The purpose of my life is to be a leading servant who spreads God’s love around the world.
I. TO HELP LEADERS
I do that by serving and helping leaders. That sense of call for ministry comes from when I attended a training on how to lead small groups at our church. I was originally at that training because I wanted to create a small group of guys who would study leadership from the Bible and spend time getting to know each other.
I wanted to create a group of Christian guys who have leadership potential and want to lead. While at that small group training I felt God tell me, “Christopher, I want you to go to make leaders of everyday men and women.” Before this happened I already had a good feel for my sense of calling. I had been involved in leading a volunteer based program for five years, and I had personally seen the difference that good leadership has on a program. Therefore I was at the small group training to learn to train leaders, and what God shared with me was a tremendous encouragement that I was walking along the correct path.
I also feel called by God to fill the need and hunger for leadership growth in our community, country, and world. There are many needs that our country and world has, but one need that every country has is more Christian leaders. We desperately need more leaders who have integrity and who are effective. This is part of the affirmation of my call: that what I feel called to do is desperately needed.
A large part of my call to ministry is simply to encourage leaders, which is why I have written a book with that same purpose titled, A Day of Hope: Leading Volunteers to Make a Difference in Your Community. I wrote the book to encourage other leaders and teach them how to lead people to do great things in their community. No matter how good of a leader they are, there will be times when leadership is tough and I believe that is an important message to communicate. And a good leader needs to know that those times are going to happen. But how does my call to serve leaders get lived out and done?
II. TO WRITE
I feel that a large element of my call to ministry is to write. I am a pretty good writer. I can easily sit down with a pad of paper and pen and get down principles and ideas that will significantly help leaders. In addition to writing, I feel that I have a broader set of strengths that have affirmed my call. Those strengths are:
- Visioning – Seeing the future of what God wants me to create and to do in order to further His kingdom
- Thinking – Generating ideas and concepts that will help that vision become reality
- Communicating – Communicating my vision and ideas to a group of people either in writing or speaking
- Creating – Making daily progress on that vision by creating new things and new services to help people.
These strengths allow me to be an effective leader and creative communicator.
Based on my best discernment, I believe my sense of calling is to serve and help leaders full-time. I am here on earth not just to teach, but to also be a good leader who lives out leadership principles daily.
III. TO EMPLOY PEOPLE
Because I am willing to be an example of a good leader, I am open to the idea of employing lots of people to influence them positively because I know that I can teach leaders two ways: 1) By being a good example; and 2) By what I say. I have a file folder in my home office titled, “New Org” which consists of all of the ideas that I have had and think might be worth having as part of my organization. With that said, my sense of call of ministry is to play a vital role in serving leaders so they can become better at what they do. But, like any other goal and project worth pursuing, there going to be perils and pitfalls that I will have to deal with along the way.
IV. MY PERILS
The first of these perils is that I am young.
Leadership seems to be best received by learners when it is being taught by someone who is older, experienced, and has been around the block for a while (or as my dad calls these people, “blue hairs”). Currently, I am 25 five years old, which is half the age of many people who are still actively in the workforce. This makes it difficult to offer advice, insight, or coaching when someone has had more experience and training than I might have had. In addition to that, some people believe that someone who teaches leadership does not know how to lead. The old urban legend of “Those who can’t do, teach” can be a hindrance to my ability to positively influence leaders.
However, the only way that you are able to teach is by having done something. And that something I do is reflect as much as possible on my experiences while also studying very hard every day in preparation for teaching leadership. Even though I still feel that my youth gets in the way of my ability to teach, I persist anyway—working hard to share what I have learned with other leaders so they can benefit from my experience and study. However, in the midst of my hard work I encounter another pitfall I need to be aware of: balancing family and work.
In the past I have had trouble balancing work and family life. Even though my little sister lived less than a mile from me, I had a bad habit of going weeks without seeing or speaking to her. My family life has drastically improved since I started dating Jen, my girlfriend, but I still might struggle with it from time to time. Because I have a tremendous desire to serve leaders, that puts me in danger of working a lot and putting my family on the back burner.
I want to be a loving husband to Jen in the future (when we are married) and I want to be a great father to my children. I do realize that doing a great job of serving leaders while also being a great family man is difficult, but it is something I am going to have to learn to juggle and balance as I continue with my work.
Luckily, I have had some great help in this area from men who have guided me. I have had a dear friend, Rod, who shared with me his story of almost losing his marriage because he worked so much, and I have benefited from reading and re-reading a book by Andy Stanley titled, Choosing to Cheat: Who Wins when Family and Work Collide? In addition to fighting to be a good father and husband, I also need to be mindful of how to be loyal to my future wife.
