Women on Mission Blog

A Leap of Selflessness!

Today, I am with my Daddy—who is in the last days, perhaps even last hours, of his earthly life. Selfishly, I find myself grasping for every minute, every moment of his final season.

Today, I have witnessed “selflessness” in action! Hands that have provided comfort; hearts who have stood watch and accompanied our family in grief! Nurses, people, servants of our Lord Jesus Christ who are now forever part of our eternal story!

What transforms a spirit of selfishness into a gift of selflessness? Is it sacrifice or simply service at its best?

The answer, I believe, must begin with Jesus—who "for the joy set before him he endured the cross" (Hebrews 12:2 NIV).

Yes! Selflessness requires a choice, a choice to take up one’s cross and turn from an inward place of focus to an outward position of love—complemented by an upward expression of surrender!

Today, I have witnessed selflessness at its best!

Just after penning these words, Joanie Ballard had the privilege of celebrating her Daddy’s journey to Jesus! 

“Broken” Revisited

I don’t like the word “broken.” Broken is not a word that brings forth positive visual imagery to my pondering mind. It’s a sad word, a despairing word. Consider some of the connotations for broken:

  • broken hearts
  • broken bones
  • broken homes
  • broken relationships
  • broken people
  • broken dreams

Even broken things can produce frowns. I still remember the day my toddler made a mad dash through our home and knocked over a stone pitcher. It was one of the few heirlooms from my mom who died when I was only 13. Thankfully I quickly acknowledged that my son’s heart was of greater value than even this crock—but the loss associated with this now broken (but repaired) object still resonates.

In light of the negative associations, we wonder, can anything good come from “broken”? Oh, yes.

Benefits of Brokenness

A broken heart invites the notice and attendance of God into our need:

Perseverance: What Can We Do When Someone Else Loses Hope?

There’s so much in God’s Word about perseverance. But what do we do when another believer is worn out . . . has lost hope . . . or is physically drained? This is when we come alongside one another and build each other up. This is when our own faith and what we’ve been through ministers to another soul.

Proverbs 27:7 says we are like iron, sharpening one another.

One Thessalonians 5:14 tells us to “encourage the disheartened, help the weak, be patient with everyone” (NIV).

One of the most beautiful pictures of spiritual assistance is in Exodus 17. Moses lifts the staff of God upward during the battle between Israel and the Amalakites. When his arm is lifted, Israel is winning. Then Moses’ body becomes tired, his arm lowers, and Israel starts losing. Along comes Aaron and Hur to stand alongside Moses, helping support him to stay upright. The nation of Israel is victorious in the battle.

Persistent Prayer—Bedrock of Ministry

Perseverance is a steely resolve to keep going because God is with us and we know it. We don’t give up. We battle the problems. We move on in God’s strength.

But consider how much God’s work relies on prayer. And what is worth praying for, if not to also pray with a passion? Let’s take a look at one such account in Acts chapter 4.

Peter and John have been preaching the gospel. The Holy Spirit is definitely working because about 5,000 souls had received Christ. But the leaders of the law felt threatened and threw Peter and John in jail. It appeared their ministry was ending. Then they’re released and told to stop professing the name of Christ—which they insist they cannot do.

After returning to their friends to give a report, continued prayer and praise comes forth.

Perseverance for the Sake of the Gospel

In 2 Timothy 4:5, it says, "But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry."

In this scripture, the Apostle Paul is giving charge of the gospel to Timothy. And what wonderful words for all of us who are on mission for Christ!

Keeping Our Minds on the Gospel
Who among us doesn’t need reminded to keep our head in all situations? Quite simply this means we’re to stay focused, remain vigilant, and gaze straight ahead at the mission we’re doing for the Lord. Resisting the distractions of life helps us to stay faithful to Christ.

Keep Pressing On
Enduring hardship is part of every act of ministry we will set ourselves to do. We should expect roadblocks, warfare, problems, shortage of funds, weather cancelations, etc. If we’re doing anything of value to the Kingdom of God, we shouldn’t expect the enemy to be silent.

