16 Mar 2009

What’s Best Next

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Our leadership team just came back from our Vision Retreat. We had a great time sharing, envisioning, planning and praying together.  In years past, we focused on more big picture, but not many concrete steps. As a corrective, we attempted to be more practical by focusing on the “next step” and everything in between. Although I am greatly excited and encouraged by people’s creativity and input, I confess I am exhausted and overwhelmed. So today, I find myself in a mixed bag of emotions. Parts of me wants to get cranking and fill up my to-do-lists while another part of me doesn’t want to think about anything related to ministry. During these moments, I need to remind myself and the rest of you that these are prime moments for Satan to exploit our weakness and fatigue.

While working through all this, I took comfort in this week’s Bible readings that were posted in this week’s email newsletter. I’m not sure if it was planned this way, but I’m so glad that we are in the book of Psalms after going through an action packed book of Acts. This week’s bible reading started in Psalm 42 of all places. The Psalmist throughout chapter 42 and 43 ask the question,

“Why are you downcast, O my soul?”.

Strangely, I resonated with this question.

“Why so disturbed within me?”

Again, I found myself wondering the same thing. Looking back objectively, there was nothing I could think of that was particularly disturbing besides talking about Tim Ko’s new wardrobe (totally kidding).

After pondering over these questions, I am reminded once more how easy it is for me to take my eyes off of Christ and place them squarely upon myself. Yes I may be physically fatigued, but the pressure that I and many of you may feel is not external but internal. Now that we talked about all the things that need to happen, there’s this instant sense of obligation that creeps into our soul that often times are born not out of a love for God and others, but an obligation that is driven by the need to prove something or to be omni-competent. Once again, I am getting in the way. The glory seeking part of me is hijacking what God wants to do in me and the church. These are the moments where our need for gospel becomes real. Not only am I supposed to preach the gospel to others, but first to myself. The Psalmist in a sense, preaches to himself as well and in doing so, answers his previous question:

Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.

All the next steps and structures we’ve created to support the mission are well and good, but everything we do must be born out of a heart that has been humbled by God. The worship of God is the antidote to the worship of self. Only then can we lead and love the people around us genuinely.

So what best next?

God is always a good starting point. We’ll see how things will go from there. Whatever that results will always be better than making ourselves the starting point. Practically, it means taking the time to pray and draw strength and guidance from our Savior. Ask Him to breathe new life in you and in the structures we are wanting to create to support community and mission. Give your weaknesses and shortcomings to our Savior who is able to use ordinary people to do extraordinary things for His sake.

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