I feel something BIG happening in the church as a whole right now.
I am seeing more and more of the beautiful balance of worshipping and filling up on the weekend within the corporate worship setting in order to pour ourselves out throughout the week. Giving and serving and loving the ones God has surrounded us with at work, home, and other activities, as we tangibly point others to Christ.
It's as if there is an intentional shift. A driven focus.
And I don't think it's just our church or area. I have heard of churches all over the world making this shift from the gluttonous, self-centered worship that has unfortunately infected many of our churches. And I am proud to be a part of one of the churches fighting this trend.
But along with this outward focus can come feelings of exhaustion and burn out. Overwhelmed feelings with the amount of work that still needs to be done. Difficulty saying “no” to a good opportunity to serve in order to keep your priorities in check.
How can we figure out how to live life on mission while still protecting the much-needed white space we, and our family, need. A more pointed question for this audience–how can we best fulfill our responsibility to make disciples and love our neighbors while continuing to pour into the mission field within the four walls of our own home?
There are three questions I ask myself before saying “yes” to a good outside serving opportunity:
1 – Where is the most EFFECTIVE area for you to serve at this moment, in this season?
I am a musician. My husband and I began our own ministry and traveled around leading worship for camps, conferences, churches, and other gatherings on a full-time basis for several years. When we began this endeavor we had 2 small children. They grew up eating Cheerios in high chairs on the stage during band rehearsals and in the backseat of 15-passenger vans with the band guys. We have such fond memories of this time and they do too. We saw God do amazing things as we traveled around and it was such a privilege to be a part of this work.
Then we added a third child. It was getting a little bit more difficult to travel with the entire family. We didn't take them with us 100% of the time, and we felt completely confident that we were still on the right track. But after we added another baby within a month of bringing home our adopted daughter, I knew I needed to make a change.
Music is a talent and gift that God has given me, but my children are the arrows that I have been given to sharpen and grow. God is at work in both areas. But where will I be fulfilling the best good for the plan God has laid before me during this season in my life?
I still serve on the worship team with my husband at our church but I no longer play 3-4 times a month for the kids' sake. I am on every other week, with the flexibility to cancel if the kids need me. They are my priority, not the ministry I serve in.
2 – Is this activity simply a humanitarian act of kindness (which certainly has its place), or is it pointing people to Christ?
Anybody can do good just to do good. Unbelievers help out the homeless and needy all the time. But as a mom to five littles and wife to a husband who needs a supportive wife, I need to remember that the command to make disciples trumps all other “do good” activities. If I have time for both and can do them both well, then sign me up! But if I need to say “no” to the “actively good” in order to leave room for the “focused good” then I need to make my decision accordingly.
3 – Can my children be involved?
We all know that our children learn by watching us. And what better way to teach them to serve others than to allow them to do it with us? That is why we brought our kids to Africa WITH us when we were going through our adoption. That's why they went on the road with us during our music travels. That's why they come to pass out water to the victims of the tornado and to visit our neighbors.
The thing is, God is at work ALL AROUND US! Even without our help. But he WANTS us to be a part of what he is doing. Weigh your options and evaluate where you can be most effective, what kind of ministry you want to be involved in, then grab your kids and GO!
“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations…”