Missional Marriage: 10 Practical Ways to Serve Other People

My husband, Jeremiah, and I always had a desire for our marriage to make a  difference in the lives of others. We knew that God brought us together for a greater purpose beyond “us.”

Early in our marriage we had the opportunity to serve in an apartment ministry together. Our responsibilities were to facilitate community among residents, build relationships, host dinners and events, and share the love of Christ. We invested in our residents for two years and most of them were non-Christians…

Continue Reading over on StartMarriageRight.com… I’d love to hear your thoughts over there!

On Sailing… and Serving Others With Your Gifts & Passions

On Saturday, I surprised Jeremiah with a boat ride for his birthday. We boarded a beautiful wooden catamaran that seated about 30 people. Scott was our captain. He was super friendly and we knew we were in for a treat on the lake. It was just what we needed after a stressful week.
About 30 minutes into our sail, Scott came by to accept our payment. Jeremiah initiated a conversation with Scott on how he got involved in sailing.

“I got on the computer and Googled ‘how to build a boat,’ ” he said.

“I found all the necessary resources and started building. I never dreamed I’d be taking 35 trips a week and that my business would grow like this…”

Then he said something profound that stuck with both of us:

“I think it’s important to find what you love to do and serve others through it.”

You could tell that Scott had what he wanted in life. He’d been married to his wife of 30+ years, his children were grown and doing well, and he was doing what he absolutely loved. But not only that, he was blessing the lives of a lot of people- every week.

Scott takes a shot of us behind the wheel

During the remainder of the trip, I thought about how God distributes gifts to people and how the purpose of those gifts are to edify and equip the Church. So often it’s easy to get caught up in the what-my-gift-will-do-for-me kind of mentality.

But it’s not about that at all. Certainly, our gifts and passions draw us closer to God, make us come alive, and give us meaning and purpose. But our gifts aren’t supposed to be hoarded and hidden inside our own little box.

We’re supposed to give our gifts away. And if we think anything different, we’re missing the boat.

I don’t know if you’ve found your gift or the one thing you want to spend your life doing. I don’t know if you’re discouraged in that pursuit or if you believe you have something to contribute to this world.

But what I do know is God created you for a purpose and that involves building into the lives of others.

You have something to offer that no one else does and other people need you to draw out your gifts, however that might look and whatever risks that might involve.

When you view your gifts with an outwardly-focused kind of mentality, your life will change drastically. Your perspective will shift off of yourself and onto how God can use you to make a difference in the lives of others.

In middle school, I started journaling. It was how I felt closest to the Lord and it was the easiest way for me to write out my prayers and remember them. It also came natural, just like the assignments did in my Creative Writing classes. After receiving my first publishing contract in college (7 or so journals later), I realized that God was starting to call me out of my comfort zone of personal journaling and into riskier territory of writing for an actual audience.

As the years passed and I started writing for other publications and eventually writing Bible study curriculum for churches across the country, I realized even more that writing was my number 1 passion. But the best thing about it was that I could use my writing to serve and encourage other people and help build God’s kingdom. My focus, including my goals, started to shift. Still today, I’m learning what it means to be outwardly-focused and I’ve found so much joy in the journey.

“Find what you love and serve others.”

I’ll always remember the wisdom Captain Scott imparted to us that evening and I hope it will encourage you too.

*From the Archives*- You Might Also Enjoy Reading…

Daring to Risk a Little More

The Joy of Being on Mission

Five Minutes to Let It Shine

Give Yourself Away

 

 

 

What I saw in Whole Foods

Last week I went to Whole Foods to grab some drinks and trail mix for our afternoon at the lake. I hurried to the express lane and waited behind a heavy-set woman with long, tangly light brown hair sitting in a power scooter. She was digging through her purse trying to find the exact change.

The cashier rolled her eyes waiting for her. The people behind me stood impatiently and it was one of those moments where all eyes were on this lady including my own. I was thinking, Are you serious? Come on. I started to judge her based on her appearance and grew impatient with her.

There was another checkout station in front of her so I was called to that one. The lady continued rummaging through her big purse. I started to realize that my attitude had been wrong towards her. I needed to serve her. So I asked, “Do you need any money?”

