Teaching to Learn and Learning to Teach


Ministry

Have you ever gotten overwhelmed by the demands of ministry? Maybe you have seen many needs, too many to meet with your time and resources. Maybe you think you are not fit for the job or task God has given you. Pretty much every job I’ve ever been in, aside from GAP, I panicked at some point and thought, “I’m not up to the task. There’s been a mistake. I’m not supposed to be here.” I was wrong. God will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. That means that He has placed you there. When you feel the tension and you feel like there is more to do or more burdens than you can bear, remember He thinks you’re up to the task and He is using this to grow and change you.

Luke 9  shows us that Christ equips before He sends out. You may think you need x or y and you don’t have it, but He provides you with everything you truly need. II Peter 1:3  tells us that God has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of Him.

When I started writing this post last December, I saw how God was stretching me and remembered that He had custom built the trials for me because He knew I was up to the task. I saw at that time how those difficulties in my job were used by God to teach me how to respond when I saw needs I couldn’t meet. I recognized God was preparing me, although I didn’t know for what. I wrote at that time over 9 months ago, “God in His goodness is teaching me here and now. There will always be more needs than I can meet, especially if I am ever in a shepherding role be that teaching, a missionary, or a resident director” … Look at that. I’m an RD!!!!!! Yippee. When I started this post I didn’t even know if there would be a position open, let alone that I would be hired to fill one. I’m so thankful that the Lord equips us for the ministries He gives us. I need to remember this so that I don’t have that panicked moment in this job :).

At that same time last December, I saw God teaching me to be quick to listen and apt to take advice. Being a single girl in ministry is hard. I think it is even harder in my current role, so praise God He got me thinking about this almost a year ago. I can work work work and there is no one to say come home. This was an issue in my last job but thankfully I had people in my life saying, “Go home,” that I learned to listen to. I will need to continue to listen to them as they help me balance what it means to be in ministry as a single girl and how to think through the challenges of minsitry in general. I need to listen to them as they say, “Jenn, You may think that is best, but that is your opinion. It doesn’t make it best.”

Another apropos lesson God was teaching me last December was what it looks like to minister in a larger sphere. There are daily more and more opportunities that I see that I have to say no to. This is more true today than it was then. When my life was on an isolated little community in Israel with 40 students and 7 staff members with 7 kids, with limited mobility, and a centrally-located office where I lived in the same place as all my coworkers, friends, and the students I was ministering to I had more opportunities than I could take advantage of and more things I could possibly be doing than time to do them in. Last December I was working with 22 staff members, many of whom had spouses, there were 17 kids in our department, I went to a church of 600 and had more opportunities to get involved and interact with people there than at the Keilah (Congregation in Israel). There were around a thousand students I served. I had roommates, I have family in the area and I am only 5 1/2 hours away from the rest of my family. I have old friends within driving distance, I have new friends all around. All of these things are good, but that means I have to be willing to say no to good things for better things. All of these spheres of my life, church, friends, coworkers, etc. have grown leaps and bounds in my new role. I wrote about this lesson in the original draft, “God is so good and so wise to teach me this now. It makes me wonder what is ahead.” Haha. Now I know and I proclaim even louder “God was so good and wise to start teaching me that then.”

I’ve enjoyed going back through my drafts and considering these things which God was teaching me and which He is still causing me to think through or apply to daily life. I’m getting close to writing about my current life :).



I’m in Good Company

I enjoyed The Narnian so much that I have been intending to write a series of lengthy posts on it. Now I don’t need to. Because these two guys recommend it. Their recommendation speaks volumes.

For work, I also recently read several chapters of this fascinating book. Justin Taylor also speaks about this book here.

I recently finished this biography for a class. The title and cover may lead you to believe it is a romance novel or a flowery, women’s ministry book, but it isn’t. Because of the way it was written and the subject matter, it is a quick read. It isn’t easy to put it down. It is also a worthwhile read. It will make you question your comfortable life in America as a follower of Christ. It will also provoke you to ask, “What do I hold more dear than God’s glory?”



Who Toilet Papered Your Office, Lisa?

Lisa's Office

 

I laughed at this site as I entered King Hall. When I found out it was Carol Bugbee, our Missionary in Residence, who did it, I laughed harder. The laughter increased yet again when I found out this was a part of her Woman to Woman event. Haha. Nicely done!



Really Cool Missionaries

 See full size imageMalawi Flag

If you want to know what it looks like to minister overseas, I would like to recommend a good blog. Click here. My friends Rachel and Matt moved to Milawi recently. They are amazing photographers, communicators, friends, servants, and just all around creative people. I highly recommend their blog. It will make you think in new ways about life, ministry, being overseas, and other random things.

Pic of Matt and Rachel     Matt and Rachel

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See full size imageGerman Flag

Click here for another great blog, also from dear friends who ministered overseas last year and are readjusting to life in the States. It was a blessing to get together with them the other day and hear all they learned. They had fascinating insites into vocational ministry, community, American practices, teaching overseas and much more!

  

            Adam and Laura 

 

Happy blog reading!



What do you do when you see needs you can’t meet?
August 23, 2009, 5:06 am
Filed under: Christian Living, current issues, Lessons Learned, missions, My life

My heart has been breaking recently. There are things I want to do, I can’t; physical needs I want to meet, I am unable to; two places I want to be at once to help; people’s situations I want to fix, I can’t. There has been a lot lately that I can’t do. All of this has been very thought provoking recently in my life.

