Take a journey with me. Imagine a playground. Kids running all over; a teacher is standing with his arms folded across his chest while the other teacher is twirling the leash for their whistle around her index finger. It's a beautiful fall afternoon. The sun is peeking out from behind the clouds, kids are swinging, hanging from the monkey bars, and playing tag. Meanwhile, a group of kids just started a basketball game. Johnny and Stephen have been elected team captains. The process begins. Johnny picks his first teammate then, Stephen. The process goes on and on until the last two players are standing in front of them. Reluctant to pick either player, Johnny picks the least worst of the remaining two and Stephen is stuck with a pick he doesn't want nor cares to have on his team.
Harsh, right?! Maybe you were Johnny or Stephen or even the kid that got picked last. Like it or not we all have favorites and when we run out of favorites what do we have left? That annoying nonathletic person no body wants.
Now move into adulthood. Nothing has changed, except that the playground gets replaced with work, neighborhoods, churches, mission trips, college classes and dorm rooms, community events, or even our households. In all these situations there are team captains (the person that hurt us) and the kid that got picked last (a person that annoys us).
What if we were to tell you these people are the people that God is calling us to minister too? What would you say? Would you do your best to pass that person off to the next person? Would you disagree with us?
Now stop for a minute and imagine, if you will, the impact you would make in this persons life. Imagine the impact you would have on the people around you as they watch you minister to the person everyone dislikes in the office, classroom, neighborhood, dorm room, community event, in your church, or on your mission trip.
Dr. Larry Crabb - author and founder and director of New Way Ministries, gives an analogy of rocking chairs. When we sit in rocking chairs, we tend to sit side by side looking out. He continues and asks the question: "What if we turned our chairs and faced each other?"
Now, sit in that metaphoric rocking chair for a minute. What if that person that annoys you or has hurt you is sitting right next to you? Would you turn your chair and face that person and enter into a journey of "Soul Care" - a process of entering into people's lives at a meaningful level and make a lasting difference as they deal with life's struggles and crises.
Let's begin unpacking what we're discussing in our next section of Fully Packed Adventure Ministries Biblical Foundation material Module 2 - Personal Ministry: No Room for Favoritism.
Before we go any further we want you to take a minute to read:
Word Work - Partiality. Dictionary.com defines it as a favorable bias or prejudice. The key word we want you to notice is prejudice which means an unfavorable opinion or feeling formed beforehand or with knowledge, thought, or reason. In James 2:5-7, James ask some challenging/thought provoking questions about The Sin of Partiality or being prejudice:
5 "Listen, my beloved brothers, has not God chosen those who are poor (you and I) in the world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom, which he has promised to those who love him? 6 But you have dishonored the poor man (see verses James 2:1-3). Are not the rich the ones who oppress you, and the ones who drag you into court? 7 Are they not the ones who blaspheme the honorable name by which you were called?
Jude 1:16 mentions showing favoritism to gain an advantage. Just as verses 1-3 in James speaks of the showing favoritism towards the rich man instead of the poor. This is our inward selfishness taking over leading us to sin in hopes to gain advantage for ourselves. Partiality Sin gains us nothing in the kingdom of heaven. It only gains us favor here in this world. The world operates on a eat or be eaten mentality. We claw, bite, kick and stab our way to the top with no regard for the people in front of us. If the person next to us annoys us or has no personal advantage in getting you or I to the top, we cast them aside.
We hate to say this... this happens in ministries and churches too. Sin see no boundaries. It will enter in and disrupt His will in our lives, in our ministries, and in our churches. Satan's number one goal is to bring God's kingdom to its knees, and he will stop at nothing to accomplish this. But fear not! God reigns supreme now then and always!
No room for favoritism is a big topic as it pertains to personal ministries. We are not called to minister to those we choose. We are called to minister to the people He directs us to, whether they annoy us or hurt us.
Matt Allen lays down a very challenging request:
Think about the most frustrating person that God has placed in your life right now. Pray right now for them. Pray also for your own heart that God would cultivate in you a willingness to spend time conversing with him or her, for the purpose of sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Be intentional about communicating with this person and praying for them.
This is our challenge for all of us: Take some time to evaluate your personal ministry. Who is the most frustrating person in your life right now? Is this person at work, in your neighborhood, or at school? Stop right now and pray for them! Ask God to move you towards sharing the gospel to them this week.
Our prayer for everyone will be that we will remove the sin of partiality and begin ministering to everyone (even the annoying ones and the ones that hurt us)!
Next week we're going to continue in Module 2 - Personal Ministry on the topic of Setting Limits and Boundaries. Take some time between now and the next post to read up on boundaries. We suggest this post from Dr. Henry Clound on Basic Boundaries - When to say Yes and When to say No
The above questions and information can be difficult to process. Some of these questions you might not be able to answer immediately. First, pray about this. Secondly, let me (David Wildman) give you some encouragement. I once was that person (the person that was hurt). Today I'm writing to you saying I was living a life of sin. I let sin control my emotions and actions towards these people. Did they wrong me? Absolutely! Was I right in acting out towards them? NOPE! I finally made a choice... I can continue living in sin (allowing these people to control my emotions and actions) or I can begin living according to God's will and enter into a journey of Soul Care for myself in hopes of restoring a Christ centered relationship with these people. This journey has not been easy, but I can tell you that God has put people in my life, throughout the process, to help me. Sometimes that person was for me and other times that person was intended for the entire group.
I tell you this in hopes that it encourages you to stop and think about the people who may annoy you or have hurt you. How can you repair yourself with the Lord so that he will be able to show you how to minister to these people. Yes, they are annoying or yes, they may have hurt you. But remember we have hurt Christ too. We have chosen our own self will over His - we have chosen not to minister to these people. This hurts Christ. When we turn to him he ministers to us showing grace, love, guidance, understanding, and equipping us with His spirit.
Our prayer is that you will see God's glory in these relationships. Our prayer is that you will be able to rise above Satan's stronghold and stop letting these people control your emotions/actions. God has great things in store for you. Satan wants to distract you with these people. Shut Satan down by ministering to these people. Bring God the glory by sharing his unconditional love, grace, understanding and guidance to these people.
If you need guidance or assistance in moving towards these people, we are here. Call us at 864-546-9687. We would love to begin the journey of Soul Care with you!
Thanks and God Bless!