“But seek first the Kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” - Jesus of Nazareth
Every day there are opportunities knocking on my door. New business ventures, new ideas, new stories, newthings vying for my attention. I currently have a list of a dozen TV shows that I just “have to watch.” But I am constantly keeping my guard up, careful not to let too much in. Cause there is only so much time. Only so much strength. Only so much money.
So, how do I say yes? How do I choose to let something in? What filter do I use to wade through the noise?
Filter #1: The Mission
I have one overriding purpose to my life. I have focus. And it falters. But it always finds its way back to the top. And having that focus helps me make the hard decisions. In my personal life, my mission is to live out the love of Christ in a way that is visible and authentic. This is why I wrote about our miscarriage. This is why I so easily share my own faults and failures. Because this is real life. And Jesus does touch all of it. I want people to see Him. So Iopen my life that people may see Him working through me.
This is why I preach. This is why I write. This is why I bike and walk this great city. This is why I office around people all day long. This has determined where our family has lived and where we have moved. The love of Christ has changed our lives. It is making us new. And it is my desire for the the whole world to meet this same Jesus and know this same rest. So we live it out. As a real person in a sad world.
So, when something new comes along, I look at it. And I ask if it will help push that mission forward. And if it doesn’t, I will often put it down and keep on walking.
Example: When buying a house, we bought a house that could welcome guests. Because we knew that we are going to be inviting the world into our lives. The large dining room and living room is why we choose this house. Also when buying a house, we chose to buy one well below what we were approved to borrow. Cause we wanted a massively low payment so that we could have resources to invest in God’s kingdom. We want to be generous. We want to support the new church. We want to one day be self-sufficient and take no pay from our church. So we need to limit our debt to do this. This is how much the mission guides our life.
Filter #2: The Blessing
I also look to see if God’s hand is on it. If there is blessing around the path that stands before me. Do I see any signs of His presence? When Angie and I were praying about where to start a new church, we visited many cities. But there was no shine. There was no fire. Now this is a really tough thing to quantify. This requires real discernment. I often roll my eyes when anyone every says, “God told me…”. I find it odd God so often tells people to do what they really want to do. In my experience, the shine isn’t where the cool is at. We came to Flint because God broke our hearts for the city. God revealed the great need, and the great sacrifice needed, and even the unique gifting He had given for us to be effective. It is not where we would have chosen. Not in a million years. But it’s where God was holding the door open. His blessing was on the path.
Filter #3: The Consensus
I am not infallible. I can lie to myself very easily. So I have brothers whom I walk alongside. And they have the freedom to speak into my life. To call bullcrap on my well rehearsed words. If someone doesn’t have someone who can tell them they are stupid, they are on the road to self-destruction. I will often talk to my trusted mentors and brothers in arms when making major (and sometimes even minor) decisions. Just to get a feel. No one person has the authority to make my decision for me. That is the cowards way out. In the end, I make the choice based upon the available data. But I want the data. I need the info. And often the brotherhood can reveal pieces that I did not (or would not) see. And they have saved me on more than one occasion.
When coming to Flint, there was so much wise counsel given. I was able to come into this place with confidence AND wisdom. There were a few who thought we were crazy, but the rest saw the same shine we did. And the same blessing.
These are a few of the filters in my life that keep my life simple. That help me from being overwhelmed and beat down. I hope this is helpful to you as you walk.
A fellow sojourner,