I thought that maybe she couldn’t find any. The cashier looked at her for a response. “Oh, no. I’m fine,” she replied in a drawn out voice. I nodded my head, said okay and headed back to the car.

On the way to the lake I started to wonder if that lady was a beautiful, savvy, well-dressed woman who stood tall, if she would have been treated differently. I thought about how I didn’t have a servant’s heart initially. I followed Christ and needed to have patience towards her.

I look at what’s on the outside way too much and form my opinions and conclusions. I sometimes esteem someone greater because of their good looks or awesome abilities. But how shallow is that? I know the cliche that beauty is only skin deep.

Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart. – 1 Sam. 16:7

The heart is where we find the whole person: the thoughts, the motives, the sin, the hurts, the struggles, the hopes, the dreams, and the joys. The heart is where the wellspring of life is kept and it is a most precious thing.

The outward appearance, whether beautiful or ugly, can deceive. I’ve had my own days where I kept a certain image on the outside, but inwardly I was experiencing pain no one else knew. Outwardly, I’d smile, laugh, and continue to act how I wanted to be. But there was something more to the story.

It was definitely frustrating to wait in line behind this lady, but who knows what she was going through and  where she stood with God. Why would her appearance then matter so much? The bottom line is that God is her Creator. She was made in His image and has needs like all of us. She needs the gospel lived out in her life like all of us. She needs to be shown patience and compassion.

So who am I to think I am any better? The make-up on my face, my sporty outfit, and nice purse don’t show a full picture of my heart. Frankly, they don’t really mean anything.

I’ve been called by God to love and serve all people, especially those who seem difficult to love. And while I feel very far from this, I’m thankful God can help me do it.

I never got to know this lady at all and I hope she found her change, but God used that incident to help show me what’s in my own heart. I pray God will bring more people into my life like that so he can use them to help change me.

Tyler Merrick & Project 7

I’m always inspired by individuals who take risks for the sake of being obedient to God’s call. Tyler Merrick left his family business in Amarillo three years ago and moved to Dallas to start Project 7a consumer goods company that gives 50% of their profits to seven areas of need around the world.

Maybe you’ve seen some of their products in Whole Foods, Books-a-Million, Caribou Coffee and other stores. I love what Tyler and his team are doing, but even more so I love that he views his business as ministry.

That’s mainly what we talked about when I interviewed him on the phone yesterday for a project at work. He told me about the disconnect he saw between his professional life and personal ministry. He said, “I wanted the marketplace to be my mission field.” And so it has. With the platform God has given him, he’s had countless opportunities to build relationships and share his faith all over the country as the founder of Project 7.

And Tyler is making such a huge impact for the kingdom without being on staff at a church.

So how can you help? Check out this list of where Project 7 products are sold and go buy some bottled water, gum, mints, or a T-shirt so you can make a positive change in the world. Last night, I checked out the water aisle at our local Whole Foods, and found a  Project 7 water bottle. The writing on it read HELP THOSE IN NEED. It was so exciting to purchase, and then give back.

http://vimeo.com/4263078

Consumerism and the American Dream

To help people trade in the pursuit of the American Dream for a world that desperately needs Christ.

This is the mission statement behind the work I do every day for RightNow, Bluefish TV, and Small Group Trader.

Our passion is to create Traders. A trader is a new kind of missionary not defined by geography but by a resolve to: Choose Daily, Hate Injustice, Work as Worship, and Act Swiftly by using his or her time, skills and money to impact the world for Christ.

Our 3 strategies for making traders is to inspire church leaders, transform small groups, and coach individuals.

As a writer and editor on our team for our Bible study curriculum, articles, and more, my role in our ministry is fleshed out mainly in inspiring church leaders and transforming small groups. I have to tell you though that every day, I’m challenged and inspired by our mission here. In a culture that is all about consumerism, self-focused leadership, and “what’s in it for me?” (yep in church culture too), I’ve been challenged to really consider what the American Dream means in my personal life.

The truth is that the American Dream was once about opportunity, but it has evolved into a “more” and “me” way of life. More house, more car, more money, more everything. And I have to regularly ask myself, do those things control me? Even in the smaller things like getting a Starbucks drink, buying clothes, or household things, I’m becoming more aware of my motives and realizing that sometimes I just buy things because I can or maybe even because I feel entitled to.

