A lot of our blogs have been stories or spotlights of organizations, so I figured it was time for a 5-Step How To Get Involved. I’m excited about this because, as I have said in a previous blog, I really do love lists. They’re clean and organized, and really they just make life more simple.
I’m sure for some of you, you want to find a way to get involved with different ministries, but you aren’t sure where to start. You know that the Lord has put some sort of calling on your life, but you can’t identify it just yet. I know firsthand that can get frustrating. You wonder why the Lord won’t just make the first steps clear and easy. But let’s really think about that. Do we actually want it to be easy? In the long run, is that what really grows us as believers? In 1 Timothy 4, Paul is speaking to Timothy about ministry and what a good servant of Christ is like. He says, “Train yourself for godliness; for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of every value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come…For to this end we toil and strive, because we have our hope set on the living God, who is the Savior of all people, especially of those who believe…Practice these things, immerse yourself in them, so that you may see your progress. Keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching. Persist in this..” I chose these verses because the language Paul uses communicates that growing in the Lord takes discipline, attention, focus, and faith. He uses words like “train, toil, strive, hope, believe, practice, and persist”. These kind of words tell me that godliness takes a lot of work, but that work refines us and makes us better in the end.
So with that Scripture in mind, let’s talk about the steps we can take to get involved in local or international ministries.
- PRAY: Wow, Sarah, so obvious. Is it? How many of us have gotten a great idea of what we feel like we should do and dove right in? Guilty! Sometimes the unclarity you’re feeling when trying to pursue something (or being in it & not feeling settled) comes from the fact that you haven’t spent time praying about it–and by that I mean actually spending days, hours, maybe even weeks in prayer. I’m not saying that the Lord won’t answer you the fist time you go to Him asking for His voice, but a lot of things deserve a large amount of time devoted to prayer. So whatever it is you’re trying to decide on, make it a point to devote as much time in prayer as it takes. It’s in those quiet times and in the reading of the Word that the Lord speaks to us. We can guarantee that we’ll hear Him in those times.
- LISTEN: This goes hand in hand with prayer, but too often we forget this step. We pray and pray and petition and ask and beg & then we forget to listen. That’s actually pretty funny to me. How do we forget that part?? We think that just because we’re doing the act of praying, that’s enough and after that we can dive in to whatever it is we’re “feeling”. One way to practice listening is to actually sit in silence, waiting for the Lord to speak. This can feel uncomfortable at first, but it’s such a healthy practice to just sit and be still. Psalm 46:10 actually says, “Be still and know that I am God.” I want you to really understand that verse. To be still means literally that–sit still. Don’t speak, don’t move, just be. The next part of that verse says that when you sit still, know that He is God. Doesn’t that communicate that when we’re sitting still and listening, He will reveal Himself to us? That’s what it tells me, anyway. After you’ve spent time letting the Lord hear your voice, listen for His. He’s the one we’re seeking after all.
- TRUST: You’ve prayed, you’ve listened, now you trust. You either have to trust the voice of the Lord and the direction that He has called you in, or you have to trust that He will speak in His time. Some verses that are particularly encouraging in a time of trusting come from Psalm and 1 John. 1 John 5:14 says, “This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.” Similarly, Psalm 145:18 says, “The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on Him in truth.” We can trust that when we approach the Lord, seeking
HIS will, He hears us and is near to us. We serve an incredibly faithful God, and we can rest assured that He cares for us and loves us
- MOVE: You’ve been faithful in your call to prayer, to listening and to trusting, now it’s time to obey what the Lord has called for you to do. You’d think that once we’ve gone through the first 3 steps, this one would be easy wouldn’t you? Amazingly, this is the point where fear usually cripples a lot of people. They begin to question if they really did hear the Lord or if it was just their own voice. I’m here to tell you that if you’ve followed the first 3 steps faithfully, you can rest in knowing that it is in fact time to move. Sure, it’ll be scary at first, but the Lord equips us with boldness and confidence, even if we don’t feel it right at first. In Ephesians 3: 1-11, Paul is talking about how he was made a minister according to the gift of God’s grace. He says, “To me, though I am the very least of all the saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles…and to bring light for everyone what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God who created all things…This was according to the eternal purpose that he has realized in Christ Jesus our Lord, in whom we have boldness and access with confidence through our faith to him.” We have been given a gift that allows us to walk in confidence.
- BE FAITHFUL: Finally, it’s important that you remain consistent and faithful in this gracious calling. It’s not something to be taken lightly. James 1:17 says that every good and perfect gift comes from the Lord, and that in Him there is no variation or inconsistency. That means that the work He has called us to is holy and set apart. This doesn’t mean that seasons of ministry can’t come to an end, it just means that once we have committed to a ministry, we should be faithful to the end.
Maybe these aren’t the five most practical steps you were expecting, but I can guarantee you that they will work. Go ahead, try them out.
Featured image from my mission trip to India