As I’m working through this season of ministry and raising support, I can’t help but think of the pace at which I am moving is consistent with wildfires smoking near my town. From 10 to 1000 acres in a matter of hours, I’m shocked to see the affects the fire has on the land it burns. People are being evacuated. Containment is difficult. All response teams can do while in the wilderness is wait out the fire. Wildfires are forces of nature that rapidly ravage everything. In raising support, not only do I need to keep in perspective the time and work it will take to complete, but I also need to perceive this ministry through prayer and patience so it can truly please the Lord. Or else, could raising support ravage everything?
I’ve seen pictures of forests that have been well managed, with trees evenly spaced compared to many dead trees crowding their canopies. Those forests that are well managed don’t burn as fast and actually prevent the wildfire from spreading, whereas the crowding of dead trees just become stacked kindling to the flames. As the damage builds and local news channels express urgency, I’ve recognized the work I am doing is not just something to rifle through, but properly manage, to set the precedent of quality over quantity. That before even beginning, it was most important to own up to my best intentions and choose what ministry I am to accomplish, friendly vulnerability or destructive transparency.
Sometimes people argue about cutting down the dead trees, but it can be easy to forget that sometimes you can have too much of a good thing. For example, properly stewarding forests so they last is important. Relatedly, it is easy to just reach out to everyone and anyone and tell them what I’m doing, although, it is also easy to start talking at people rather than with people. Having little connection is fine, but forming no connection I think causes relationships to have less substance and become like dead trees. So rather than adding to the fire, what I’ve found to be essential in sparking a relationship – that pleases the Lord – concurringly to using time and work to manage support raising, is justifying compassionate questions, prayer, and scripture, listening graciously to conversations, and building trust through vulnerability.
Which now comes the outro to a news report, “we still don’t know what caused the fire.” I don’t know about you, but I really need to understand what started the fire. Most of the time, wildfires start without any intention of becoming out of control. Like, there is usually lightning, or a camping mishap, a cig ember, or backyard combustion of some kind. Whatever the reason, it usually begins all right and then suddenly something loses control. When it comes to ministry in your hometown, I think the real question I started asking myself is: what is it about my testimony that makes it difficult to share? Or even, what makes it difficult to share my testimony with people I’ve known my whole life? First, I think it is safe to acknowledge speaking with those I’ve known my whole life about Jesus for the first time can be challenging to the core. Second, I think sharing your testimony or any testimony thereafter is difficult because repenting requires honesty. And finally, asking Jesus for forgiveness takes some restraint as well, a lot of wisdom to identify and become self-aware of what you’re truly and completely asking forgiveness for when giving a testimony. There is this feeling I sometimes have which is similar to my heart racing, but it emits almost physical warmth from my chest. Like speaking in public can make your face turn red and go hot, it’s my chest that feels like it does the same as I explain why the Lord has called me to share the Gospel with Muslims in North Africa. It's as if my heart inflames at how exposed it becomes. I can recall and look back on these times and know when it was difficult to be honest.
Other times, staying honest can be difficult. Constantly identifying through prayer false tendencies of my character is key. Folks, I catch myself all too often glorifying things that have nothing to do with Christ. For me specifically, I’ve picked up overtime that I can unintentionally create barriers or facades to hide behind through trying to please someone. It is really just too predictable for me now. I catch myself often choosing to please someone else rather than the Lord and it’s exasperating. This tendency of mine has become obvious to me because of how I slip into telling others what they want to hear about me rather than the truth. Concealing truth in small, subtle ways like this can fan good relationships the wrong way. Dishonesty can cause the spark of any relationship to lose control. So, I guess I think of a good and strong relationship in ministry as a great campfire for s’mores? Nevertheless, asking Jesus for understanding when confronting my own character is really the only way I can remain honest with myself and with others.
Overall, in ministry I think it is imperative to understand the importance of honesty. Conveying my relationship with Jesus to every person I choose to speak with, during raising support or just day-to-day sharing of my faith with Christ, is part of the ministry and is essential to the ministry without compromise. I know that this pleases the Lord.
In honest reflection.
1 John 1:1-4 That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched—this we proclaim concerning the Word of life. 2 The life appeared; we have seen it and testify to it, and we proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and has appeared to us. 3 We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ. 4 We write this to make our joy complete.
P.S. Please join me in praying that I may honestly share and glorify Jesus in my testimony. That more people will be open to meeting with me to hear about what the Lord is calling me to do in my life.