Women on Mission Blog

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.

Missions Matters!

Sometimes it “pays” to look down. This is one way our family finds extra funds for the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering.

When our children were young, we began the tradition of depositing any money found throughout the year into our Mission Jar. This included money discovered in the pockets of clothing to be washed, in vehicle seats, between couch cushions, and especially lying on sidewalks—I once stumbled across $7 this way! In December, we would take our money to a coin changer and include the total in our missions offering.

While our Mission Jar was a family project, it is always interesting to discover the creative ways churches publicize the international missions emphasis. My friend Sue’s church makes Lottie Moon come alive for young children by displaying a life-size cutout of Ms. Lottie and allowing the youngsters to compare their own size to this diminutive missionary to China.

Impact

What do you truly value? Today’s culture applauds success, beauty, power, wealth, and status. Being considered “humble” is certainly not a label to be envied. Yet a large group of Christian writers can point to the encouragement and mentoring of a couple greatly characterized by their humility.

David and Joanne Sloan, both respected and successful writers, responded more than 20 years ago to God’s call to equip Christian writers for fruitful ministry. They founded the Southern Christian Writers Conference, which convenes annually in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.

As conference directors, their organizational work and personal contributions were never referenced nor were their own impressive credentials. Even serious health issues were hidden. Their goal was to teach writers to pursue their dreams of writing to honor God. Additionally, twice a year, the Sloans opened their home to provide small groups a day of more intense training.

All Wrapped Up?

Two wrapped packages are set before you. You can choose only one. The labels tell you one contains opportunities to increase your strength and have greater independence, while the other will result in weakness of some kind and a greater dependence.

The choice seems easy . . . unless your goal is to be like Christ. You see, in God’s upside-down economy,

weakness is strength (2 Cor. 12:10b);
wisdom is foolishness (1 Cor. 3:19);
humility is honored (Prov. 22:4);
death produces life (John 12:24);
surrender is victory (1 John 5:4–5);
loss is gain (2 Cor. 4:17).

We can often observe this paradox of reversal in the lives of Christ followers. My daughter had a wasting muscle disease resulting in extreme weakness. She never weighed more than 55 pounds. Yet her contagious smile, perky disposition, and bold faith made a strong impact for Jesus. God’s power was reflected in her weakness.

Jackie Leggett’s husband, Chris, was murdered in Mauritania in 2009. He was targeted because of his faith. But today his bold witness and sacrifice continue to live and bear much fruit among the people he served. His death produced life.

Who? Me?

How has God called and gifted you to contribute in the body of Christ? For me, it has been as a writer and sometimes reluctant speaker. Often those who serve in a communications calling like mine struggle with the divide between self-promotion and God’s clear directives toward humility.

One of my best lessons in humility came when I was given the opportunity to write for a well-loved women’s monthly devotional publication. I had visions of the acclaim and admiration my work could receive—until my editor indicated the writers were never acknowledged by name.

I soon recognized God was giving me an opportunity to humbly serve Him “incognito.” My unrecognized devotional writing would allow me to learn a sweet lesson in decreasing for His increase and to experience the presence of His affirmation alone.

Choosing Unconditional Love

If something is unconditional, it is absolute. There are no restrictions. We can count on it. God’s love is unconditional. He is always there for us no matter how badly we mess up. Isn’t that reassuring? As Christians, we are called to show that same unconditional love to others.

When I became a parent, I gained a greater understanding of what that meant. I can be thrown up on, ignored, and lied to by 1 of my 2 sons and still love him just as much the next day. My sons’ choices may sometimes hurt deeply, but I never stop caring for them.

Over the years, I have learned to love others unconditionally as well. An old friend may fail to call for a long time, but when she does, I am just as happy to talk to her. My husband and I may have different opinions about our finances, but we work it out and remember that our relationship is far more important than any amount of money.

Remembering daily God’s unconditional love for us helps us give that same love to others. No one is perfect. We will be disappointed by those in our lives. We must choose unconditional love.

Praying for Those We Don’t Want to Pray For

Not long ago, my son came home from school and told me that a little girl in his class called him a cuss word at lunch. We talked about how to show her kindness even when she said mean things. I also told him to tell me if it happened again and I would talk to his teacher. What really amazed him, however, was when I prayed for the little girl. We later found out that she has a parent in prison and has been going through a difficult time.

Prayer is important, even when it is for someone we don’t get along with or agree with. It asks God to intervene in the person’s life or in a situation and often changes our attitude toward the person.

Who in your life do you need to pray for today? A boss who is hard to work for? A neighbor who stirs up trouble? A co-worker who doesn’t do his or her fair share of the work? A friend who has gossiped about you? A politician whose political views you do not agree with?

Start praying today and see how God changes lives, situations, and your heart. By the way, the little girl hasn’t called my son a bad name again!

Losing Your First Love to Good Things

I’m guilty. While it may not appear that way to the world, I know it in my heart. You can go to church, pray, tithe, and even serve and still be guilty of losing your First Love, of placing Jesus second in your life.

When it happens to me, it doesn’t happen overnight or with conspicuous things like sinful relationships, drugs, or alcohol. It happens with good things.

The first time I noticed it was in college. I went to a Christian college, was dating a Christian guy, and was a good student—all good things but things that took God’s place in my life. God brought it to my attention, and I had to reprioritize. I had to make sure I was spending time with Him each day and listening to His will for my life.

The second time I noticed it was as a young mother. I was taking good care of my 2 precious boys, but I wasn’t giving God quality time in my life.

What good things in your life may be causing you to lose your First Love? Work? Travel? Family? Reevaluate your life today and make sure Jesus is still in first place. 

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