The world has altered dramatically since Ash Wednesday and the launch of this Forty Days of Apostleship. The rapid spread of this current scourge has changed everything—restricting or shutting down many public spaces including churches.
Now that Christians have effectively been kicked out of the nest, church doors clanging shut behind them, it’s time for you and your people to take on the mantle of the apostle you are! No more hiding behind the safety of numbers in worship, or the protection of the pews. Your people have been thrust out into the world. It’s a scary place to be!
That means people are looking to you to continue to teach them. This is your moment. They need you and they know they need you. There will be no assurance from the news, or the government. They will be looking to their faith.
You can give them the deep connection they are longing for by empowering them to believe like Jesus. That’s the mark of an apostle.
Jesus Believed in His Purpose
And Jesus handed that purpose to you. Your job is to embrace the belief that he had. And to share it with others. So how do you believe like Jesus and how does that lead to action? Use the following process to deepen your own faith, and that of the people you lead.
Soulful Steps: Jesus’ Four-Part Process
Jesus’ life reveals a four-part process of identifying purpose in the Gospels. Take for example this story of healing in Luke 4:40-44.
At sunset, the people brought to Jesus all who had various kinds of sickness, and laying his hands on each one, he healed them. Moreover, demons came out of many people, shouting, “You are the Son of God!” But he rebuked them and would not allow them to speak, because they knew he was the Messiah. At daybreak, Jesus went out to a solitary place. The people were looking for him and when they came to where he was, they tried to keep him from leaving them. But he said, “I must proclaim the good news of the kingdom of God to the other towns also, because that is why I was sent.” And he kept on preaching in the synagogues of Judea.”
In this story, you can see the four-part process, and how it connects you with Jesus and purpose.
Part One—Doing What You Love: What deeply engages you, comes easily, is natural for you and serves the greater good? That’s (at least one of) your purpose (s). In this story, Jesus was laying hands on people who were sick and ailing—physically and spiritually. He healed them and cast out demons that were tormenting them.
Part Two—Challenges Arise: Something contrary to your purpose happens. Identify what pulls you off course, or causes you to settle for a lesser good. In Jesus’ life, the people he had healed came back to beg him to stay with them. Understandably, they didn’t want him to go.
Part Three—Clarity Emerges: Contrary or challenging conditions make a way for you to get clear on your purpose. In this Gospel story, Jesus answers the people, “I must proclaim the good news of the kingdom of God to the other towns also, because that is why I was sent.” In other words—No can do. I have other places to go and people to heal.
Part Four—Clarity Leads to Action: This chain of events makes the way clear for you to take action. We see it Jesus’ life: “He kept on preaching in the synagogues of Judea.”
Embrace the Belief that Your Life Has Purpose
To embrace the belief that your life has purpose, personalize the process by writing out these steps:
First, write out the things that come naturally and easily to you, and that serve a greater good.
Second, write out situations that have arisen that are contrary to the things you noted in step one.
Third, note what you have found yourself saying or thinking that point you back to your purpose.
Fourth, write what actions you have taken or now can take that are aligned with your life’s purpose.
Get into action! Say YES! to requests, needs, and circumstances that are consistent with your life’s purpose. Or create the conditions in which your gifts are needed.
But don’t worry if you are not crystal clear on your purpose. I remember when I was agonizing over my call. Everyone else seemed to know what they were doing; but I didn’t. One day it occurred to me that my gifts were my path. God would not have called me to a path that I wasn’t prepared for in some way. Just as Jesus’ purpose was revealed in his gifts, your purpose will be too.
If all else fails, simply act as though you do have purpose. And that what you are currently involved in reveals some aspect of your purposeful life. After all, “All things work together for the good for those who love the Lord and are called according to God’s purpose.”
Don’t Let The Scourge Discourage You
Above all, don’t let the scourge discourage you! Join me for Congregations and COVID-19: Creative Ways to Stay Connected. We meet Tuesday-Friday this week for 30 minutes at 10am Mountain Time via Zoom. After the fact, you can access the videos. These topics in applied apostleship cover everything from online worship to online communion; pastoral care and self-care; and new visions for the future. You are not alone!