I recently read a post on the art of leadership. One of the key takeaways for me was this: A good leader breaks down complex goals, issues, problems, etc, and helps people approach them by couching them in simple language or story. Jesus did this for us multiple times in the Gospels. For me the best examples are: the story of the Good Samaritan in Luke 10, and his parables of the Lost Coin, the Lost Sheep and the Lost Son in Luke 15.
Next week our church is sending 16 of us to New Mexico on a short-term mission trip to the Navajo Nation. As mission trips go, this one seems fairly simple from the outside: Cut and deliver wood to the Navajo people for fuel and cooking. However, all mission trips have various layers and levels to them, and this one is no exception.
Since we are already considering a return trip to this area, this trip becomes an exploration of future possibilities: When it comes to the issue of poverty, the needs are endless. Do the people there need a well? Do they need more medical aid? Clothing? Other basic necessities?
Our trip is also a team venture: Great friendships can be built on a mission trip, so long as everyone keeps their ego in check, stays flexible and trusts the Lord to lead. This is a crucial facet of a trip.
We are hoping and praying for opportunities to meet and share Christ with the Navajo people. So our adventure is primarily spiritual and relational in nature. And when we open our hearts to love God’s children, we also open the door to whatever kinds of changes he wants to bring about in our own hearts so that we grow in Christ.
Yes, many layers and levels…but let’s do our best to keep things simple.
Here are my three goals for our group on this trip:
- Give all the credit to God
- Develop a heart for our neighbors across the world
- Develop a heart for our neighbors across the street
Give all the credit to God: Like I said, we keep our egos in check and make sure we are doing what we are doing in order to honor and glorify God, not ourselves. Corollary to this idea: Don’t mess up the work that the resident missionaries are already doing. It’s not about you; it’s not about our group. It is about helping cross-cultural workers do what God has called them to do.
Develop a heart for our neighbors across the world: It is easy not to care about people who live far away in another world. And yet the Uyghur people in northwest China are currently enduring a holocaust situation; the country of Myanmar is suffering yet another military junta; Christians around the world are being persecuted now more than ever in the history of the world. Hebrews 13:3 reminds us: Continue to remember those in prison as if you were together with them in prison, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering. At the very least we are to remember and pray for our neighbors far away. And at most we do our best to go to them and love them in the name of Christ.
Develop a heart for our neighbors across the street: My sincere hope in taking people to Haiti, to North Macedonia, to New Mexico, or wherever, is for each of us to see the needs in our own community more clearly upon our return; and more importantly, to create ways to engage ourselves and our churches to meet the various kinds of needs we encounter. And most importantly, that we will help all our neighbors understand Goal #1: God gets the credit for our work, for their lives, for salvation, for grace, for all that is good; for without him, his leadership, his Holy Spirit, his movement, we are lifeless and can do nothing. On the other hand, as the Gospel of John says: “… anybody who is living by the truth will come to the light to make it plain that all he has done has been done through God” (John 3:21).
May the Lord lift the pandemic and, more importantly, open our eyes to our neighbors across the street and across the world.
Written by Brad, an EPC Pastor