But through a process, I really desire change and to trade in those pursuits in order to give my life away for the sake of other people and for the gospel. And this is no easy task because I’m so s-e-l-f-i-s-h and sometimes I love my agenda more than people. I think when we truly grasp all that is at stake when we cling tightly to the American Dream, our lives are changed and we can’t go back. And life is just too short to live it for ourselves.

Over the past few years, my husband and I have both traded in time, comfort, and sleep to provide meals and community activities to our apartment residents every week and through that experience, I learned more than ever what it means to trade in my life. Since I’ve tasted what being a trader is about, I don’t really want to live life any other way. But I recognize I will always need God’s help in order to be a trader.

Have you thought about the idea of being a “trader”? Are you trading in anything right now or would like to in the future?

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nql4hb9G3Ns&feature=player_embedded]

When faith has action

For quite a while now, I’ve been praying for God to help me live out my faith on a day to day basis (in the mundane details of life). Sometimes I feel like I have a lot inside me, but I don’t know how to give it away. I’m impatient with the Lord and wonder why more opportunities don’t exist to be a light.

Well yesterday, Jeremiah and I went for a walk to the park with John. We put John in his favorite swing and noticed a young man walking our way with three kids. He positioned his twin toddlers in their swings next to us and his older daughter went off to play on the slide. He managed to have his eye on all of them, but he did look tired.

We introduced ourselves and started talking about random stuff. He lived in the lofts off in the distance. Jeremiah engaged with him more so I decided to go play with his kids on the slides. During that time, Jeremiah learned that he was divorced with a lot on his shoulders taking care of three kids and working a lucrative job. It was neat to see him really open up.

When it was time for him to go, I asked Jeremiah if we should give him our number if he ever needed someone to help out with his kids. He nodded, so I went up to him as he was getting his kids situated.

“Hey I know we just met and you don’t know us well, but we’d love to help watch your kids sometime.”

I was nervous about his reaction but his eyes lit up. “Really? That would be such a help. Thank you so much.”

He then asked us to text him our number. He told his kids to tell us goodbye- they were adorable. 30 minutes later, we got a text back saying how he would probably be spent by the end of the week. We told him we were available Saturday to help him out. I couldn’t believe how quickly we were going to be able to help!

Initially it was tempting to not act on the need we saw. This guy didn’t know us at all. But I think the issue wasn’t really him, but us. Would we extend a hand? Yesterday really helped me see that God uses us to help bring his love to people. And to me, that is just amazing that he would use us (in spite of our shortcomings).

I’m thankful that a Monday evening at the park is going to turn into more opportunities to serve…

Being on Mission with Your Children- Part 1

This is part one of a two-part series called “Being on Mission with Your Children.” Part one will consist of being a Mommy on Mission and part two will deal with being a Daddy on Mission. I encourage you to read both parts.

Kelly Sauer‘s Twitter bio caught my attention the other day. It read: I dream big and change diapers.

I just love that and it made me think of a little mission statement that’s been ringing in my head since I’ve been re-reading a book I had to read for my Child Developmental Psychology class in college called The Power of Mother Love.

My new-found mission is: I want to change the world, one diaper at a time.

To tell you the truth, however, I didn’t know this would be my desire until God gave me my son John.

I’m learning that he is my mission. He is 15 months old so of course he doesn’t know it yet, but how I give my love away to him now will profoundly influence and shape his life and character and ultimately, who he will become one day.

Many of you know that I’m fresh into being a mommy so I’m not a pro, but I’ve found a little secret that’s helping me to be “on mission” with him each day and to value, above anything else, the importance of who I am to my child.

This might seem way too obvious, but it starts with Slowing Down.

It requires a lot of intentionality on my part to see the world how John is seeing it, to get off my computer or i-Phone, to stop doing the dishes or the laundry, or worrying about this or that, but to really be all there with him. He invites me in to his world every time and his world is already at a much slower pace than mine. The choice is if I will choose to be still, within my own spirit, and embrace his world with him.

