What We Need Every Day
As Christ followers we have been rescued from living a selfish and aimless life of sin and been reconciled to God as Father for the enjoyment of His great love and Kingdom purposes. This rescue came through the death of Christ, on the cross for our sins that we might no longer live for ourselves but for him. (2 Corinthians 5:14-15)
But each and every day, in our personal as well as professional life, we are bombarded by many things which reveal a self-reliance on our own skills and planning, or an anxiousness and fear of failure when we don’t see the results we are expecting from all our hard work.
The temptation is to just work “harder” and “smarter” to reach the goals called for by the wonderful strategic plan we have submitted to our boss.
I think to myself: “this is a good plan, and all I have to do is execute it, right?”
I submit that this kind of thinking, at least on my part, is a man-centered view of my work and calling.
Let’s take a look at what we need, every day, to move toward a view of life and calling that places God at the center.
First and foremost, our work needs to be motivated by a desire to honor and glorify God (1 Corinthians 10:31). Getting this right brings everything else into alignment and activates his empowering grace for the work he has called us to do.
Prayer must undergird everything we do. At best, a prayerless life reveals a proud, independent and self-reliant person. It assumes that we know what we are doing and that God is on the sideline rooting for us, placing us at the center of our life and work.
On the other hand, the man who prays acknowledges his dependency on God, his need for grace, a desire to join God in His work. Prayer acknowledges the supremacy of Christ in all things (Colossians 1:15-19), putting the work of our day in proper perspective—keeping in the forefront of our mind who truly rules over the success of the mission that He has called us to steward.
Prayer also keeps us from sinking below the waterline of unbelief, and from the anxiousness that can paralyze us when our donors’ giving is below what we have forecasted. We must come to the One who rules over all of creation with our fears and our plans (Philippians 4:5-7). Jesus tells us, four times, in Matthew 6:25-32, not to be anxious for anything. He admonishes us not to worry about food and clothing and says, “your heavenly Father knows that you need them all.” We are not to be anxious; rather, we are called to bring our requests to God. Jesus then moves us quickly, past our needs, to what should be dominating our hearts.
His Kingdom and Righteousness
Jesus’ command is clear,
But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.~ Matthew 6:33
Since God has called us to join Him in the ministry of advancement, we need to know that the mission, for whom we are inviting stewards to invest their resources, is a Kingdom mission. For us, then, the Gospel of grace must be at the center of our mission; it must be our core value. Jesus came “to seek and save the lost.” (Luke 19:10)
A glorious picture of the work of the Savior is described in this text:
The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound; to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn. ~ Isaiah 61:1-2
Life transformation happens at, and was made possible by, the finished work of the Cross. A Kingdom mission will be a Gospel-centered mission.
Last, but not least,we need to see your work as a calling, and to live intentionally as a servant of Christ.
For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. ~ Ephesians 2:10
T. J. Addington, a friend of mine and the author of Live Like You Mean It, elucidates this passage by drawing out the personal beauty of God’s calling for each of us:
“Astonishingly, God created us to join Him both in relationship and in His work in this world…. Not only are you and I unique, but we were uniquely designed to do something for God that only we can do. Long before the world began, long before our lives came to be, God had a plan for the gifts and wiring He would create in us and the unique ways we could contribute to His work. Therefore, if we can understand why God placed us on the earth and the unique ways that we can contribute to His work, our lives will have eternal significance.”
The knowledge that God has uniquely gifted us, and called us into the ministry of raising up stewards to be generous toward Him, supplies us, daily, with great joy and motivation. Living in our “sweet spot” entails the practice of planning—and plan executing—with a reliance on God, who will direct our steps.
“Commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will be established”; and in verse 9: “The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.” ~ Proverbs 16:3
“The plans of the diligent lead surely to abundance, but everyone who is hasty comes only to poverty.” ~ Provers 21:5
Experiencing, resting, loving and serving Christ – with a Biblical mindset – is at the heart of our joy.
Knowing God or as Paul says being known by God (Galatians 4:9) is the foundation to having a peaceful and productive day. May Paul’s prayer encourage us as we seek to join with God in His calling for your life each and every day.
To this end we always pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of his calling and may fulfill every resolve for good and every work of faith by his power, so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.~ 2 Thessalonians 1:11-12
Doug Thorson is the executive director of advancement for Prison Fellowship Ministries.
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