Sexual temptation is something that most men have to work hard on to make sure it does not become a pitfall to their family life and ministry. My own sexual purity is something that I have worked very hard on over the past three years to get right with God on.
Currently, working at a nonprofit requires that I spend a lot of time around women. So I have put specific measures in place to prevent myself from being in positions where I might be tempted to commit sexual sin. But, as a young male I will always have to be on guard in this area in order to be sexually pure and to protect my mind, heart, and actions. Again, another book that I have greatly benefited from in this area is Every Man’s Battle by Steven Arterburn and Fred Stoker.
Many Christian leaders have had great ministries completely washed away because of their sexual sin. As a young male moving forward with my ministry, I know sexual temptation is a pitfall I need to be mindful of and stay away from.
Another pitfall I will have to beware of as I move forward with my ministry to serve leaders is that starting something new is extremely difficult. Starting a new organization based on teaching leadership is especially difficult because I do not have a platform of authority to teach from. Even more difficult for me is that my core strength is writing, and there is very little money in writing books.
Therefore, I currently work full-time in order to support myself while at the same time working hard to do the work of teaching leaders in the evenings and on Sundays. (Saturday is my Sabbath day, a topic I will share later.) Given these three pitfalls, I have several practices that I know will help to mediate them either directly or indirectly, and I hope these spiritual practices will help me to move forward in my ministry.
Reading the books, Leaving Church, Becoming Who You Are, and Bridges to Contemplative Living, has helped me learn several important practices that will guide me in my journey to serve leaders.
V. A SABBATH
One thing I have learned to practice weekly both from our reading and my own life is the benefit and necessity of the Sabbath. I have maintained a Sabbath day for a few years now, but the readings about the benefits of the Sabbath have reinforced the need for me to keep having a Sabbath and to make sure it is a whole Sabbath day with no work.
Maintaining Sabbath days means I set aside a day to sleep in, ready my Bible, spend time with my girlfriend, or anything else that I might enjoy. In Leaving Church, Barbara Brown Taylor shares her new found enjoyment of a full Sabbath day of rest (pp. 131-142). A Sabbath day for me helps me to keep from getting burnt out, it is a practiced discipline of obeying God’s law, and it reminds me to trust God to help me get things done that need to get done. A day with no agenda, just rest, is beneficial and helpful to me as I move forward with my ministry of serving leaders. Perhaps even more important than a weekly Sabbath is the daily quite time I need to maintain in order to stay in God’s will.
VI. QUIET TIME
I have been good at maintaining a chunk of quite time with God in the mornings for the past several years. My quite time with God in the morning is crucial to who I have already become, and it will be even more important as I move forward in an effort to serve leaders. In my quite time with God I have time to journal, read my Bible, and pray.
Thomas Merton has helped me see the importance of prayer when he writes, “Meditation or ‘prayer of the heart’ is the active effort we make to keep our hearts open so that we may be enlightened by him [God] and filled with this realization of our true relation to him” (Merton, Bridges to Contemplative Living with Thomas Merton). Maintaining my quite time in the morning with God allows me to continue to seek out who God wants me to be, who He wants me to serve, and how He wants me to honor Him with my life. However, God is not the only person I need to spend time with in order to honor my call to ministry.
VII. FAMILY TIME
In order to maintain my integrity as a family man and share the hurts in my heart, I need to be able to share my heart with other men. I need to always have a small group of guys to spend time with or a single guy friend to be an accountability partner. Currently I have three guy friends (this is the “small group” I wrote about earlier) with whom I meet for coffee and Bible study every Tuesday morning. In order to keep myself healthy mentally and emotionally, I need some guy friends with whom I share my feelings and receive guidance in the correct direction. They know who I am, recognize if I am doing things that are not lined up with what a Godly man should do, and they walk with me on the path to getting right again. This can also be done with the help of an accountability partner, which has been my friend Rod. We are accountability partners relating to our sexual purity to make sure we are making good decisions with what our eyes land on, what our thoughts think about, and what actions we take. Having a group of guys to spend time with or an accountability partner will be a crucial practice for me to have going forward in order to honor my call to be a Godly man who serves other leaders.
As I wrap up my call to ministry to serve leaders, I find Jeff Harrington’s comment to be very relevant about what my call is, what pitfalls I might encounter along the way, and the practices I need to have, Jeff declared, “Spiritual formation is not about what you do specifically, but how are we getting to understand God more deeply and seeking to live more clearly for His honor and the world’s benefit.” 1 Through my spiritual practices I hope I can learn more of who I am so that I too may “seek to live more clearly for His honor” by serving leaders.
- Jeff Harrington, “Ministry Discernment and Spiritual Formation 397A” (lecture, Fresno Pacific University, Fresno, CA February 24, 2011) ↩