I was at a youth conference this summer and one of the things we were encouraged to do was to write a letter to ourselves. This letter was to remind us about what God was teaching us at the conference and to help keep us accountable. Did we actually follow through with what we felt God was leading us to do? Well, I recently received this letter in the mail and it came at exactly the write time. The first paragraph of the letter said this:
"It's been a good week. God has moved and worked again. Kids are pumped and primed to do things. It's been approximately three months. What have you led them to do? Have you looked at them as your own kids? Have you loved them and seen the unseen? Don't get weak or soft. Press on."
Reading that first paragraph was so good for me because it gave me some tangible things to look at and answer ... Have I helped set our kids on mission? Have I loved our students as my own kids? Have I focused on the ones that often do not get focused on?
The second paragraph of the letter said this:
"Allow Jesus to pour Himself in to your life. Don't seek great things. Don't seek favor from men. Seek God. Seek Him every day. Listen for His voice every day."
Reading that second paragraph reminded me that being in ministry is a combination of two things ... God's work in my personal life and allowing God to work through my life. The most important relationship I have in my life is my relationship with God. Life just stays so much more healthy when I'm finding my fulfillment in Him rather than anything else. My marriage is so much more healthy when I'm finding my fulfillment in Jesus rather than placing unrealistic expectations upon my wife. My ministry is so much more healthy if I'm finding my wholeness in Jesus rather than in my ministry itself.
As I allow Jesus to pour in to me, I then have a greater capacity to pour in to others. What's awesome about that is that Jesus' capacity to pour in to us is endless! The more I allow Him to pour in to me, the more He does. The more grace I need in my life, the more grace He gives. The more strength I need in my life, the more strength He gives. Jesus gives to me in direct proportion to my need. The more I need I am, the more He is willing to give.
A guy by the name of Jeremiah wrote this during or after the capture of the city he lived in. Jeremiah also experienced incredible persecution in his life ... beaten, thrown in prison, tormented for his relationship with God. He knew a little something about being in need. He said, "Because of the Lords’s great love we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness." (Lamentations 3:22 - 23)
His grace and mercy and strength are always there. His mercies are new every morning. As long as I'm open to receiving them, they will never run out! The more I receive them, the more I'm able to give them out. I certainly don't do this perfectly. It's a constant battle to try to keep things in balance. But, receiving this letter was such a powerful reminder to me that the more I seek God and allow myself to be led by Him, the more equipped I am to lead my family and my ministry and empty myself in to others as I allow Jesus to pour what He offers (love, grace, mercy, faithfulness) in to me.