My wife has a great job/ministry. She gets to talk day after day with some of the great thinkers in evangelical Christianity. Those kind of thinkers don’t ignore the contributions of mainline Protestants, Roman Catholics, and the Orthodox. Her truly interesting guests have dived into the treasures provided by pre-reformation scholars and practitioners and are wise enough to know that God has been at work outside the confines of evangelicalism and certainly within that movement in great ways.
One of the great treats for me is to sit down with Anita and listen as she talks about her interactions with those kind of guests on Midday Connection. These are the kind of people I want influencing me.
Last week Anita had a couple with wide and deep ministry influence and experience on her show. My guess is that they are 70ish. They continue to have an influential ministry mentoring many. They are good thinkers. They planted some questions in her mind about where she and us were investing ourselves beyond our personal ministries. We spent some time talking about the questions they posed. The next day, on my commute, I spent some time pondering what I now recognize as the stirring of the Spirit. Three questions are flowing in, through, and around me.
1. Who are the people Anita and I are choosing ‘to do life with’ (as a couple) in an intentional manner?
2. Who are the men I am choosing ‘to do life with’ in such a deep way that I am truly known to them and they are known to me?
3. Who are the next generation of leaders I’m investing in for the sake of the kingdom?
These are questions of community, accountability and transparency, equipping and legacy. And I don’t have great answers to them.
Let me be truthful. I know a lot of people but am so busy that I am close to almost no one. Much of my work with people has a work/ministry focus so I am always bothered about how far I can go or even should go to reveal the deeper things of my life. That’s a struggle for many in ministry. And I struggle, internally, about whether or not I truly have any wisdom and insight to pass on to a new generation. For that line of thinking I am chastised by my wife.
I’m realizing that I have some deep longings.
I long for community but my introverted tendencies draw me inward and busyness traps me. I long for accountability, authenticity, and transparency. And I am realizing that I have fewer years left in my life than I’ve currently lived. So, there is a longing to give away what I have learned and am learning to others.
In some respects that happens in my current life. I am surrounded by such good people both at Christ Church and Breakthrough. And I have opportunity to counsel, mentor and encourage within those settings. I am a blessed man. Certainly, issues of community, legacy, and accountability are addressed to some degree through these ministries. But not totally.
Sometimes, what one yearns for is beyond the ‘work’ environment. Sometimes I just desire to be Mike …without title or job description and the accompanying expectations.
Anita’s interview with that ministry couple was a challenge to think differently at this stage of our life. It was an invitation to think a bit more selfishly about our own wants and needs without neglecting the commitments already established. Perhaps it’s time to look beyond work/ministry environments and obligations and ask ourselves basic, hard questions.
What do we need? Desire/ Want?
That’s hard to answer. Sounds selfish to some extent. But we are at a stage of life where we’re realizing that asking these kind of questions aren’t selfish at all. They are necessary. We’re wondering if we can create something for ourselves that might be a blessing to us and to others. And if God is stirring all this in our hearts is He doing the same thing with others we know?
My guess is that some of you reading this might need to ask the same kind of questions. At this stage of your life …what do you need, want, and desire in order to live into God’s call for you? I’d urge you to consider such questions and to be open to what the Holy Spirit might reveal to you.
I'll keep you posted about our journey.