myMISSION

Learning to Cook

Cooking was something I grew into, if that’s how we should term it.

I thought I really liked to cook when was growing up, but when I ventured out into the world and met women who could take a pinch of flour and turn it into a masterpiece, I realized maybe I wasn’t that gifted. Ask me to cook a savory dish, I am there. But, oh you have a local bake sale coming up? And I am struggling to figure out what would be appropriate.

In my cold, yet cozy home in the Middle East, my favorite holiday was on the horizon: Christmas. I had moved into this apartment and I knew I had neighbors but honestly I never saw them. My local transportation was taxi cabs, so I was constantly walking the floors to exit the front door, while my neighbors used the elevator to go to the garage and leave in their vehicles. Oh the elevator, a way to never see people.

Working on Vacation

Last year I spent my spring break on the beaches of Naples, Florida, enjoying the sunny, 75 degree weather with my friends. While this vacation gave me a break from college, God showed me that I am never “on break” from the work of His Kingdom.

One morning I was jogging down the beach by myself, listening to my favorite music playlist. The beach was mostly empty, but I noticed two young women who were doing yoga. I had never taken a yoga class, and I had heard mixed opinions about whether or not it had a religious aspect.

As I jogged past the women, I felt the Holy Spirit tugging at my heart. Yoga could be a great conversation started to bring up Jesus, I suddenly thought. But why would I talk to random people on the beach? What if they think I’m stuck-up? What if we never even get to the subject of Christianity?

I asked God to shut down these excuses as I turned around and walked back towards the women. They were rolling up their yoga mats when I approached them.

“Hi,” I said, “Are you doing yoga?”

How dumb! I immediately thought to myself. Of course they’re doing yoga. They’ll think I’m crazy!

Obedience and Mistakes

During our apprentice term with our missions organization, one of the things required was to share a Creation to Christ story in the heart language of our people . . . from memory. Sigh. I was seven months pregnant with our second child when this requirement needed to be fulfilled and while pregnancy brain may have been my excuse, I'm not sure how much easier it would have been otherwise.

To say that I struggled with this assignment would be putting it mildly. I had spent two years studying the language and still had difficulties with it daily. I knew who the Lord wanted me to share this set of stories with, but I was anxious. Roxanne was a friend who was a nonbeliever and I was convinced that if I messed this up, she was never going to want to accept Christ. Selfish? Prideful? Yes, to say the least but it was (however sadly) my mindset.

Trust and Obey

There is a hymn that I remember singing in church . . . “Trust and obey for there’s no other way to be happy in Jesus, than to trust and obey.” Seems simple enough, right? Have you ever been a part of a team building exercise and had to do the “trust game”? This is where two people are standing, facing the same direction. The person in front is to fall back into the person’s arms behind her, the “catch” is that the person behind has taken a step or two away from that individual and her “fall” is a bit further down than anticipated. The goal is to teach trust.

I can be honest and say I always take a step back into the person who is supposed to catch me. Many times you don’t know the person very well with whom you are participating in the activity, which in turn makes it difficult to trust her.

Break Time

Dragging my feet down the musty, fluorescent lit hallway, I walk outside for my 15-minute morning break. In these windows of freedom I always scramble out of my cubicle to the fresh air to remember the world outside of my enclosed cave I spend 7.5 hours a day in.

As I walk up the road, praising God the snow has melted and not too many cars are passing on the street for a moment of reprieve in the noise. I ask Him to bring joy to my heart for my work and pray over the day.

This sidewalk has heard so many of my prayers to God. When in a really difficult season this fall I wanted so badly to put in my two weeks’ notice and march right out the door to my other, better opportunities I convinced myself were out there. The pond and the trees heard me ask God if I could quit.

The answer?

“No.”

Because it wasn’t time. He had spoken that so clearly; I needed to stay here. He had called me to this moment in time for a reason. For the co-workers I share life with, for the conversations I have with people all over the world. His work was not done.

What If the Sunday School Answer Is True?

Last August, I moved back to college early for a week of training for a leadership organization I was a part of. I had the opportunity to get to know students who I would work with for the upcoming school year, and I wanted to make a good first impression.

One of our meetings focused on motivation. We ended up breaking off into pairs to discuss our individual source of inspiration and purpose.

I immediately knew my answer: Christ is my source of motivation. However, did that sound like a cop-out? I was afraid that my partner would look at me like I just stepped out of Sunday School. It was my first chance to get to know this group, and I didn’t want to be labeled as the goody-goody church girl.

Despite these excuses running through my head, I knew in my heart that I needed to share the truth. God is my purpose, my life, and the reason that I live the way I do. He calls us to preach Christ and His gospel, even if people view us as weak or unintellectual.

Building a Philosophy

Let’s talk some more about our role as myMISSION leaders.

Here are some questions to help you decide how you will lead and what kind of leader you want to become. This would make for a good journaling activity. Think about each question and journal your answers so that you can come back in a few months and evaluate how you are doing.

Sharing Among Differences

While my husband was in seminary, I taught fourth grade and the Lord began to show me that I wasn't there simply for the children. He brought a woman into my life that needed to hear of His love. I can remember thinking how easy it would be to build a relationship with her and just tell her everything I knew about Jesus. I envisioned her accepting Christ and coming to church with me for the rest of the year.

However, it didn't quite turn out that way. I didn't realize it at first but quickly came to the conclusion that I had never shared my faith with an adult before. I shared with children as a child and as an adult but never someone older than me. As I listened to her life story and started to learn of her struggles, it became very apparent to me that I had nothing to offer her. We had grown up differently, our marriages were worlds apart, and she had “heard the whole Jesus thing” before.

Doing Versus Being

Leaders are busy people. That is certainly true for myMISSION leaders who feel like they are performing a juggling act of responsibilities. However, as leaders it is easy to substitute or confuse serving God with loving God.

Serving God focuses on what we do. We may mistakenly begin to think that the more we do or the better we do it, the more we please God. We work tirelessly, often neglecting our bodies, our families, or other responsibilities, all the while convincing ourselves we are being a great leader in God’s kingdom.

However, throughout the Bible God tells us that His greatest goal for us is to live fully and freely in His love and respond to His love by loving Him with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength. Loving God focuses on being. Being God’s child, fully loved and free to enjoy a loving relationship with Him, is what God desires for you. The goal is to live fully in God’s love.

Christian leaders need to intentionally engage in a process of spiritual formation in order to more fully understand and live in this love relationship with God. Spiritual formation is:

Show and Tell

Do you remember being in preschool/kindergarten and having “show and tell” day? I can recall Friday mornings being an exciting day to take my special “item” to school to share with my classmates.

Each week though it never failed, right before my turn to stand in front of the class and share I would get butterflies in my stomach. I would get nervous, afraid I would stumble over my words or that my classmates would think my item wasn’t “cool” enough. When that happened, I forgot all about my motivation for choosing that special item because I was consumed by fear and failure.

Sharing Christ with someone can be much like “show and tell.” The thought of an opportunity to share the impact of Jesus in our life can be very exciting. We begin recalling those “ah-ha” moments when certain pieces of our journey to accept salvation became very real and “clicked”: when we accepted that the only way to God the Father was through His Son, Jesus Christ. We get excited thinking about how our lives are changed when we embrace grace, accept forgiveness, and pursue a life that brings honor and glory to God.

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