I’ve found that when I’m still and engage with him, I’m able to meet his deepest emotional needs by letting him know I hear his words and see each little step he makes. We’re able to capture moments together like when he first says “t-e-n-k you” or learns how to eat a peanut butter and jelly sandwich on his own. Or when he’s offering to kiss me on the cheek or give me “that look” when he needs something. I can sense his needs easier and I’m there to nurture him whenever he needs it. And he always has a way of knowing whether I’m fully there or not.

My love is more available when I slow down.

Being on Mission as Mommy’s starts with slowing down, to where we are meeting our children’s deepest emotional needs, but that is not the end, it’s the means to the end where we’re slowing down so that we can best live out our faith and instill biblical truth into their lives.

In a hectic, over-worked, disorganized schedule it’s difficult to be all there and live out our faith in front of our children. Nine times out of ten, over commitment results in frustration, anger, restlessness, impatience, depleting quiet times and prayer and we end up not being who we want to be. I’ve been there and it has affected my home. I’m convinced that the tiniest moments of slowing down will help define the huge moments of how our children will grow and come to salvation in the Lord later on.

Of course, their salvation is an act only by God, but we have a huge part to play in how they view and love God for the rest of their lives. What a challenge and responsibility, but what a joy and privilege to help lead them to the cross and have them join us in God’s mission.

If you’re a mommy, and like me, have been wondering where your ministry is and how you can best serve God, remember that you are on mission right where you are, the best place you could ever be…

In your home.

The place where you were meant to help change the world, one diaper at a time.

Will you join me in this mission?

Question: What are some other ways you’re giving your love away and being “on mission” in your home?

Why Chick-fil-a is the best Chain Restaurant Ever

In my opinion, no greater restaurant chain exists than Chick-fil-a. I don’t eat fast food barely at all, but if I do it’s Chick-fil-a.

They’ve probably asked you the same question at the drive-in: “How may I serve you?” Just look at that question and its contrast with “Can I take your order?” like you would experience at a Wendy’s or a Taco Bell.

I’ve always been greeted with a smile at Chick-fil-a and a readiness to refill my sweet tea. This kind of service is just unmatchable. This morning, I was running behind and grabbed a chicken biscuit from them and once again, they delivered their best and helped get my morning off to a better start. On my way to work, I started thinking about Chick-fil-a and Christianity. (as I often think about random connections while driving down the interstate).

I really want to serve those I come in contact with every day and be genuine about it. To greet them with a smile, look them in the eyes, and say their name. I want to genuinely seek to meet their needs whatever they might be. And it’s my hope that when I’m gone, a lasting mark would be made and they would know when they see me again, that I am one who seeks to serve.

S. Truett Cathy, you had it right.

Tim Hawkins wrote a song about his obsession:

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NsJHqstPuNo]

The Greatest Gift

your-word-is-a-lampBeing a new mom, I’ve definitely been thinking about the legacy I want to leave and the kind of gifts I want to give my children. I think the greatest gift I could give to John and Jeremiah is to be a wife and mother who is consistently in God’s Word. Here’s why:

1.) God’s Word penetrates the heart- changing us. While the places you go, the people you meet, and the books you read do that too, it is His word that  is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart (Hebrews 4:12). Through the Holy Spirit, God’s word speaks to us, showing us how to walk and revealing the love story of Christ.

2.) God’s Word helps us see our sin, leading us to confession. Jonathan Edwards said, “Confession is the detergent of the soul.” While we must be careful not to be legalistic or ritualistic about confessing our offenses to God, a daily acknowledgment of our sin is critical so that it doesn’t harbor day after day. God’s word is like a mirror showing me who I really am. Helping me see the sin I don’t always see.

3.) God’s Word encourages us to be all that we can for Christ and His glory. While worship, church, prayer, and fellowship with others do that, it is His word that gives us the greater hope and perseverance to continue on in this difficult life. To glorify him with my heart, body, soul, and mind. His Word is my number one fan, helping me to press on and reminding me that I’m not crazy!

4.) God’s Word Challenges me to Selflessness and to Serving others. When I see that I am nothing a part from Christ, and that only he can make me self-less, I’m encouraged all the more to be the person I need to be for my family. I long to serve them through my actions and words. To build my house, and not tear it down with my  hands.

Growing up, my Mom was a woman who meditated on and loved the Bible. That was the greatest gift she gave to me… and to my whole family.

How has His word been a gift in your life?

Switch to mobile version