer part time while pursuing a bigger income in a giant media company. As I let my life be changed by my relationship with Jesus, my focus changed and I began working in ministry as well, helping others with cowboy church and eventually taking on managing Cowboys of the Cross. That became the focus of my life, directed by God, and my goals and dreams changed.
Psalm 119:105 Your word is a lamp to my feet And a light to my path.
It’s through God’s word that we can begin to discover the direction He has for us. As we allow ourselves to be changed by what we read and learn in Scripture, what we value and pursue can change as God directs our steps.
That’s how finding myself standing in a barn leading cowboy church on a Sunday afternoon in May can be a dream come true.