Saturday, August 17, 2013

Be Prepared

Regular readers of this blog will note that on more than one occasion that I have shared my doubts about long range strategic planning.  When major companies have adopted planning cycles of only six months, it would seem that the church, which is supposed to be responsive to the leadership of the Spirit of God, should be flexible in its planning as well.

This does not mean that I think visioning and planning processes are unwarranted, but I do believe that such processes should focus on understanding the church’s ministry context, its resources, and ways to prepare its people for service that allow a rapid response to a changing world rather than developing inflexible action plans that may hamper ministry.

This was on my mind when David Cates, our church’s minister to students, preached last Sunday on Luke 12:35-38:

 “Keep your shirts on; keep the lights on! Be like house servants waiting for their master to come back from his honeymoon, awake and ready to open the door when he arrives and knocks. Lucky the servants whom the master finds on watch! He’ll put on an apron, sit them at the table, and serve them a meal, sharing his wedding feast with them. It doesn’t matter what time of the night he arrives; they’re awake—and so blessed! Luke 12:35-38, The Message

Cates made a good case that “the servants are to be busy even if the master is not present.”  In other words, are we doing the things that will please Christ and build up His Kingdom? 

What are some things that we can be doing as God’s people to not only keep busy until He comes but respond to opportunities to do His work right now?

First, we need to be praying.  In doing so, we pray not just for ourselves and for discernment about how to use each day for God’s service, but we pray that God will open our eyes to how we can help others and how they might help us to be what God wants us to be as willing servants. 

Second, “we need to be in the Word” as preachers of an older era often implored.  This means careful studying of the content of the Bible but is also putting ourselves in a place where God can speak to us through scripture.  We are certainly concerned about what the Bible said to its original audiences, but we must also realize that there is a fresh word for us in scripture today that will guide our lives and work.

Third, we must discover our passions for service, recognize our spiritual gifts, and develop our skills for ministry.  Like the servants in the parable cited above, we need to be dressed, awake and ready to serve when the opportunity arises.

Four, we need to be open to possibilities, especially those that come when we least expect them.  When I did orientation sessions with college students who were preparing to serve as summer missionaries, I always told them that rule number one is, “Be flexible.”  No matter what we told them that their assignment would be, they should be prepared for it to change.  They needed the mindset to respond positively when it did!

 “Keep your shirts on; keep the lights on!”  Be ready for what God has prepared for you.

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