My expectations, my hopes, my choices seem so important to me. Even for the Christ-follower the temptation is to list objectives and set schedules that are all about the little trinity – me, myself, and I.
1. Looking back on the past year I recognize that many of my plans were blown away like sand but the ones that survived were formed through prayer, the Word, and trusted advisers. Psalm 33:11 says. “But the plans of the LORD stand firm forever, the purposes of his heart through all generations.”
2. I am testing all goals, objectives and schedules with God’s Word based on Proverbs 16:9, “In his heart a man plans his course, but the LORD determines his steps.” I need to make sure God is in the center – not me.
3. When working on those items which are personal, I keep coming back to Galatians 5:22-26, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.” It seems ridiculously obvious that if this fruit is evident in my character, the result will be humility, faithfulness, and obedience. The focus is God’s plans for me not my plans for God.
How does this get fleshed out for ministry?
– Preach the Word – the whole counsel of God from Genesis to Revelation. In most churches 99% of the people who come through the front door are already Believers but 99% of the messages are presentations of salvation. We must preach the Word to produce mature followers of Jesus.
– Model and encourage New Testament fellowship; not just eating a meal together or having pie after the service. Koinonia takes place when we drop our masks, quit playing politics, and actually begin caring for one another.
– Embrace the full experience of celebrating the Lord’s Table. Slow down. Contemplate. Plan at least one entire service centered on Communion.
– Pray; not just for health concerns but for souls, and spiritual direction and discernment. Pray.
– Talk about what God has done in the past month and is doing right in the local church. If those stories don’t move the soul and fill people with awe, some serious examination and tough work needs to be done.
– Practice generosity. First, take care of the pastor and if there is anything left in the bank account give it away. The “rainy day” is here – people in the community are homeless and hungry.
– Go where the people are. Don’t schedule non-worship services at the church building.
– Small group gatherings are essential and while small groups don’t guarantee personal growth there are no documented cases of personal growth without small groups.
Let’s be careful and purposeful in making Christ the center. Practically, this means we look for how to join what God is already doing; participate in His plans and resist the temptation to ask God to bless our plans.
In order to live in this world where self rules and money is god, we must resist the temptation to mount an activist campaign but instead, be patient, endure injustice, and pray urgently that our King Jesus will come soon. This requires our full attention in loving others extravagantly, forgiving freely, and giving resources generously. Then we will be known for what we are FOR not what we are against and our love for each other will prove our love for God.