We have all been there. We’ve gone to a life changing conference or heard an amazing sermon or even just had a really amazing quiet time to start our day and afterwards, we are super charged and ready to do amazing things for God. We are going to change the world!
And then, we step outside our door or return home or enter our churches, and we aren’t quite as sure. We don’t know how to get started, or we do start and are met with obstacles or roadblocks. Other people aren’t excited; the pastor doesn’t want to implement your new missions strategy; your husband doesn’t want to sell all of your possessions and move to an immigrant community. Suddenly, all of that wonderful excitement is gone, and all that is left is frustration, bitterness and maybe a few tears.
We received a lot of wonderful feedback on the Micah 6:8 Conference and we are ecstatic that so many people attended and were blessed by it, but rather than falling into the familiar cycle described above. I thought I might share some thoughts on ways to avoid this cycle with an assist from our keynote speaker, Jen Hatmaker and her husband, Brandon.
Spend some time diligently seeking the Lord.
As a Type-A person, I completely understand the tendency to just jump right into a new project or initiative, but in this latest season of life the Lord has been sending gentle reminders on the importance and power of prayer. So resist the urge to set up a meeting with your pastor or start picketing your local payday lender and instead commit to time in prayer. Pray over the specific issue(s), for the people who are involved, for your church, for resources and allow the Lord to direct your steps. Prayer is active. Doing additional Bible study on the topic is an active part of this first step.
In the words of Jen Hatmaker, be a humble learner. Read up on the issues. Look around and see who in your community is already doing the work and set up a meeting just to listen and learn more about the problem. Before you begin any new initiatives or programs, do your research. You don’t want to create duplicate efforts or waste resources if someone in your community is already doing it well. You do not want to walk into your pastor’s office and ask him to start a community development ministry at your church if you haven’t done any research on the specific needs of your community. What resources are already available and who specifically are you trying to help with this new ministry idea?
P.S. you don’t need to learn everything there is to know about an issue before you start, but basic information and a few meetings with experts can save you from a world of hurt and frustration down the line.
Find your community and do it together.
You cannot do it alone. Even if it seems like a solo mission, you will at a minimum need cheerleaders along the way. As an introvert, I can say with confidence we are created for community. You will need a support team to push you and sometimes pull you along.
Maybe start by sharing your heart, vision, what you have been learning with your Bible study or Sunday school class or close friends or people you volunteer with. It sounds terrifying, but be brave! The worst thing that can happen is they say no, but maybe they’ll say yes and you will have completed the first step in creating an orphan care ministry or a support group for those struggling with mental illness.
Here’s why prayer is an important first step, God may place specific people on your heart for the purpose of helping or teaching you along the way. Finding your tribe is an essential post-mountaintop step, because you will definitely need people to hold you accountable, encourage you, support you, and equip you for a life on mission.
Don’t give up.
If you have prayed about it and are called to it, watch God use you to do it. I have been in advocacy for almost 10 years and it is a slow game.
It’s frustrating that after three legislative sessions, we haven’t been able to get even moderate reforms of the payday lending industry through the Texas Legislature. But, in 2017, I will be right back at it, because I believe usury is immoral. And while, we haven’t gotten statewide regulation, more than 30 cities have passed local ordinances regulating payday and auto-title lenders.
The same goes for just about anything in life. We are just a small part of the redemptive work God is doing, and we should just play our note and let God worry about the results. It may take two years to fully realize your dream of starting an advocacy team at your church or creating a job training program or starting a multiethnic church, but God is faithful even in the dry seasons. He is at work even when you can’t and don’t see the results you hoped for when you got back in your car and headed home after that life-changing conference, sermon, meeting, etc.
Always remember; the human mind may devise many plans, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will be established (Proverbs 19:21 NRSV).
Thanks to all who joined us in San Antonio for the Micah 6:8 Conference. If we can be of further service to you or your church in your post-Micah 6:8 Conference endeavors, please let us know. We would love to sit with you over coffee or speak to your Sunday school class.