January 16, 2010
I'm feeling a little wordy again. Stick with me.... Something the Lord has impressed on me the last couple of months is for my prayer time concerning our family and ministry to be more specific. I've been re-reading a few books along those lines, and trying to put more attention to detail in my prayers. One of the scriptures that jumped out at me is from Psalm 67:1-2, and I want to tell you why. First, a little background info.
I have to confess that there are some things missionaries just don't put on our blogs for public consumption. For example, there's no need writing something that will put unnecessary worry or stress on our parents or close friends, who diligently follow our posts.
We also tend to leave out things that we think might be misunderstood by someone who hasn't "been there, done that." On this example, I can only speak for myself, but I can attest that I've heard other missionaries say similar things. What I mean is, sometimes I make decisions here that I'd never make at home, prayerfully considering each thing I can, and doing our best. No examples come to mind, and if they did, I guess by the nature of the beast, I couldn't share them anyway. HAHA!
Other things we don't always share are those that may make us seem culturally insensitive, or ungrateful. In my mind, I may be thinking, "What in the world is my neighbor doing?!" but I won't blog that, nor will I go into details that would embarrass someone who might one day read this and realize that I aired their spiritual laundry under the guise of a prayer request.
I'm not sure I can write this in a way that makes sense, but one of the other things that is usually an "unmentionable," is the struggle we sometimes face within ourselves as ministers. This time, I'm speaking directly about pride. It's nothing unique to the mission field, but it presents itself in a sly way here. In some countries, I imagine there is much discrimination and maltreatment of foreigners, but I have to admit that most people are more than nice to us. They tend to sometimes put us on a pedestal and want to hear our opinions on everything, and how it's done in our country. We have to be careful on things that are cultural and not spiritual, that we don't come across as superior, and that we explain that just because we do things differently doesn't mean our way is better. But something we've been made aware of in various ways over the past several years, is the ability of pride to creep gradually--ever so slowly--into the heart of those put in such a position, until the feeling of superiority replaces that of humility and servanthood. No longer is the minister then here to serve, but to build a kingdom and make a name for himself/herself.
I'm sure it's something you, as I, have witnessed in everyday life, or seen in televangelists, or watched in politicians. Good things can still be done under this umbrella of kingdom building, but for all the wrong reasons. The sad thing is that most people don't realize it's creeping in on them, and they continue to build on this faulty foundation.
After thinking about the dangers of this, I began praying specifically that God would not allow that to become part of our ministry here in even the slightest form. That this blog, or your opinions of me, or how the nationals feel about us, or WHATEVER, would never take the place of God's opinion of us, nor that anyone who looked at our ministry would see US, but HIM.
The night I began praying this, I ran across the scripture I mentioned above.
May God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face shine upon us, Selah, that your ways may be known on earth, your salvation among all nations. Psalm 67:1-2
What jumped out at me was the motive for God's grace and blessings. Of course, we want God's anointing on HIS ministry, which He's entrusted to us. We want to minister to lots of youth, and we want to reach each one in a REAL way. We want to meet all our goals for the mission work. But why? The writer of verse 2 sums it up well to point out that the motive is that people all over the world in all nations will know God's ways and His salvation. Lord, help us to always keep that as the focus.