Saturday, August 25, 2007

Missional Freedom

The person who risks nothing, does nothing, has nothing, is nothing, becomes nothing. He may avoid suffering and sorrow, but he simply cannot learn and feel and change and grow and love and live. He has forfeited his freedom. Only the person who risks is truly free.


I've been thinking over a few ministry encounters that took place over the past week and how I responded to them differently than I would have before I started cultivating a missional mindset.

Freedom from the pressure to put on a good show: Few people understand the pressure a pastor feels to make sure that the Sunday service is worthwhile for those who attend. While it has been quite some time since I feel the need to be entertaining on Sundays, I only recently realized that the "quality" of the sermon was not the primary factor in the "success" of the Sunday service. I no longer believe that I am responsible for the effectiveness of the Sunday service. I leave that in God's hands.

Freedom from the desperate need to "sell" the church: Another burden pastors commonly feel is the pressure to sell the services of the church to prospective "customers." When someone would call asking questions about our congregation, I would try to sell them. When people would visit on Sundays, I would try to convince them to come back the next Sunday. Now I no longer apologize for our deficiencies. I simply invite people to join us in the journey without putting pressure on them or on me.

Freedom from the fear of wasting my time: Because I am not pouring all my time and energy into the Sunday service, I now am free to "waste" my time when ministry opportunities come up. Being with people trumps just about everything else. I no longer do a cost analysis on my time. I can afford just to hang out with people without constantly telling myself that I have to get back to the office and "get some work done."

Freedom from the fear of wasting my charity: I also have found that I am now able to give to others without calculating whether my gift is a good investment. I can take the chance that my contribution will not produce the results I intended for them to produce. This is not to say that I am frivolous with financial contributions. But I can give away money in situations where there is still a chance that the person is taking advantage of me.

Freedom from the tyranny of busyness: I no longer feel the need to prove my value by staying busy. I have learned how to relax and enjoy life. I don't have to be always hurrying to a meeting or rushing to an appointment.

Freedom from the compulsion to produce results: I no longer believe that it is my job to produce results. My job is to be faithful to my calling and to be open to the ministry opportunities that God puts in my way. The results are his responsibility.

Freedom from the need to change people: Because I believe that the results are God's responsibility, I no longer feel the need to change people. Only God's grace can chance people anyway. I am willing to be a channel of his grace, but I leave the results up to him.

Freedom from the fear of inadequacy: Because the results are God's problem, I no longer feel overwhelmed by the magnitude of the needs I encounter. Of course, I am inadequate to meet those needs. But that is not my responsibility. My responsibility is to "be there" for others, to point them to the One who can meet there needs.

So what is your experience? Have you experienced a similar freedom in your ministry (whether you are a pastor or not)? Have you found other aspects of this freedom that I have overlooked?

Pastor Rod

"Helping You Become the Person God Created You to Be"

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