The Testing that Produces Perseverance

Early in my walk with Christ, I had no idea how much faith is tested through the trials, heartaches, and afflictions of this life. I had thought you focused on acting out your faith through Christian service and that was the best way to express your love for Christ.

But I had lessons yet to learn, and a gracious God who would teach me.

The frailties of life would become like a “friend” who came and knocked on the door of my heart every now and then. When I accepted them and let them into my life, it also allowed my best friend, Jesus, to work in the situation.

After our son’s diagnosis of autism, the entire family dynamics would change in our house. Sometimes the struggle seemed too much to bear. But it didn’t take too long into this life journey to realize God was showing me what it meant to persevere through faith.

Affliction has refined my beliefs,

helped slough off the deadness of my fleshly nature,

and helped me effectively serve God in so many ways.

When God sends us straight into the storms of life, it’s no accident.

Trust me…he knows what He is doing.

Never Give Up When Someone You Love Is Lost

Never Give UP

As much as you love your family members and friends and desire for them to know Jesus, remember that God loves them more and His will is that all should be saved (2 Peter 3:9).

View your personal relationships as your missions field. Be intentional, but avoid appearing judgmental. Guard against being “holier than thou.” Always let your words and deeds be spoken and done in love. Sometimes this is difficult because of age differences and generational cultural changes. However, God does not change. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever—a fact people often forget or choose to ignore.

Stealing the Spotlight

You worked incredibly hard on the project, pouring your very best into every detail. You dotted every i and crossed every last t to ensure a successful outcome. Your fingerprints and personal touch are splashed all over the project; anyone could clearly see that you did all the work! But in the grand finale when the house lights went down and the spotlight shone brightly, a colleague stepped in from the shadows to take credit for it all. One spotlight earned yet stolen.

When Jesus called us as His disciples to deny ourselves, He knew that sometimes the cost would be physical, like enduring a beating or going without food or shelter. He also knew that sometimes the cost would be to our egos. If we fail to look at these pride-busting situations with our spiritual eyes, then we won’t recognize these opportunities to deny ourselves for Jesus’ sake and our flesh will win.

Dealing with relationship problems? Ask God to teach you how to deny yourself in every situation and pick up a cross to follow in Jesus’ footsteps.

Not-So-Nice People

I’m not sure how it fell on the ears or landed in the hearts of the disciples when Jesus called them to deny themselves, pick up their cross, and follow Him (Mark 8:34), but for me, it painted images of beautiful sacrifice.

I’m talking about teaching Bible stories under a scrubby tree in sub-Saharan Africa, climbing rocky hillsides to take the gospel to an unreached people group tucked in high-elevation villages, eating raw fish to take one for the team (the missions team, of course), or studying long hours over complicated Bible passages. These are the self-denying, cross-bearing activities I was ready to embrace. But when a selfish, whiny, paranoid woman wandered into my life and God told me to deny myself and love her unconditionally, well . . . it knocked me for a loop.

Don’t get caught up in the larger-than-life, grandiose ideas of what sacrificial living has to look like for a believer. It can be all those things, but it can also mean sitting at the bedside of an aging parent or learning to love a difficult person who has never known Christ’s love. Look far away and then look close to home: how is God calling you to deny yourself?

Next Generation Vision

As a parent, I’ve always strived to teach my children about missions and involve them in mission action whenever possible. My children are now 16 and 13 and grew up in Girls in Action and Royal Ambassadors. They know what it means to be on mission.

My vision for them is to continue being on mission every day of their lives. There are many opportunities with our church and their school to continue to develop this mind-set.

I plan to encourage them to be involved in missions by having them participate with me, helping them find ways they can do missions, and educating them about current events so they can brainstorm ways they can be on mission.

It’s up to us to cultivate a vision to encourage and teach the next generation to live a missions lifestyle that honors God.

Jennifer Booth writes from her home in Little Rock, Arkansas. Connect with her on her blog at JenniferBooth.com.

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