Making A Difference Right Where You Are
What does it mean to live on mission in your everyday life? That was the simple question I was asking. And yet, for as many hearts that were seated around the table, there was a different answer.
From a young age, I knew that life was meant to be lived with purpose and significance. I graduated from college knowing there was something more than my first job. I knew I was meant for a life of purpose and finally arriving at a life mission.
I spent the next 15 years seeking to arrive at my life mission. I arrived in ministry only to find out life on mission happens not when you arrive but as you are going. You and I can live on mission right where we are in our everyday lives. By making an impact. By serving others. By loving well right where we are at.
Life on mission vs. life on a mission
Enter 2017. As a life coach and Bible study leader, I've become passionate about both ends of the spectrum. I want to help women find their God-given passions and use them to serve God and the people He puts in their life. At the same time, I long to help others discover that a soulful and purposeful life happens when we are fully awake to the life God has already given us.
While this passion drives me, it took some soul searching to find ways to connect the two and truly help my clients. It was through attending the IF:Gathering last year that I discovered that we can learn to live life on mission as we are going.
Jennie Allen and the rest of the speakers spoke on life mission from the perspective of the book of Acts. The early church leaders had one mission from Jesus. Go and make disciples - share the good news. I walked away from the IF: Gathering inspired and knew I wanted to help others discover the secrets to a life on mission.
The forerunners of life on mission
Last night, we started our own little mission as we launched our study of the early church in the book of Acts. We'll trace their life and ministry and learn step by step what it means to live out God's mission as we attempt to pinpoint our part in God's bigger story. We'll study what it means to live out Acts 1:8 while we also discover how the gifts God has given us contribute to His greater mission. As we opened our books last night, I asked the women gathered what I asked you. What does living on mission look like in your life? And a follow up question:
Our answers ranged from our to-do lists that distracted us to the fears that hold us back in really stepping out in faith. And then one answer came that gets us all.
In that moment, I felt like I had been punched in the gut. Perfection is the enemy of grace and serving and creativity. And I wonder how often you and I have let the need to get it right keep us from stepping out in faith or serving God?
Mission can be messy
The reality is that if we're waiting to have it all together before we step into a life on mission - we'll be waiting for a long time. I don't know about you, but in my 45+ years I have yet to master the art of perfection. Try as I might, perfection has escaped me.
What hasn't escaped me is that God uses our weaknesses as much as he uses our strengths. It is through those moments that we are at the end of our rope and need God to come through that He does some of HIs best work. It is in those moments that God uses our surrendered hearts to make a difference in our world. It is in those moments that we are changed from the inside out.
The only problem? We don't like it messy, do we? We like everything tidy and done well without mistakes. And whether those mistakes are tiny typos or a larger misstep in direction, we'd prefer to mess up behind the scenes.
Mission involves vulnerability
The truth is that mission involves getting real and being present in the lives of the people in our worlds. It involves trying new and different ways of doing things with the hope that we represent God well and help others. It involves learning from our failures instead of running from them.
As a business owner, I started in the perfection camp. When I created a product or service, I would perfect it behind the scenes before I even let one person look at it. But more and more, as I learned from those who are ahead of me in building a business, the secret sauce to success includes a willingness to do things imperfectly.
The reality is that life on mission includes a life of vulnerability. In order to have an impact, we need to be willing to be seen. To let people into our lives and hearts. In short, we need a willingness to be vulnerable - even when a peek behind the curtain reveals a big mess.
When we choose vulnerability and risk, we find belonging and allow God to use our not-so-put-together lives to speak to those we love.
Living on mission is a journey
I have a friend who has reminded for our entire friendship of one thing.
Life is about the journey - not the destination...
I need that reminder daily. I can get so focused on doing things right the first time and making sure all my ducks are in a row before I step out in faith that I never get there. I am focused on the day when I finally arrive and know exactly what I'm doing with this life on mission.
For you and I, focusing on the journey means we get to learn along the way. Focusing on the journey means we can let go of doing life on mission perfectly and ask God to show us how to do it with each step. Focusing on the journey means we get to extend ourselves grace in each moment knowing that God doesn't demand perfection as much as He is looking for a willing heart.
What I've learned along the way is that every day is a new opportunity to press pause and listen for God's voice when it comes to living on mission. Living on mission requires one foot faith. The kind of faith that steps out of the boat like Peter did with our eyes fixed on Jesus. One foot faith will acknowledge that despite our cracks and flaws, we are honored that God still chooses to use imperfect people to make an impact for Him. One foot faith chooses to be brave by trying and failing instead of not trying at all. One foot faith knows that being present trumps being perfect every single time.
I'd love to hear about your own life on mission journey. In what ways is God calling you to step out imperfectly to make a difference right where you are?