Pandora is one of my best wise counselors. During our time in Egypt we were discussing some opportunities to serve with some other ministries. We both agreed the new open doors fit in our focus for this chapter of our life. She shared with me, “Roy God does not do rabbit trails. We need to look for the convergence; how God is fitting these puzzle pieces together.”
That wisdom has set me reflecting before the Lord for his perspective on our life. Where do we sense God’s converging work? I see it as the Lord mixing baking dough. As he dusts the dough with a new ingredient he gently works the dough with his hands until it is consistently worked through.
For us the dough seems to have two primary ingredients; individual people and ideas. In the past month I have spent time with four different leaders in churches and ministries. After our time they would share how helpful the time was and how they had greater clarity for moving forward. YES! The Spirit showed up and used me to deliver some of what they needed. It is fun to deliver God’s mail.
The doors opening for Pandora use her rich background in special education but often branch off in other life on life conversations and burdens to pray for others.
In recent months I have received encouragement and opportunities to do some additional writing projects. Pandora is creating new presentations and also developing tools for consulting. It seems God is letting us share ideas from what we are learning here and overseas with the people who share our journey.
So — Convergence for us is quality time with individuals and capturing, distilling and sharing ideas.
How about you? What does convergence look like for your life? What needs to be pruned or started?
I just returned from spending most of August overseas with Pandora. We served the church in the North Africa region working with children, youth and adults from Egypt and Sudan.
We experienced delay on our flights home that resulted with arriving in Myrtle Beach a day late. Just a few days later I left for Tennessee to assist my parents who are living in daily uncertainty in a nursing home. Near the end of the visit news of hurricane Florence came out and I rushed home (8 hour drive) to help Pandora prepare our home for the storm. Now we are evacuated with our two dogs to be sit out the storm with our family in Columbia.
I struggle with uncertainty and not being sure when we will be back on a normal schedule for a few days. And yet I just came from a region of the world where everyone I walked with lived with much greater uncertainty than I ever encounter.
Some live in a war zone and hate to hear a gunshot or a plane fly overhead.
Some live in an area of contamination of the water and a shortage of food.
Many live with only have a paying job one day at a time.
Everyone lived with currency devaluation and extreme price increases. It is not unusual for prices to go up 3 to 4x the starting price in less than a year.
And yet — they sing. They worship. They serve with great energy and passion. They keep moving forward with the Gospel. They are filled with joy and peace most of the time. They struggle but do not focus on it. They expect this life to be a struggle and live for the hope in Christ.
UNCERTAINTY HUMBLES ME — AND I FIND MOST OF THE TIME I STRUGGLE WITH BENDING MY KNEES AND TRUSTING IN MY GOD. THANK GOD FOR HIS MERCY!
In June I celebrated the 46 year anniversary since my spiritual birth which God did at a conference of 85,000 people in Dallas TX — known as Explo 72.
I will use my story to seek to underline the ESSENTIAL and SIMPLE core of making disciples. How did God take a teen who thought he was a Christian because he occasionally attended a church and change his life forever?
#1 — Bud and Peggy Pettigrew acted on what seemed like a good idea at the time to help the youth group in the church they attended in Tennessee, raise funds to go to a conference in Texas. Out of that conference several of us became Christians and gave our lives to Jesus to “Come Help Change the World”.
#2 — About a month later two young adults, Esther Cowan and Billy McCoy, made a 2 hour drive to encourage us with the Bible and prayer to go to a follow up conference for those who had attended Explo. Several of the youth and leaders went and many of us began a consistent daily journey of walking with Jesus in the power of the Holy Spirit.
I will stop here with these two examples. As I have been giving thanks over what happened 46 years ago there are many, many more stories.
How do these actions focus us on the ESSENTIAL CORE of making disciples?
People who were Jesus followers:
- Were aware God had entrusted them with some life changing truth in Jesus.
- Opened letters and read about an opportunity to give what God had entrusted with them.
- A letter sent in 1971 described a conference in Dallas and it became a dream, a goal burning in Bud and Peggy’s heart.
- A letter sent in June 1972, right after the conference, contained the addresses of some of the Explo attendees. It was delivered to the Campus Crusade workers asking them to make a visit.
- Stepped out by faith, invested some of their time taking what God had given to them, and offered it to us.
- Filled with the love of Jesus, they planted seeds into the soil of others’ hearts.
- God gave the growth!
Let’s not make disciple making too complex. Here are some questions to revisit continually as you go through a day.
What has God entrusted to me? What can I say, “I cannot imagine facing life without this grace, this truth, THIS life I have received through Jesus.” NAME some of the specific blessings.
What is God doing around me right now? What hearts has God given me some access to, some influence over, some opportunity, so I may offer to share what has given me life.
Ask God for the faith to step over any fear, the hope to endure, and the love of generous sacrifice to sow the seed.
Know that your God will give the growth.
You may or may not get to see the fruit that comes from your seed but sow it anyway.
It may not seem to be warmly valued and received in the moment but sow it anyway.
You may feel very uncertain where this step will lead to tomorrow but sow it anyway.
You may feel unqualified, and can think of others who would be better suited for the task, but sow it anyway.
SOW THE SEED GOD HAS GIVEN TO YOU AND LET HIM GIVE THE GROWTH!
