Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Missions Mentality

A friend of mine went on a missions trip to Mexico last week. We met the day before she left to pray and I promised her I’d be praying for her every day while she was gone. It was one of those things that pop out of your mouth without much thought…”I’ll be praying for you.” And most of the time that is as far as it goes. But not this time. As I walked to my car, I realized I’d made a promise…and that the Lord wouldn’t have led me to speak those words if it weren’t important that I make good on that promise. So I did. As I thought about and prayed about the trip, I yearned to be there…to see the fruit of prayer…the power of His spirit moving and working in the town they were ministering to. I also had a deep sense of the futility of the life I live.

I’ve said this before, and been criticized for it, that my life really doesn’t start until 5:30pm…that is when I “punch out” at work most days. Everything that means anything to me takes place after that…or rather HAS to take place after that. Not that the Lord does not intend for me to sow seeds or be a light here at work…or that there isn’t a real possibility that he has me here to win a specific person…but, essentially, what I do makes a rich man richer. It is how the Lord has chosen to provide for me at this time…but is it worth it when 75% of my time is spent on things with little or no apparent spiritual or eternal significance?

That may not be the best way to think about my job…but, if that is the case…if it is only a means for me to pay my student loans and put food in my belly…then why am I doing this? Should I re-think things, re-order my priorities, and seek out a way to better spend my time?

I didn’t speak any of this to anyone…I thought maybe it was just a “grass is always greener on the other side” moment. But then, I talked to another friend whose husband had just returned from the same missions trip. They had spent a good deal of time talking about something similar…the futility…and wondering why people couldn’t be the way they are…live the way they do…see as much of God here as they do in Mexico.

I’d been thinking about that too.

Whenever people come back from a missions trip, there are always amazing stories, stories of Acts come to life. It just seems worship is richer, quiet time more meaningful, the spirit of God more tangible. It can’t be that God has changed…so it must be the people that are different somehow. But what is it? Is it just a change of scene and society…or simply that going away makes the noise of life less noisy and so they are better able to hear and respond? Could be…I’ve seen similar things happen on retreat weekends, and experienced it myself. But, there has to be something more to it than location.

What I think it is…and my friend seemed to agree…was that people are living more like the way the Lord intended: living, breathing, eating, drinking Jesus Christ and Him crucified. Every moment of every day is about serving and pleasing Him and knowing more of Him. Whether it is building a school or caring for orphans or coordinating the team or going out into the city to reach the lost…it is all about the Lord and His purposes.

I can’t say that that is the mindset I have here at work every day.

But I should.

My friend suggested that perhaps we need to live more simply, get a job with less hours and devote our time more to serving the church. And that is something I do intend to pray about…I feel I have to given all the Lord has laid on my heart. But I don’t think that I need to wait until I am living in a house with 5 other ladies and working part-time to do what it is I am called to do…to be who it is I am called to be. The requirements don’t change. My circumstances might make it harder or easier for me to live the way I am called to live. I may have to fight harder to do all for the sake of the gospel in this office than I would if I were working 20hrs a week at a coffee shop and devoting the rest of my time to ministry…but I am still called to it none-the-less.

What is “it” exactly? To live, breathe, eat, drink…do all things for Christ, because of Christ and so that Christ will be magnified and glorified before men. To make him the priority…not praise, or job security or creature comforts. And, to be willing to sacrifice said things for the sake of the gospel, when the Lord calls me to do so. I should be willing to give my last $5 to someone in need and go without myself. I should be willing to forsake my personal alone time to minister to someone. I should be willing to simplify my life so that I am in a better position to bless others.

I should have a missions mentality right here…right now.

And, I don’t.

Is that the end? Certainly not. Though the thought of quitting my job and stepping out in faith into “whatever” and living in a way I never have before makes my breath catch in my throat. And, it may be a step I am not called upon to take…but I want to at least be willing to be made willing if that is His will. I also don’t want to wait for some radical change in the circumstances of my life or the next retreat to get the right heart attitude about life or experience more of the Lord. I want that now…and I believe I can have it now…in this job…in my same apartment…with my same “responsibilities.” And if I can’t…well, I know the Lord will prepare my heart and get me there.


  1. I don't have an answer to your questions...but I do have some perspective. Fact is routine...and can even be a bit matter who you are OR where you are in it. Before Jesus began His ministry...the Bible tells us very little of Him. But in my own imagination...I believe He was a carpentar who performed with excellence. Day in and day out...sun up to sun down...a carpentar. Building the same things over and over...serving in His home...showing kindness and integrity to those who bought the fruits of His labor. There was not a whole lot of "spiritual" stuff going on as he sawed and hammered away tables and chairs...but He did it. The same Lord who could SPEAK the world into existance, labored with His hands to build furniture for the children of Israel. Humbling...isn't it? And so, when I'm having one of those days, when the housework doesn't feel "spiritual" and the job doesn't feel like a just feels like a job...I try to remember the words of Mother Teresa of Calcutta..."We can do no great things...only small things with great love." When we perform every small, minial task out of love for Christ...we are being ministers of the Gospel in the place that God has us at that time. When I think about Joseph, I'm sure each task he performed as a slave was not something he would have chosen for himself...but apparently, he worked with integrity and excellence and was given favor above others. God blessed him and turned seemingly hopeless circumstances into salvation for the children of Israel. With that perspective, it appears to me, that when we work with excellence and integrity in front of matter where we will bring salvation to the lost around us.

  2. to offer further perspective I say that when God called us to all nations that it is to our benefit that we go. _We_ get renewed, _we_ see God working the entire time we are there, _we_ get excited about be Christians again.

  3. Hi Aaron...thanks stopping by and for the input.

    Just curious though, since I don't really know any Aaron' did you get here?

  4. To Aaron: I agree...but sometimes we are not called to go...we are called to stay...and be missions minded right where God has placed us.