opportunity

Transitions in Life and Ministry

Photo credit: DeathtotheStockPhoto The past several months brought the reality of transition back into focus for me. Ten years ago, I began a long, even difficult time of transition—in life and ministry.

Living on the other side of the world, life seemed more simple. It was often busy overseeing two full-time ministries, with leadership involvement in our local home church.

It was a full life with plenty of challenges, yet it was simple. My purpose in life was clear.

A major change in life

Life on this side of the earth (FL) was full of busyness, but my purpose was not so clear. Some things were quite clear. We moved back to the US to care for my parents.

But I went from a person of importance in ministry to near anonymity. For the first time in a long time, I wasn't doing what I was gifted and called to do by God, or so it seemed. I also wasn't in charge of any ministry except at a distance.

After about a year or so, I found a place to serve in a local church body. Finally, I was able to employ some of my ministry gifts, which was good. But our first year back was very difficult. At least three different full-time ministry opportunities evaporated.

Learning a new thing

After a few more years, I began to write and eventually self-published a book. This was something I wanted to do for many years, but it also was a great challenge. I found out that writing is a lot different from speaking.

I learned a new craft and it was a sharp learning curve for me. I also went out to search for a regular job to pay the bills, which also was a challenge. I found out there wasn't a big market for a former church planter and missionary like myself.

Learning a new way

Presently, it seems I'm in a new time of transition. I'm learning a new way of putting to work the gifts and calling of God. It's a new phase of walking by faith.

Right now, I'm enjoying it. I like the challenge and have a renewed sense of vision. I work at keeping expectations realistic, which includes managing my time and energy in a different way.

The nature of transitions

This seems to be the nature of transitions. They are a time full of challenges and change. Things are different, unfamiliar, and sometimes bewildering.

Handling transition well is both simple and complex. A big part of doing it well depends on our attitude and outlook. Do we see transition as an opportunity or obstacle?

A balancing act

Over the past several months, I've been helping others navigate transitions. My role requires an objective view of things, while drawing on past experience. It's kind of a balancing act. I can't just fall back on how I've done things before, but I still draw from my experience.

I'm learning that a good mentor or coach needs to learn how to adapt what they know from experience and apply it in different ways, different situations, and with different people.

We're all different. We have different gifts and skills and experience. And yet, many things are similar. Management is management in various fields of work or ministry. People are people, work is work, and God is ever faithful.

Navigating transitions in life and ministry requires a genuine walk of faith, if we want to do it well.


What are some of the life or ministry transitions you've gone through?

How have you navigated them so far?

What would you do differently or wished you'd known going into a transition?

 

How to Be an Evangelist—Without Really Trying

Photo credit: www.deathtothestockphoto.com/ What comes to mind when you hear the word evangelist? Do you think of a fiery preacher challenging you to "Repent!"? Nowadays that might be more of a caricature than common occurrence.

How about the words personal evangelism? Do you shudder at the thought of going out to witness with gospel tracts?

If the idea of personal evangelism or trying to be an evangelist doesn't appeal to you, keep reading! There is a way to share your faith in a personal, natural and easy way.

Calling, commitment, and a command

I know a young man who has a gift and boldness to engage people in conversation about Jesus and offer to pray for them. I have friends who go into neighborhoods every couple of weeks to knock on doors and share the gospel. A neighbor friend of mine often goes out on a roadside with a placard that reads, "Jesus loves you!"

I admire my friends for their commitment and calling. I've done similar things, but it is not my personal calling. My oldest son and I traveled to Scotland on an evangelistic outreach many years ago. It was a great time of ministry, and it helped confirm that I am not an evangelist.

I'm called to disciple people.

And yet, what is called the Great Commission (Matt 28:19; Mark 16:15; Luke 24:47-48; Acts 1:8) is not an optional suggestion, it is a command. The apostle Paul told Timothy to, "...do the work of an evangelist...." (2 Tim 4:5 NKJV).

So, there is a responsibility for every believer to share their faith with others. Even when it's not our calling, we can commit to do something, even when it doesn't come easily.

But, if evangelism is not your thing, here are some thoughts on how to be an evangelist without really trying.

Keep it simple

  • Start with what you know—your own life story
  • Don't worry about what you don't know
  • Stick to what you know and engage people at that point
  • Find a story in the Bible that relates to your own life story

Keep it personal

  • Engage people by asking them about themselves
  • Find a common point of interest or connection as you talk with people
  • Think of a story that connects with the person's life you have engaged to talk
  • Use plain and simple words and avoid using Christianese

Keep alert for opportunities

  • Look for opportunities in everyday life
  • Get more familiar with various stories in the Bible
  • Pray and trust God for opportunities to engage people in conversation
  • Follow up with the people with whom you share your faith

Give it a try

Over the next few weeks, I hope to dig into each of these thoughts in more depth. The broad view of it can be summed up in these three admonitions—keep it simple, keep it personal, and keep open and be ready.

I've posted on this general idea of sharing your faith before, but want to be more instructive with these new posts.

Here are a couple of posts I hope will be helpful to you—

Need Some Help on How to Share Your Faith?

Need Some Help on How to Share Your Faith? (Part 2)

How Does Your Story Connect with God's Story?

Tell me what you think—

What are your experiences with sharing your faith?

What are the challenges you've faced with sharing your faith?

Thanks for reading and please feel free to share this post with others!

Character and Work Are Rewarded

Photo credit: lightstock.com

Poverty is a controversial and sometimes contentious subject. Some see it as the result of laziness or lack of motivation. Others think it is a cultural blight that can be erased. But, as typical, extreme views overlook reality.

My experience living overseas gave me a broader view of the condition of poverty. I found that many who are poor work hard and live on next to nothing.

Another major factor with poverty is political oppression and lack of economic opportunity. And yet, an overlooked issue is character—what a person values and what they do with what they have.

Scripture

Better to be an ordinary person with a servant than to be self-important but have no food. The godly care for their animals, but the wicked are always cruel. A hard worker has plenty of food, but a person who chases fantasies has no sense. Thieves are jealous of each other’s loot, but the godly are well rooted and bear their own fruit. The wicked are trapped by their own words, but the godly escape such trouble. Wise words bring many benefits, and hard work brings rewards. [vss 9-14]

Work hard and become a leader; be lazy and become a slave. Worry weighs a person down; an encouraging word cheers a person up. The godly give good advice to their friends; the wicked lead them astray. Lazy people don’t even cook the game they catch, but the diligent make use of everything they find. The way of the godly leads to life; that path does not lead to death. [vss 24-28]

(Proverbs 12:9-14; 24-28 GW) [Context– Proverbs 12]

Key phrase

Wise words bring many benefits, and hard work brings rewards.

Digging Deeper...

  1. What are the contrasts expressed in the first few verses? How are these contrasting persons characterized?
  2. What good qualities and benefits do you see related to work and good character?
  3. What are the contrasting actions and words in the last few verses?
  4. What are the good traits and benefits connected to the godly and those who work hard?

Reflection...

Good character is not limited by economics. It's not hindered nor weakened by poverty or riches. It's not based on circumstances. Godly character is rooted in the wisdom of God and a respect for God.

This respect is based on a genuine trust in God. A trust not only in God's existence, but confidence that God rewards those who trust in Him. True godly character elevates a person above their circumstances, whether poverty or wealth.

Make it personal...

How much do your circumstances affect what you value in life?

Do worry and anxieties in life outweigh your trust in God?

Do you take pride in doing your work well in whatever you do?

How confident are you that God rewards hard work and doing what is right?