“You’re like a chess piece that God has moved around the board.”
What was I supposed to make of that comment as I interviewed for a middle school pastor role in my forties?
Rewind many years. In the Lord’s sovereign grace toward me, he has disrupted my plans and my ambitions at many points in my life. To say that my vocational pathway has been like taking the scenic route is a huge understatement. However, when I landed the middle school pastor job after that interview, I could clearly see how God used my unconventional career pathway to move me toward vocational ministry in mid-life.
The interviewer who made the chess remark was our high school pastor at the time who hired and mentored me in ministry. Since then, the Lord has moved both of us to different squares on the board — but I’ve never forgotten his chess comment or my response in that moment:
“So what you’re really saying is that I’m just a pawn!”
In 2 Corinthians 4, Paul reminds us that, “we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us.” A clay pot seems weak and vulnerable—so does a chess pawn. But God has chosen to display “the light of the knowledge of the glory of God” through his followers as weak and vulnerable pots—and pawns.
I’m not a chess fanatic. I learned to play as a school age kid, but I haven’t played a game in decades. So, I did a little research online and uncovered how critical pawns are to winning at chess. In his post, author Giovanni Di Luca states, “The idea that pawns are weak because of their constrained movement is completely inaccurate. Together, pawns form an army, and their strength is in numbers and formations. They are absolutely vital to the defense of the most important chess piece, the king!”
I know Giovanni is not quoting Scripture—and analogies only go so far—but as I read his blog, I wanted to shout, “Amen! Yes, Lord! I am weak—but you are strong! You are the Chess Master and I desire to be your pawn! Move me where you will use me to advance your kingdom!”
Perhaps you’ve been moved to different squares all over the board like me. Perhaps you’ve faithfully served on the same square for the entire game. Perhaps you’re just about to be moved to a different square. For many years, I struggled to understand why my pathway looked so different than many others around me. Then God blessed me with a deep sense of peace and contentment in life and ministry when he helped me understand how I could accept and rest in a “pawn perspective” that the Grand Chess Master, our sovereign God, ordains every move in our lives for his purposes and for his plan.
We can find contentment in a pawn perspective by constantly reminding ourselves that…
- No move can happen in my life that God has not planned and ordained.
- God will prepare and equip me for where he chooses to move me—and rarely the other way around.
- God is never surprised by any moves—whether his or the enemy’s.
- The purpose of God’s next move in my life may not be revealed to me until later—perhaps not until the game-ending final move.
- Every move in my life is part of God’s grand design of redemption—and His victory has already been determined!
So, God — what’s your next move?