Tuesday, February 23, 2010

If Your Goal Is to Seek First God's Kingdom

Two Christmases ago, my Houston church made the front page of the city paper after asking members to volunteer for our first "see what you can do for God's Kingdom with $100" project. More specifically, for each participant to design a project suitable to his or her perceived calling. It worked so well that we're now in the middle of our second such project; my contribution to that one will be to self-publish a collection of poems chosen specifically for their value in encouraging the depressed and discouraged.

There's a certain encouragement-to-the-discouraged value in "find your ministry" projects themselves, as they acknowledge that you can make a contribution to the Kingdom even if your gift isn't teaching, building, fundraising, or one of the handful of other items where churches always seem to have obvious needs to meet. Likewise in the world of full-time employment. Without belittling the hundreds of people who become professional ministers of the Gospel out of genuine love for God and sensitivity to His calling, it's only fair to note that dozens more were pressured to enter preaching or missions against their own better judgment, and--whether they said "yes," or said "no" and felt guilty about it--are miserable as a result. Taking the "find a need and fill it" approach without regard to whether you are actually qualified to fill it is asking for trouble; God has ways of using us all to maximum effectiveness in whatever work He has gifted us for.

There's no question that we are all called to "seek first [God's] kingdom and his righteousness" (Mt. 6:33). We should also be seeking--diligently and persistently--the specific best ways each of us can advance the Kingdom and God's glory.

And at times, that best way involves doing nothing--except being still and letting Him shape our hearts and minds.

If your goal is to seek first God's Kingdom,
There's no worthier aim on this earth:
But don't think that is done just through missions
That lead wandering souls straight to new birth,
Or in building of churches of thousands.
If these things just can't work out for you,
God has still made you for His own purpose--
You're a part of our Lord's Kingdom, too!

By all means, give your wealth and your labor,
Set your neighbor's needs over your own,
And keep praying with faith and with fervor;
But accept your Lord's burden alone.
Neither guilt, nor prestige, nor mere duty,
Is the way: God delights in your love.
Seek His way both in labor and leisure;
Seek His guidance and power from above!

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