Shine Your Light is the theme at my congregation this year. In a way it is the theme of every year. Walking with Jesus, learning, and now doing ministry are the steps that are leading us toward discovering our personal mission. Acts of service, denying yourself in order to give to those in need, making sacrifices, thinking of others before yourself, caring for the people that Jesus cared about – the widow, the orphan, the grieving, the hungry, the imprisoned, the marginalized, those who seek true authentic worship – these are the people we are called to minister to with our time, energy, and money. Before we find our own passion for mission we are busy just doing what Jesus did. How much better would the world be if we just did some of the things that Jesus did in his everyday life.
Doing what Jesus did does not mean that you will be miserable or unhappy always sacrificing. Jesus got up early each day to spend time with the Father, he took long road trips with the disciples, he went fishing, he had camp outs, he took sailboats across the Sea of Galilee, he went to weddings, parties (maybe even raucous parties – don’t infer that he got wasted at those but he connected with people who probably were) – Jesus did it all on his way to the Via Dolorosa. Jesus lived – he found his true humanity – but he definitely discovered it in the midst of serving others.
I think serving others energized Jesus. I think he loved it. It wasn’t until the very end that he accepted his final mission. Oh he had a clear inkling. He knew what might happen if he went to Jerusalem that Passover. Yet, even in the last hours he wasn’t sure – in his human struggle he cried out, “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” (Luke 22:42) From that moment on he was fully passionate about the mission of the cross. He clearly predicted it earlier but expecting, predicting, and anticipating something is a great deal different than entering into the final mission.
Jesus does not ask everyone to sacrifice in the same way but he does ask everyone to make a sacrifice. That is what a personal mission does. It takes us away from what makes us comfortable and leads us into uncharted territory so that we can really live by faith and not by sight. As American Christians we often choose “ministry” that may temporarily take us out of our comfort zone – but to find our personal mission will lead us on an adventure that requires things we never expected.
Your mission will be a mission of passion – it will feed you, nurture you, excite you, and drive you with love. I think a lot of people don’t love what they do in life because they are still looking for their mission or they have given up on their mission. I spoke with an attorney a few months ago who said that he did not like the law, but, he was now using his law practice (which was very good) to fund his mission work in Haiti. What a great way to look at his work. He had a call and mission, which was working with a school and clinic in Haiti, but the work he did now was all aimed at funding that mission in his life. Maybe you aren’t doing the work you really want to do but that doesn’t have to prevent you from discovering your mission.
It starts with acts of service and getting outside of yourself. We live in a world of accumulation and disposable income and I admit it is hard to shake that. Let’s try. Let’s find that mission that really lifts all the people around us up. Remember, it is step by step – not all at once.