First, it has made me think about how much I like to fix people’s immediate needs. I’m especially partial to filling people’s stomachs to make them feel better. That is probably apparent from my blog posts on kitchen creations and my incessant baking. One of my roommates says when I bake that Yankee Candle Company should create candles with the scent of our kitchen. Feeding people is something I can do and it usually makes them feel better and feel loved. Lately I’ve been thinking through how limited my love is if I only love in that way. Sometimes it is so easy to bake something (especially in Jr. High or college ministry) to care for someone, that I do that instead of what’s harder – serving in a menial way, talking with someone through hard issues, encouraging someone when it is hard to know what to say, etc. I don’t want to only serve in this way. You can fill a person’s stomach and still leave their heart hurting.

This leads me to another thing I have been thinking through – the issue of meeting physical needs that it may be better to not have met or at least not by me. I in no way intend to say that meeting physical needs is unnecessary; the Bible is very clear that true religion does not just say, “Be warmed and be filled” (James 2:16). Sometimes, however,  needs are meant to reveal a person’s need for Christ and when met too quickly or in the wrong way the person can be left unsatisfied while feeling satisfied. The person can be left trusting in another person, or in how different a filled belly makes them feel, or … you name it. It is very easy to trust in circumstances. If someone is hungry (not in American terms, but in terms of the poor of the world) by all means we should feed them. If someone is in need of clothing, clothe them. I don’t know about you, but I’m drowning in excess, and if you are living in America, I have a feeling you are too. We should be sacrificing more to meet the needs of others, but not in order to be God to them or for them to glory in us or depend on us. Don’t meet needs because you fear man and want their praise. That can only turn them from Christ, make them trust in something that will fail, set yourself up for failure (Prov. 18:12), or train them not to be faithful because you are doing what they should be doing. What I’m saying is when I’m hungry, I’m grumpy; but that hunger isn’t a bad thing. Someone shouldn’t sin to provide me with food. My hunger reveals my heart, especially when other circumstances in life have put the heat on me as well. If you can help me out, great; but only if you can do it in a way that glorifies God and not in a way that glorifies you and thwarts God’s redemptive work in my life. Mysorrow can be out with a Venti Iced Americano with extra ice and a glazed donut, but I might still be lacking what I need the most – Christ. Others weren’t always meant to count on me or on what I have to offer them. I am not God, so saying I can’t help you move today or I can’t stay late at work today isn’t a bad thing. We can’t always meet others needs, and we weren’t meant to… I wasn’t meant to; I’m not God.

We live in a fallen world, there will always be more to do than we possibly can and more needs than we can possibly meet, so what do we do with that. What could I do with $900 monthly support as a missionary in South America, when there are tens of thousands of people hungry each day? I can’t feed them all. I don’t know that I have the answer to that and I often grow weary because I labor against that and try to pretend I don’t live in a fallen world, but I’ve had to think through this a lot recently, and this is what I’ve come up with. This is what I do when I see needs or wishes I cannot meet:

1. I admit that I am not God. I confess my desire to be everything to everyone and I confess that I am not the Messiah and was never intended to be. I recognize that God doesn’t need me.

2. I recognize that faithfulness looks different every day and do what I need to do in that moment to be faithful. I don’t think I have been doing this, but this is what I need to be doing and what I finally, praise God, did today.

3. Pray for the need I can’t meet. Admit my weakness and inability and God’s infinite ability.

4. Pray for the person in need. Pray that God would teach them a dependence on Him. If they aren’t saved, I pray He would save them through the need. If they are saved, I pray for endurance and faith in the midst of difficulty.

5. Pray that God would meet the need in a way that would bring glory to Him and not to me or someone else. I pray that He would use me, if He desires, but in a way that the glory would be His.

6. I remind myself that other’s greatest needs are ones you can’t meet and that the physical need like a car, a job, etc., is secondary. I can’t change the heart, increase  faith, cure  bitterness, save, etc.

7. Trust God. Reflect on His creative power, His love, His goodness, and His sovereignty.

Some of these things I have thought about and are still working at implementing in my life. (Acts 14:22; Philippians 3:12; James 1:3-4)



Missions, Evangelism, and Counseling
July 16, 2008, 6:59 pm
Filed under: Counseling, missions

I’ve been wondering how my course work for studying biblical counseling intersected with my desire to minister oversees. I’ve seen a great need in my own life to know my heart, in order to diagnose and deal with my sin. I’ve also noticed a need for this in the church today. I still wondered is it worth the delay to learn this. Yes! It definitely is. Counseling and Missions aren’t two separate, disjointed things. They share the same end, the same purpose. They are both dealing with creating worshippers, creating disciples. We all worship something. The goal of missions is to point people, who have perverted their worship from the living God and who worship other things, to Christ. In counseling we are helping to reorient the sinner from the sin which they have placed above God as an idol from that idol and back to God. The great commission is not “Go tell people about Jesus”; it is “Go make disciples… teaching them to observe all that I have commanded”. Counseling is one part of discipleship. My studies are very relevant to where I would like to be in the future. An added bonus is its relevence to my own personal life.