myMISSION Leader Blog

The Blessing of Listening

When was the last time you really felt heard? When have you really felt like you heard someone else’s heart?

This month, we have been thinking a lot about how to grow relationships. One way that is harder than it sounds is by learning to listen.

The gift of listening is more than just keeping our mouths shut. To listen, really listen, we need to engage with our minds and hearts. We need to enter into someone else’s reality to the point that we can sense what God is doing in their lives. It is rarely what we think about on the surface. Something is always deeper. Our God’s love is deep and wide. It removes our sin as far as the east is from the west. Truly only He knows the plans He has for us. Only He can walk us through the valleys. Our relationships with others recognize His work in their lives and we must listen well to even begin to see His ways. He often surprises us in the journey.

Seek with All Your Heart

We have been thinking a lot about time this month—managing time and investing time in relationships. Ecclesiastes 3 says that there is a time for everything. Sometimes I wonder: Really? Is there really time for everything we need to do and everything God wants us to do? I don’t know about you, but for me it is a huge challenge!

OK, but if it comes from God’s Word, then we know it’s true, right? But how? Psalm 139:16 says God has our days planned. Ephesians 2:10 says that there are works prepared in advance for us to do. In Jeremiah 29:11–13 (NIV), God says, “I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.” He continues to say that with these plans in place, “then you will call on me and come and pray to me. . . . You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”

Beautiful.

Do Not Fear

One question has been a theme of several conversations lately. What would we do—live, be, accomplish, or even attempt—if we did not fear? What would we do as leaders?

I heard a song on my radio app this morning, “To the Very End” by Will Reagan and United Pursuit Band. The lyrics include, “You can have all my fears, God. . . . I know You’re with me to the very end.”

The Christmas echo still rings in my ear: Emmanuel, God with us. How does the reality of Christ’s presence change how we live? How does it change how we lead?

Even the Great Commission is empowered by God with us through Jesus’ promised presence. Jesus said, “And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matt. 28:20b NIV). If Jesus’ presence with us truly makes a difference, then what is it that seems to hold us back? What do we fear? Is it conflict, pain, loss, or failure of some kind? What is it for you?

Light Makes a Difference

Light is beautiful. And fascinating. Light makes a difference. It changes darkness instantly. There is so much darkness in our world. What would it take for God’s light to shine in new ways this Christmas season?

I watched a documentary recently on the Star of Bethlehem. It is amazing all God did to point to the Christ child, to celebrate this awesome gift. A light, pointing the way.

I wonder, how can we point others to Christ during this special time of year? How can we be light to others? Would there be a simple, humble corner of the earth where we could be that light, even to those as meek as shepherds? And would God use it to call even people as important as Magi from the East, to Himself?

Enter Another’s Story

Being a leader isn’t easy. But then again, being a follower isn’t always easy either. Maybe “easy” isn’t what we should be going for.

I work at WMU and it’s a huge blessing. My team recently had the opportunity to visit a ministry site where I made a new friend. God gave us a moment together on a bench outside. “Easy” wasn’t in her vocabulary, if you know what I mean. What she shared was more like a journey. She is trusting God in new ways and taking one step at a time. I look forward to going back and seeing her again. But what if I had missed the opportunity to make a new friend, to enter into another’s story?

It isn’t easy to slow down, to listen, to act, to love, and to find the time. As leaders, we sometimes feel the pressure to be a few steps ahead, setting the pace, being responsible. What if we could learn to be more intentional in our presence with people? What would it look like to lead others to do the same?

Who Am I?

Daughter, sister, wife, mom, friend?

Student, teacher, medical professional, sales representative?

Missionary, church staff, volunteer, leader, advocate?

We constantly need to ask ourselves, Is who I am defined by my group of friends or family? Is it defined by my status, job, or leadership position?

The Christian answer is simple: be defined by who we are in Christ. Our identity is in Him—saved, adopted, and loved forever. But is it that simple? What gets in our way?

Temptation, as in the Garden of Eden and with Jesus in the wilderness, comes at us with words that attempt to repaint reality and cast doubt on the truth we know.

In the Garden of Eden, God made man in His own image and His likeness. It was good, and everything was whole. There was freedom, choice, meaningful work, togetherness, and the absence of shame.

A Beautiful Mystery

September is a great month . . . Fall is just around the corner while summer is still hanging on for one last breath of warm air. Summer can give us the feeling of taking a break. September puts us back on track and brings us back to reality, in a good way.

Students are getting their schedules and signing up for programs and activities. Professionals may be starting their first “real” job or getting back into the swing of things. Moms may be still trying to figure out how to get their infant to sleep through the night and maybe themselves as well. Or they are packing lunches, helping with homework, and figuring out a new balance for home life.

As leaders, we often wonder, what does God want now? Whatever season of life we find ourselves in, how will we define success? What will it take to know God’s will in this new day-to-day reality?

One missionary friend says that she is in transition, asking that same question. Wherever we are, whatever we are doing, how do we know God’s will today?

So Far, So Good?

How’s your summer so far?

So far, I’ve had a picnic, seen a movie, slept in at least once, and hung out with friends. Thankfully, I love my job so I actually enjoy going to work, but I love getting off work as well to step into nature for at least a bit before dinner.

And then there’s the trip planning. Guess where I went? I was able to share about myMISSION at the WMU Annual Meeting and Missions Celebration in St. Louis, Missouri. What an amazing opportunity! So many things were going on—evangelism and service opportunities in the city, reports from all the missions agencies, connections with friends both new and old, fun food to try, and different sessions to hear more about missions. We prayed and worshipped together, attended breakout sessions for different age groups, and found out about opportunities to jump into all year long. I loved getting to talk with people about where God is leading them and what missions opportunities they are seeking. We are celebrating all that God is doing in our world.

Summer Plans

Summer . . . plans. Really? Isn’t that an oxymoron? Summer is not supposed to be about plans. It’s about not having to have a plan! Or at least I used to think so. I guess summer as a grown-up isn’t always quite that free. I remember the feeling of getting out of the last day of school without a care in the world. I had nothing to do and no expectations—just rest, TV, making up games in the yard, or spending time with my grandparents. It was awesome, for a while. It didn’t take long to find out that there were still household chores to do, some expectations of others, and, in the South, a humid heat that drains your energy. Oh, and boredom, sunburns, and mosquitos.

I didn’t make plans back then but I’m pretty sure someone was making them. Summers are pretty awesome, but maybe having a plan isn’t such a bad idea after all.

May I Rest?

May . . .

I love May . . .

Warm air, sunshine, flowers, birds, strawberries—even mangos—my local store has mangos! What’s not to love? We have a holiday in May. It’s the end of school. My daughter was born in May. I love May . . .

So why am I tired? I don’t know about you but for some reason, this year, I’m not finding that extra boost of energy and excitement. Everything is good; it’s actually great! My family is great. I am happy, healthy, loving my job, growing in a community, and having opportunities to be on mission. Hmm . . . maybe, this May, I just need a bit of rest.

When you lead something—a group, a family, a trip, anything—you can become tired. I hear it’s OK to be tired. Jesus was tired. He took time to sleep in a boat, walk in a garden, pray alone, go to weddings, talk with friends, and even rest at a well.

Pages

Back to Top