In most of those initial encounters, I stumbled over myself as I reacted as most of us would when we run into a "celebrity" - you try to act calm, you try to make a connection by telling them all about your own amazing story (because of course, you're cool too), and finally, you have to make sure to get a picture with the person as evidence of your new "friend" for your social media accounts.
But these types of interactions have typically been met with a lukewarm reception at best. We forget that well-known people have these kinds of encounters all the time. Most people use these chance meetings for their benefit, and public figures are experienced enough (and smart enough) to know it. So when these opportunities arise, and we feel God is leading us into an important connection, how can we take advantage of what God has brought together in the right way?
One well-known leader with a global ministry did take the time to meet with me for coffee recently, and we discussed this very topic. He used a story about a friend who met Bono, who most would know from the band U2, to illustrate his point. The friend was with another person at a pub in Ireland, and they saw Bono hanging out at the pub with his entourage. The man bet his friend that he could get an audience with Bono, to which the friend took him up on it. The man then proceeded to buy a round of drinks for everyone at the pub, and toasted Bono, "The AIDS activist and humanitarian." Sure enough, a member of Bono's entourage invited the man to meet Bono.
The key to getting an audience with Bono was that the man made an effort to connect with what was most important to Bono. The man didn't mention the band U2 that had made Bono famous, or do something that would appear to be self-serving or self-motivated. That probably happens all the time with Bono, and it's a turn off. Regardless of whether someone is famous or not, connections happen when the person you seek to connect with sees your desire for mutual benefit, an interest in a common cause, or just a desire to get to know someone better for who they are and what motivates them, not just what they can do for you. And it's usually pretty obvious when those intentions aren't there.
As I stepped into my car reflecting on this story, God hit me with an even bigger revelation - that's how He feels about our desire to connect with Him. God is looking for relationships with people who are after His heart, not what He can do for them. All too often our time with Him is focused on what we need or want. When was the last time you asked God during your prayer time, "Who or what is on your mind and heart today, Father? How can I bless You and your Kingdom today? Who do you want me to pray for, or show love to today?"
So ask yourself, why are you seeking a connection with God? Is it to gain eternal life and avoid hell? Is it because of the promise of prosperity and other blessings if you just follow Him? Is it to be healed of sickness and disease? Or are you motivated to be significant in the Kingdom - by having spiritual gifts, leading worship at your church, or having a big church following?
All of these motivations are wrong. While you may have good intentions, the benefits of a relationship with God are a byproduct of the love of God, and the fruits of a Kingdom walk, but they should not be the motivation for making the Ultimate Connection. That connection comes from a surrender to the One who deserves such surrender, from pursuing a relationship with your Creator because you want to love Him as much as He loves you. It comes when you desire intimacy with your Father, and have a desire to move His heart as much as He desires to move yours. Just being in His presence is the best gift you can receive, and should be your greatest desire.
Make today the day you shift your mindset and approach to your relationship with God. Because who or what you seek first drives everything else in your life, and in your journey with God, the Ultimate Connection.
"And you, Solomon my son, get to know well your father's God; serve him with a whole heart and eager mind, for God examines every heart and sees through every motive. If you seek him, he'll make sure you find him, but if you abandon him, he'll leave you for good. Look sharp now! God has chosen you to build his holy house. Be brave, determined! And do it!" - 1 Chronicles 28:9-10
- Adam Gellert