Whenever I sit down to write something, I run circles in my mind until I come to the conclusion that I have nothing of worth to contribute. If you experience something similar in your decision making - if you feel that pull to go but feel inadequate to the task - I have good news for you. The voices in our heads are wrong.
I mean, they’re kind of right, but they are wrong.
Satan takes truth and twists it. When you see your deficiencies and say, “I’m lacking”, you’re right. If you stop there, you’re wrong. “BUT GOD” is the game-changing phrase in the Bible and in our world.
I’m not equipped, BUT GOD is my strength and will equip me as I go.
I’m fearful, BUT GOD is my sword and shield and in Him I have nothing to fear.
I am not capable of affecting spiritual change in anyone, BUT GOD breathes into dead souls and walks people out of ugly tombs into new life.
The lesson I needed to learn before ever walking onto the field was this: Him, not me.
On the field, it was a full two years of learning lessons and God breaking chains in me, even as He used me for His kingdom. I am a different person, and that is a remarkable thing to be able to say. I am a different person, and I’m looking forward to what God’s going to do next in my country and in me as I renew for another two years. Everyone’s story is different, so here are just a few pieces of advice I believe apply to everyone.
- If you’re going to be in language learning for a prolonged period of time, keep perspective. I’d forget WHY I was learning the language and feel guilty, as if I was wasting time and supporter money. You’re not. That language is necessary to live well in your country and, in my case, aid those who didn’t speak the language. Keep inspiration and your "whys" around; remember this time is worship and ministry too. Also, doing this season well involves so much more than just studying, which brings me to number two…
- Be kind to yourself. It might be the case that you’ve never had to worry about cooking meals or really nailing down a sleep schedule. Figure out what a good living schedule looks like for you, as opposed to running on the same erratic, Red Bull fueled energy that sustained you in college. (Trust me, coffee can’t play substitute to sleep forever). Sleeping, eating, exercise, God time, even what good off time looks like (stuff that gives you life, not just Netflix). All of it affects how you approach work and ministry. IT IS OK if this takes a long time to figure out, it’s ok if it takes the whole first year! That’s normal, as I found out. Don’t beat yourself up.
- Expectations. You’ll probably want to come in guns a-blazing, ready to conquer everything with 110% productivity. You definitely have an unconscious list of things you expect. Write them out, bring those to the light, place your desires to do good work at Jesus’ feet, and be open to His agenda. Maybe you don’t get everything you expected to done that day because God had a divine appointment or life was classically unpredictable. Let go and roll with it.
- Jesus. If you’re spiritually unhealthy, you’re not healthy. If you get so wrapped up in work and ministry you neglect the Relationship that matters, stop what you’re doing and start again. It happens to all of us, so cling to grace and cherish the truth: a living, breathing, dynamic relationship with Jesus is the prize and its ours. Learn more what it is like to live with Him. Consider it practice for eternity.