Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Search my heart, O God

I have a confession to make - as excited as I am about the upcoming missions trip, I also kind of wish we were going on a typical vacation. I have been so tired lately that the thought of sitting on a beach with no decisions to make aside from where to take my afternoon siesta sounds fantastic. Now don't get me wrong, I am so happy that we chose to do a missions trip instead and know that it will be an amazing experience and far more rewarding and impactful than any vacation we've ever taken.

That being said, I just had to get my confession out there. We had a really good mission team meeting last weekend where we talked about the trip and I felt God was speaking to my heart and cleansing me of some thoughts and attitudes.

The church Missions Directors were there and went through a conflict resolution study with us that was really helpful. We discussed how to truly build community on the mission field by letting go of expectations, letting go of control, and trusting God. All three things that are very hard for me to do! I've been told I'm a natural leader (perhaps that's a nice way of saying control freak haha) so not jumping in and taking the reigns when the meetings or planning aren't going as I think they should has been tough for my Type A personality. I came to the conclusion that I'll need to humble myself, just as Christ did:

Phil. 2:5-11
Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited, but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness.  And being found in human form, he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death—even death on a cross.  Therefore God also highly exalted him and gave him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.                                        

Now our group of 11 is about the most diverse group I've ever seen! Very few of us knew each other before hand, and we're about as different as can be with regards to professions, seasons of life, opinions, personalities, etc. But we do have the most important thing in common - we love Jesus and are going to serve His people in the way He calls us to. The goal of our group is to be in true community where we aren't trying to fix each other but are accepting and encouraging in love. We'll need to acknowledge the reality of God's calling on us and that we are all equally broken before Him - He'll use us to help each other and grow one another.

We also learned about conflict and that it is inevitable on the mission field - in fact mission teams often fast-forward due to the intensity of the missions experience and the continual presence of other team members. We learned these biblical principles for conflict resolution:

Biblical Principles for Conflict Redemption

Speak truth in love                                             Eph. 4:15,25
Seek to edify and be gracious                              Eph. 4:29-32
Settle private disputes privately                          Matt. 18:15-17
Think before you speak                                       Prov. 15:23,28
Do not return insult for insult                               1 Peter 3:8-9
Check your motives for conflict                          James 4:1-2; Prov. 13:10
Pursue peace and edification in relationships        Rom. 14:19
Avoid needless quarrels                                       Prov. 20:3; 2 Tim. 2:24
Remember group interests as well as your own      Phil. 2:4

We realized that there will be many conflict producers on the trip - differing personalities, leadership styles, expectations, administrative details (the hardest one for me!)  - and add to these being in a foreign country with little sleep, different food, and being pregnant and it could be a recipe for disaster! It was really a good self check for me that I can't control everything and that I'll need to lay down my expectations of how the trip should go, how the leaders should lead, what time we should get on the bus, etc. I am there to SERVE and be LED, not to lead.

I realized that to redeem or even prevent conflict I'll need to first focus on God - I'll need to pray for love, discernment, for eyes to see others as He sees them and see their perspective. I also will focus on myself - check my motives, speak only for myself, be honest and kind - and not worry about or try to control what others are doing.

A good reminder in Hebrews 13:16-18 -
And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased. Obey your leaders and submit to their authority. They keep watch over you as men who must give an account. Obey them so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no advantage to you.   Pray for us.  We are sure that we have a clear conscience and desire to live honorably in every way.

Lastly, we heard a quote that I thought was an awesome illustration of how, in turning towards God and tuning into Him, we can grow closer as a team than we would if we simply focused one each other. From A.W.Tozer in “Pursuit of God”:

Has it ever occurred to you that one hundred pianos all tuned to the same fork are automatically tuned to each other?  They are of one accord by being tuned, not to each other, but to another standard to which one must individually bow.  So one hundred worshippers meeting together, each one looking away to Christ, are in heart nearer to each other than they could possibly be were they to become ‘unity’ conscious and turn their eyes away from God to strive for closer fellowship.   

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