Leading from the Overflow: Is Your Cup Full?
I’ve been preoccupied with water wells lately.
Linda and I bought 11 beautiful acres just north of Spokane upon which we plan to build our ‘empty nesters’ house. Our latest challenge is the well. Most neighbors have low flow wells that run at only 1-3 gpm (gallons per minute) and our plans require 5 gpm at the least. After nearly a year of house planning, the big moment arrived. Knowing that every foot of drilling represented no small amount of money, (you literally watch your money go down a hole), we agreed that 400 feet is all the further we could go. So we prayed for 5 pgm by the time we reached 400 feet. Last Monday the drilling rig kicked into gear, and we prayed and waited. I recited texts on trusting God and being anxious for nothing.
The first day of drilling ended with somber news; 300 feet and only 1-2 gpm. All we could do was press on and trust. On day two we would go to 400 feet, and then take a long deep breath and make some hard decisions. The morning of day two saw the same results, the next 50 feet brought a little more water but far short of what we needed.
Only 50 feet left, here we go.
We waited, watched and prayed some more…and the water began to flow! It went from promising to prodigious to…overflowing. By the time we reached 400 feet, we had a solid 12 gallons per minute. Excited, relieved, joyful and a little stunned, we praised God who provided all that we needed, “pressed down, shaken together and overflowing.” ( Luke 6:38)
Scripture uses ‘overflowing’ to express the abundance of God and His lavish provision for us. It also denotes our generous response. Here are a few examples.
God’s bounteous provision:
Psalm 65:11 – You crown the year with your bounty, and your carts overflow with abundance.
Psalm 65:12 – The grasslands of the wilderness overflow; the hills are clothed with gladness.
Proverbs 3:10 – then your barns will be filled to overflowing, and your vats will brim over with new wine.
Psalm 23: – You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.
Zechariah 1:17 – “Proclaim further: This is what the Lord Almighty says: ‘My towns will again overflow with prosperity, and the Lord will again comfort Zion and choose Jerusalem.’”
Romans 5:15 – But the gift is not like the trespass. For if the many died by the trespass of the one man, how much more did God’s grace and the gift that came by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, overflow to the many!
Our bounteous response:
Romans 15:13 – May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Psalm 119:171 – May my lips overflow with praise, for you teach me your decrees.
2 Corinthians 4:15 – All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God.
2 Corinthians 8:2 – In the midst of a very severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity.
2 Corinthians 9:12 – This service that you perform is not only supplying the needs of the Lord’s people but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God.
Colossians 2:7 – rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.
1 Thessalonians 3:12 – May the Lord make your love increase and overflow for each other and for everyone else, just as ours does for you.
Overflow means there is more than enough, more than can be held in vessels, more than can be contained. Overflow is a sign of lavish provision, abundance and unbridled blessing. At times it almost seems wasteful, but the intent is to illustrate a limitless supply of God’s goodness and our generous and bountiful response. As Jesus admonished, “freely you have received, freely give.” (Matthew 10:8)
As steward leaders, our lives and our leadership are meant to reflect the God who overflows His goodness to us. How does that work? Imagine your life as a cup. When its empty, it creates in us a spirit of need and scarcity. When its full, it produces a heart of abundance, generosity and joy. We all want to live with our cups full. God’s vision for the abundant life is expressed as a cup that overflows. (Psalm 23)
We fill our cups by spending time with Jesus, and Jesus intends that the first place, the primary place we are to spend time with Him is in the work place. From a full cup, an overflowing cup, we are able to engage the rest of life by giving away, filling other people up and splashing abundance everywhere we go. When we are able to return home from work each day with a full cup, imagine what great impact that has on our spouse, our children, our community and our church? With a full cup we are set free to love and care for all those around us – our family, our neighbor and our world.
On the other hand, our cups are drained empty when we become too busy to abide in the presence of our loving cup-filler. Relying on our own strength, we lose our connection with the God who overflows, and we start to dry up. When we return home with an empty cup, drained dry by work that is not connected with the Kingdom, we have nothing to give, no overflow to share. Even worse, we become the one who depends on the overflow of others; we put our own needs first and become ‘takers’ through every relationship. There is much at stake as to whether our work fills our cup or drains it.
Are you living and leading in a life-giving way, drawing deeply from your cup that overflows? Such a life requires us to remain in God’s presence, abiding in Him and trusting Him to provide all that we need. Steward leaders lead from a full cup because they understand that it is in our work, in partnering with Jesus and viewing work from a kingdom perspective, that our workplace becomes the place where our cups are filled not just to the brim, but…12 gallons per minute overflowing!