It is a glorious freeing, joyful and scary way to live but you will see the final result of the work of God, that included your small seed, when you are with Jesus.
I WELCOME YOUR COMMENTS OR QUESTIONS.
When you first wake up.
“Lord, Thanks for the sleep. By your indwelling Spirit open my eyes and ears to see and hear answers to prayer as I go through my day. A phone call, email, mail or conversation may reveal an answer to one of my prayers. Or, perhaps one of these moments contains the gift of answering someone else’s prayer! Please help me to be present and alert to your touch on my life. Amen.”
What is your first morning thought prayer?
A common challenge for the Ministry Leaders and Business Executives I coach is how they can learn from their daily encounters and experiences. The art of reflection is often neglected in the push to add another meeting or another appointment to the day.
Yet I am often reminded of the words of my mentor Dr. Bobbie Clinton, “The number one reason leaders fail to finish well is they plateau.” They stop growing.
Here is a simple way to stay in a learning mode which will allow you to make better decisions and relate to the challenges and relationships in your life with wisdom and discernment. You must create the space by hitting the pause button and reflecting on a short period of time. Once a week will not work. Too much is forgotten and goes stale before you can gain from it. Instead install a “startup” and “shut down” rhythm to your day. Here is a suggested pattern I use. It has been refined over the years as I borrow ideas from other leaders.
A PRACTICAL TOOL TO HELP REFINE, STRETCH, and CORRECT YOUR PERSPECTIVE:
The shutdown ritual should be they last commitment in your work day. Set the appointment with yourself in a quiet area. The same technique is very helpful as a recovery and buffer pause to capture key learnings after a messy challenging encounter.
SHUT DOWN APPOINTMENT WITH YOURSELF:
(10 to 30 minutes) at the end of each work day or right after a strategic meeting.
Use a consistent tool to capture your thoughts as you examine your day. Consistent capture tools may be 3×5 cards, a written journal or private document online.
QUESTIONS TO ASSIST YOU IN REFLECTION:
What did I see today about individuals with whom I had interaction?
What did I see today about our culture? (NOTE PLUSES AND MINUSES)
What di I see about myself today?
What do I offer up in thanks to God?
What do I lay before God in confident faith he will provide the way forward?
How do we want people work together differently?
Based on what happened today what 3 things do I need to do tomorrow and what do I change in my daily plan for tomorrow to create space for these actions?
PART OF THE SHUT DOWN RITUAL IS TO RETURN THE GIFT OF THE DAY BACK TO THE ONE WHO GAVE IT TO YOU.
LAST ACTION BEFORE YOU LEAVE YOUR WORK DAY…
HANDS — PALMS DOWN ON DESK.
THANK GOD FOR LETTING YOU STEWARD THE DAY.
TRUST HIM FOR GRACE AND STRENGTH TO BRING FRUIT AND GROWTH FROM TODAY’S WORK FOR HIS GLORY. GIVE THE DAY BACK TO HIM.
Once you have the shutdown routine in your rhythm add a “start up” routine
When you first wake up in the morning turn on to your back and look up. Raise both arms with hands palm up to God.
A sample prayer could be: “Father thank you for the rest during the night and now you are offering me a new day to manage. Today is a (work day, play day, rest day, family day, etc., define the major purpose for this day). You have gifted me with this day. Help me to be a good steward and invest it for eternal reward.”
Caution yourself to not pollute the day. If it is a work day don’t lose focus and waste time tracking your teams online. If it is a rest day do not pollute it with work. You get the idea.
Now begin a “perspective” and “getting current” mini-retreat
Read David Allen’s GTD – Getting Things Done book for an excellent overview of a weekly check in. To his words I would add these ideas. In a period of a storm of major changes you need this mini-retreat once a week. Let me suggest you set aside 1/2 of a day to fast, pray, rest, and look back over the recent days by reviewing your daily shut down notes and review your commitments to see if you have not drifted off course.
If you are not in a storm of change you may be able to do the mini-retreat every 4 to 6 weeks.
The most important person you lead is yourself . Poor decisions are made in a reactive rather than reflective mode. It requires discipline to engage in a time of pausing and reflecting which creates space for your thinking and feeling to get to an inner quiet and hear from God. Those who seek him and his wisdom do grow and develop confidence and contentment in their leadership.
The life as a Jesus follower is a journey from being declared with right standing before God to experiencing the reality of our new identity in Christ. Anxiety about the past failures, or the future unknowns, fear of the present challenges, a sense of weakness and uncertainty are all rooted in a lack of living in our identity in Christ.
Suggestion: CLICK HERE AND DOWNLOAD A PDF. This is a list of statements and Bible passages on Who We Are In Christ by John Stumbo. Take the first statement. Read the passage 3 times very slowly. Then, in your journal record your answer to this question. “If this truth was guiding my life today how would I see differently?”
Let me know your thoughts. Let’s live out of what we believe in 2018!
One of the joys of being a leadership coach is entering into the lives of those you serve. Right now I have 10 clients that I meet with 1 more times each month. Some live in the US but now I have some in Egypt and Dubai.
My Dubai friend is a young musician and loves to train others to lead God’s people in worship and also use songwriting as a platform to build redemptive relationships with those far from God. So, here is some of his music for you to enjoy when sitting by the fire or enjoying the lights on the tree.