• Our hope-filled future is bound up in sharing the story of Jesus, in discipling others, in bringing those disciples together into communities of believers, and in developing and releasing those believers to create other communities... till Jesus the King comes again!

Why I love boards

Some of you read that title and thought, “Is he nuts?”  For most oboring board meetingf us, the topic of boards and board meetings is particularly dull.  Nothing could feel more unpalatable to our spiritual souls than sitting through a ‘bored’ meeting.

No, I do not believe I am ‘nuts’ to think that boards and board meetings are worth a second look.  And this past weekend reaffirmed my ‘love’ of boards.

I spent Saturday morning and some of the afternoon with people like Ray, Cedric, Tom and Anthony.  Several markers of that time together stood out for me.

One marker was time.  These four, along with others, gave up precious time from their full-time jobs to spend a day hearing about WT ministries, making decisions to remove obstacles which might hinder those ministries, and praying for those ministries.  If they didn’t believe in World Team, they wouldn’t choose to spend a Saturday in a board meeting when they could have been doing something else.

A second marker was insight. The various boards of WT and our partners are made up of people who bring incredible insight to the table; people who see things differently then we as cross cultural workers.  Ray made one comment during our conversations which was my primary ‘take-away’ from the meeting.  Up to that point, I had never even considered the insight that he shared.

The third marker was shared vision.  I wish I could come up with a better phrase, but these four are thrilled to be part of what WT is doing in the world, thrilled to be able to contribute in some way to helping WT accomplish its vision, thrilled to be standing behind us as cross cultural workers.  If they said it once, they said it at least five different times during our meeting: “We share the vision of World Team Global“.

Let me suggest two small follow up steps.  First, I would encourage each Ministry Support Centre board to put together a short photo/bio on each board member and send it to all members of the WT global community.  Second, I would encourage each of us to drop a short note of thanks to one board member.

Maybe that will help us begin to understand what boards and board members give to us as a World Team global community.

The impact of words

We can say that we know the impact that words can have on others, but our actual practice of speaking to one another often reveals how much we underestimate that influence. Words are powerful conveyors not only of important messages, but also of honor, value and worth. Most of the examples that might come to mind are of the hurt or pain that words can cause.  Yet, there are other examples of how words build up, value or challenge another for the good. Power-of-words-front1

Paul in his letter to his spiritual son, Timothy, wrote this: “Timothy, my son, I give you this instruction in keeping with the prophecies once made about you, so that by following them you may fight the good fight.”  (1 Timothy1:18)  Those ‘prophecies’ or ‘prophetic words’ refer to divinely charged words or statements shared with another. They are often the fruit of prayerful meditation and time taken before speaking.

I’m sure that many of us can remember, even state, the words spoken that influenced us towards ministry, and towards cross cultural ministry. Reflecting on those times when others spoke those ‘divinely charged words’ into our lives, emboldens us to have that same approach or attitude towards others.

A fellow co-worker shared this quote with me one time: “I have been trying to evolve an ecology of speech, a way with words that is hospitable to life. This includes learning to talk and to be silent at the right times and places, being careful to remember the capacity of words to have an afterlife once they have fallen into the soil of our own or other people’s lives.  Do they create a fertile, balanced humus in which new life can germinate and flourish?

We may not readily identify with the image or metaphor, but that statement about ‘remembering the capacity of words to have an afterlife’ should resonate in our spiritual ears.  What words do we want to have ‘linger’ in the minds of others?  What do we want to leave with a colleague after a difficult conversation?  What do we want an interested future worker to remember who shares their heart for a particular people group?

Remembering what others have ‘said to us’, may help us reflect more deeply and prayerfully on what we should say to others.

He was here first

I read an interesting article in the French evangelical journal, Théologie Evangélique, this past week.  The article presented the ministry of David Bogue who was the impetus behind a missionary training centre in the UK in the late 18th century.  Though he never served as a cross cultural worker, he was instrumental in the preparation and sending of numerous workers to many parts of the then known world.god_is_here

What particularly caught my attention was the fact that several workers from this school either came from Europe or left to serve as workers in Europe once their training was completed.  I have often looked upon Europe or other parts of the world as somewhat ‘untouched’ by the Gospel.  However, God has been ‘working this soil’ for quite some time.

He was already here building His Church in Europe (and elsewhere) long before we arrived in the late 80s.

Two takeaways come quickly to mind.  First, we should see our work in the larger context of His work, of His mission.  Doing so, will allow us to recognize that the success or fruit in our ministry does not ultimately depend on us.  Second, we need to read more history.  I was stunned by the fact that this British pastor, with limited resources, had a vision so much larger than many today, and saw the fulfillment of that vision.  To think that France, for one, was already being touched by the Gospel efforts of one man in the late 18th century should  encourage many of us in the further work of sowing now in the 21st century.

No matter where we are in the world, God was there before we ever got there.  He is still seeking out people.  The amazing truth is that He chooses to use us as part of the means to accomplish His missionary purpose.

 

Wise and competent

Old Testament scholar, Gerhard Von Rad once wrote that wisdom means becoming competent with regard to the realities of life: how things really happen, how things really are, and what to do about it.  Wisdom is not just knowing the principles and rules to live by, or to minister by, but it is knowing how to apply biblical principles and values in changing contexts.wisdom1

It involves becoming ‘competent’, that is becoming skilled and experienced, in both character and work.  That dual balance is a necessity for all of us.

The one without the other leaves us limping through our work or creating havoc in our lives and the lives of others.

Solid character, built on the wisdom of God and worked out in community, is essential.  However, solid character with low work competence limits a person’s capacity to influence and train others.

Solid work skills, formed through input and on the ground training, are vital.  However, solid work skills coupled with poor character leads to dangerous contexts that cause negative impact in others’ lives.

Growing in this kind of biblical wisdom involves community.  Just read through the book of Proverbs and you are struck by how often growth in wisdom occurs in a collective or community context.

We all need a community that not only nurtures us, but actually transforms us when it comes to learning and applying of biblical wisdom to our lives and ministries.