3) Speaking outside the church as time allows.
Not necessarily always in this order. God told me He'd take me to the nations from my laptop. One day God gave me a vision of me as an elderly woman, in solitude in my room - on my laptop...reaching the world. I believe one day this will be my life. Drudgery, you say? Not to me. To me, being alone in the silence and writing is as essential as breathing. I would rather write than eat, watch TV, sing, talk, play the piano or just about ANYTHING. I can be sick as a dog...and there I am, still writing. If I'm not writing, I'm reading....preparing to write.
Larry was right about politics. There, I said it. He's been trying to tell me for over 20 years now, but I'm just finally coming around to it. I'm thick headed sometimes if you haven't realized it yet.
I used to really thrive on being part of sectional or district leadership teams, and being very politically minded. First, I was naive enough to believe that the efforts of a committee had the power to blow up the world as we know it. I used to be clueless enough to think that God was waiting for me or those on our team to work harder on these type of projects and that some world changing revival would come through our efforts, or at least a big shake up (a positive one) for the organization, but now I see that although a gazillion administrative tasks were accomplished, that was basically where it ended. Now I've been around long enough to know that when God wanted something done, He never formed a committee.
During the majority of my ministry years, I was soooooooo about it, it was almost pathetic. It's embarrassing to admit that it was sometimes to an unhealthy degree. But the more and more time goes on, the more I realize, at the core my giftings and personality really don't lend themselves to me spending astronomical amounts of time on these kinds of things anymore. Being involved to a degree? Yes. Being fully immersed? No. Clearing the deck to make it absolute top on my agenda? Uh-uh. Am I still "involved"? Yes. I just see things different now. I don't have an unrealistic expectation anymore for the outcome of our initiatives.
The more I sit in meetings, the more I recognize my place at this point forward in my life as serving when and where I can, being a help and a positive contributing member, but not exhausting myself for it, or having such high hopes (translation: unrealistic ideas) as I did at some points in the last 20 years. I also feel that while I have been very good to the political machine, it has not always been very good for me. That is not a criticism, just an observation that beckons me to take stock of results and do some reshuffling of where I throw my energies and what I give my heart to, not just my time. At some points over these years, if I was not strong in the Lord it would have been the beginning of my end, spiritually. I have seen so much. Probably too much.
My husband is the LEAST politically minded person. He has never cared about anything in ministry but pastoring the local church and even with that, he tries to make it the LEAST politically charged atmosphere possible because he absolutely detests it. Our church business meetings last about 15 minutes. He doesn't see a need for them to go beyond that. Do we take care of business? Sure. Essentials. But there's no overkill. God never intended the church to revolve around business meetings. We disclose the financial report, ratify leaders, pray and go home. Our decisions are made in staff and ministry leaders meetings, not in business meetings. This is Larry's philosophy, but I've always been more involved in politically minded things outside the church than he was.
Many times when I've been involved on a team and we encouner something difficult with what appears to be a minutia of red tape, he has asked me, "why do you put yourself through some of the frustration that you do? Why do you expose yourself to that which threatens to disillusion you and cause you to have "stuff" to move beyond that were you not involved you would not have to work at getting past it?"
For 20 years he has always counseled me, "You work so hard but there are so many roadblocks, red tape and obstacles when you are dealing with this stuff..." That was true, yet I always had a desire to be highly involved. I always liked it much more back then, but now at this point in my life my convictions and passions are much more firmly established, rooted, and I have great confidence in uncompromisingly stating what I believe and why and not worrying about how that may shake out with everybody or whether they will like me or not after I've said it.
I am not judgmental of those who decide to immerse themselves in this or anything else...I'm just saying, total immersion is not for me, except when it comes to baptism. (ha!)
Despite what was often my thirst to be involved, sometimes for the wrong reason, one great thing has come about as a result of my involvement: great friendships and connections I would have not had otherwise. Precious relationships. To me it's all about that and worth it for that one reason. At this point in serving in the ways I do, I've completely flip flopped on my opinion as far as my reason or passion to serve and that is - to give and receive encouragement from those I serve with. This is pretty much the drive behind any desire I have at this point. I realize that while world altering change probably will never come through serving in these endeavors, the relationships gained and maintained through serving are worth the price of service in themselves.
In re-prioritizing this past year and looking to the second half of my life I have realized I want to be free to put the bulk of my efforts where I make the most difference. More and more I'm finding my place. And getting comfy in it. Not in the sense of status quo, "comfort zone" but comfortable in being absolutely sure of what God has called me to be and do, and walking in it. It's a good place to be.