It has taken me several months of processing the journey of this year to prepare for writing this post. As you may know, I was surprised at the beginning of the year by an opportunity to rejoin the full-time staff team at 12Stone as the Director of Outreach, overseeing all the local community and global missions team.
If you have read my earlier writings from the year, you know that last year was a difficult and challenging year that brought far more confusion than clarity. One of the main questions I have been asked recently is, “Can you look back now and see what God was up to last year?” My answer is quite honestly, “No, don’t really have a clue!”
I don’t believe the point of last year was for me to ultimately have an epiphany about God’s plans and purposes. The point of last year was to simply lean into faith and hope that God’s plan will have a purpose in the end. Of this I am confident.
What I do know about last year is that God taught me a lot and for some reason it was necessary to take me through some challenging days to build up wisdom and resiliency for the days ahead. Although I don’t want to experience last year again, I am thankful for the opportunity to grow.
As I have embraced my new vocational calling I am discovering the next layer of my growth and effectiveness as a leader. Over the past 5 months I have had the pleasure of meeting many of the heroes of our community leading and serving non-profits to meet the great needs represented by poverty, abuse, illness, etc…
These connections have been inspiring and here are 4 life-changing lessons I am learning about serving:
Too often my service is self-serving. It’s service, but it’s done in my own time, my own way and fits neatly into my personal life and schedule. I am coming to believe that life-changing service should often pull me beyond myself and my personal schedule into making real life sacrifices for others – with time, talents, treasures, etc…
Getting involved in and committed to the community we live in is really important. Life can’t be so busy that we don’t serve the needs of our neighbors and connect relationally.
It is essential that I engage my children at a young age in service to others. If I don’t, they will move into adulthood thinking life is just about them and their needs – which it’s not. Last week, we took our summer vacation to serve at the Lighthouse Family Retreats (www.lighthousefamilyretreat.org) serving families dealing with childhood cancer. This experience did something in my children that no vacation focused on just our personal experience and comfort could have ever done. I’m not saying every vacation should be about serving others, but let’s be honest, we spend enough time on ourselves, why not invest our vacation money and time to serve others on occasion?!
In almost 24 years of full-time vocational ministry work, I have invested more time than I can count helping people struggle with their challeges and issues. I am coming to believe that half the personal issues we get stuck in and obsess over would be easily put behind us if we took time to serve people who have more challenges and diffuculty in life than we do. Many of our problems are just self-centeredness with no outlet to serve it away.