Confession: I sometimes struggle with what it means to live a missional life as an ordinary believer.
I can’t seem to find direction in the environment of Missional Gurus who challenge the fruitfulness of missional living and suggest that most of us are Missional In Name Only. I don’t have a church, ministry, or project to list on my missional resume.
Sometimes I get an attack of performance anxiety. Recently my husband pointedly asked me, “Are you just looking for something to do to prove that you are missional?” Ouch.
So I threw out my missional resume and rather than redesigning my life in missional themes, I asked the Lord to begin teaching me what it means to be missional in my life and circumstances, not as an add-on feature. Unless and until God asks something bigger of me, I will try to live fully missional in the life I have.
Let me share a little of what I am learning. It isn’t earth-shattering, but for me it is a part of letting my life be transformed.
A few of the key ideas are that I try to be
- The main thing that I learned about myself is that in order to love others, I usually have to go one step beyond what I am culturally comfortable with. I was raised to respect other people’s privacy, to be non-intrusive, to be non-demonstrative, and to be somewhat introverted about approaching others. Not that I am now obnoxious, but in order to express care to others, I have to step outside of my comfort zone and risk stepping into theirs.
- I have also discovered that I have to stay present in the moment and present to the people around me. Most missional moments appear fairly insignificant.
- Missional moments look like an opportunity to let someone know that I care about them and what they are going through, sometimes just with words, sometimes with specific actions.
- Remembering I carry within me the light, power, and life of Jesus Christ, the choice is always available to me to share that love with others or to withhold it. I try to be generous with His abundant love.
- I am sharpening my awareness that everywhere around me are people who need words of life and sharpening my sensitivity to where God is at work.
- From a kingdom perspective, every act of love and care is an investment in eternity. I remind myself of the eternal significance of even the smallest opportunities to love.
- That’s it. Learning moment by moment to hear from the Father, to follow the Spirit, and to share the love of Jesus in every imaginable opportunity that presents itself during my day.
Yes, this ought to be christianity 101. However, it took me five years to really remove the church-program lens from my understanding of how to live the christian life. My earlier attempts at understanding how to be missional were through that lens.
I am tempted to not publish this because it sounds so simplistic. Yet I know that there are probably others like me who are fumbling along wanting to be missional outside of a context that would programize or institutionalize their efforts.
In order for this to soak into the marrow of who I am, so that missional is more than an abstraction, it has to start at the most basic places.
The reminders that I give myself along the way are pretty simple…
Love the one you’re with.
Take the extra step.
This is the reality of the kingdom.
This is eternal.