Thursday, June 17, 2010

But You Be Different

by J.N. Manokaran, TOPIC India

Paul is giving sound advice to Timothy, a young emerging leader. People would like to have preachers and teachers who would please the masses. They will love, serve and support preachers who ‘suit their own desires’. And there would be always a great galaxy of such preachers and teachers. But, Timothy belongs to a minority, who would stand for the truth, be spokesperson for God and have guts to face adverse circumstances. It is not an easy task. “But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry.” (II Timothy 4:5)

Like many Christian leaders, I also get into confusion. Things do not happen as we desire or expect. While struggling for finances, there are others who revel in money. While struggling through health and other issues, they live comfortably. And many times they mock at me for lack of ‘smartness’ to move ahead. In the January 2010, during one such confusing time the above verse struck me.

But You

Timothy was and expected to be different. He cannot compare himself with others, as he is unique and special. I am not called to compare myself with others. Why should an apple be compared with orange? They are different species, and do not have common basis for comparison. Can a camel run like a horse? So, each one of us are unique, special in God’s eyes. Timothy has to do four important things, so do I.

1. Keep your head in all situations: Situations could sink us. They are not always favourable. But keeping head high in adverse situations is very hard. Especially, when we see ourselves as failure, non-productive, listless, aimless, purposeless…etc. That is what exactly we are supposed to do when we do not feel like or have strength to do. That means do not give room for negative thoughts. Let not others’ success or prosperity overwhelm you. Let not lack of support of others undermine you and me. Being lonely should not drown us in sorrows and self-pity. Yes we learn to live the present in the light of the future. Present adversity is temporal and it would pass away soon. The future reality in hope provides us faith to be confident and unperturbed in the present. It is a radical Christian life – adventure of faith.

2. Endure hardship: Paul did not say that life would be easy for Timothy. I cannot expect just comforts, luxury and smooth rides. It is going to be risky bumpy ride. Lot of bruises wounds and hurts. But it is progressive endurance of pilgrimage and not stagnant endurance of misery and hopelessness. The endurance is the cost of leadership, fruitfulness and blessing. The endurance is not passive, no option endurance; but proactive, joyful, cheerful endurance. That is doing apparently mundane, useless, unprofitable and futile things without murmur. Going through the listless chores, sometimes like machines, but with hope and expectation. The hardship is easy to endure if the vision is towards future. The present sufferings are not worth comparing to the future glory (Romans 8:18).

3. Do the work of an evangelist: In the midst on routine, mundane, unproductive and unprogressive situation, I have my job description to declare the good news. The most creative, dynamic and positive work in the midst of personal and contextual negative situation. My situation would be changing always, but the good news would not. So, my work continues and cannot stop in the earth. So, I live for a cause that is eternal, I proclaim a news that is enduring and serve the Kingdom that could not be shaken by any power on earth.

4. Discharge all the duties of your ministry: Timothy has lot of responsibilities a s minister, do I. As steward and servant, I am called to discharge my ministry responsibilities. I cannot sulk, wear sack cloth, sit on ashes and mourn. ‘Ministry’ is the sacred trust entrusted to me. He thought that ‘I was faithful’ (I Timothy 1:12), so he entrusted me this ministry, hence, I have to measure up to that trust. So, I have to discharge my ministerial responsibilities with excellence. In Paul, Timothy has a role model. Paul poured himself like a drink offering (Philippians 2:17) as he discharged his ministry. So should I. Paul claims that he has fought a good fight, in the struggle to keep his head high and full fill his ministry. In his steps Timothy would follow, so should I. In the process of discharging his ministry, he completes the race. Similarly, Timothy should not stop in the middle of the race, but complete it. Completion of the race would be my goal also. Paul kept his faith in all these. (II Tim 4: 6,7) The Just shall live by faith (Romans 1:17).

Discipleship is taking up the cross to follow Lord Jesus Christ. The cross is custom made for each one of us. It cannot be exchanged with any other person. The cross also is connected with our call for ministry. Each person’s call is unique so is the life and ministry. Hence, it is not ‘comparable’ with others. Let us run with perseverance the race that has been marked out for us (Hebrews 12:1)

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Do you work with humble servants?

by Doug Nichols

Let me share two stories of servant leadership:

ACTION USA Director, Rex Lee Carlaw, had just returned from several weeks of ministry in Latin America. He was, of course, tired from many meetings, travel, and now was faced with a huge backlog of mission correspondence with many items needing his attention. However, a friend of his was in need as his elderly father needed assistance going through security at the Seattle airport. Rex received special permission from the airlines to aid this elderly gentleman, so he took off an entire morning to help this man through the check-in for his flight, baggage, security, and on to the plane.

I thought later, “What a tremendous example! This is the kind of friend I would like to be.” Even with a heavy work load, much to accomplish, people to see and telephone, and team members to care for, Rex still took time off to help a friend in need.

I share office space with Nelson Reed, ACTION’s International Director. Most of the time, we are not in the office at the same time because of our various ministries and travels, so this “office sharing” works quite well for us. When we are in the office at the same time and he has a meeting or receives a private phone call, it is quite easy for me to work elsewhere in the building, even the store room, as I dictate correspondence through a voice recorder. I do not use a computer well, so my assistants type my correspondence from recorded mini cassettes onto a computer. However, it is not as easy for Nelson to leave the office as he does his own correspondence on his computer.

Something happened recently that displayed once again what a humble man Nelson is. He told me he would be leaving the office around 3 PM for several appointments, and I would be able to work in the office alone, so at 3 PM I was ready to do some dictation, and Nelson left. After about one hour, I came out of the office and saw Nelson at another small desk working on his notebook computer. He had remembered he had several other things to do which he had not taken care of. I thought, “Here is our International Director moving to a small work station outside his office to work on international matters not wanting to disturb me and my work.” What a humble servant to inconvenience himself not wanting to bother another brother’s work in ministry!

You may say these are very simple incidents. If they are, then why don’t many of us do simple things like these more often? They are wonderful examples to follow.