Do, do, do, that sounds a bit like you!
STOP! You might actually learn something…
If you other pioneers out there are anything like me, then you like to be busy doing stuff, and I guess in the early stages of any type of pioneering ministry, this is a must if we are ever going to achieve anything of lasting significance.
However, in recent months God has really been teaching me a lot about the benefit of reflection, thinking, planning, mining my own experience, learning from these experiences and giving myself time to be still before God.
In the first 4 years of setting up the work of Street Connect, it has all been a bit of a whirlwind of activity, none more so than my own personal activity. I was involved in almost every area of the work, and have been involved in every area at some point in time from cleaning to fundraising, on the streets to leadership meetings, both staff and client support and much more! At Street Connect we support people with various life controlling issues such as addictions, homelessness, isolation and mental health through various interventions such as street work, drop-in cafes, recovery groups, rehab referrals, aftercare support, Christian Discipleship and 1-2-1 support.
So coming from someone who has an almost endless amount of energy for doing stuff (emphasis on almost, as all this work and kids does eventually start taking it out of you), it was going to have to take a supernatural act of God to start a shift in the way I do things.
Since becoming a Christian over 10 years ago, one of my all-time favourite scriptures has been:
Trust in the Lord with all your heart, lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths. Proverbs 3:5-6
On reflection and with the benefit of hindsight, about this time last year, I can look back and see how God has been shifting me away from so much direct ministry more towards indirect ministry. From connecting on the front line, to stepping back and thinking more about the bigger picture, after training others to take on my role. Now for an action person like myself, this has been tough going and there has been a lot of wrestling between myself and God in prayer and has led to a lot of soul searching on my part.
Letting go of the things we love
Thankfully God in His infinite wisdom knows way better than we do, about the best way to roll out our lives and develop us through the different stages of our journey. I was so involved in so many things ‘Street Connect’ that I was starting to feel the physical effects of all this, as well as having an inward battle of should I still be so heavily involved on the ground or should I be taking a step back to concentrate more on the development of the team and the overall outworking of our vision. Deep down I knew the answer was that God wanted me leading the organisation which meant letting go of some of the things I so loved doing, and that were the reason I started the work in the first place.
Frontline ministry has proved to be my ‘comfort zone’ in amongst all the doing and busyness of the work, but God was wanting to do something more in my life, stretching me in the process, and bring out some strengths and qualities I was unaware that were even there. I have to admit that it was hard letting go of a lot of this, but throughout this whole process, I have been learning so much more about myself, about how we are actually going to achieve the vision God gave us, and the benefits of stopping, and taking time to assess, reflect and plan, whilst God has been doing this next stage of development in me, and within the organisation. I have also seen a shift in my passion throughout this whole process, as I am now so much more passionate about the development of the work than just actually doing the work.
A different type of doing that gets even better results.
I guess what I am trying to say here is that I have been intentionally over the past 6 months or so been setting aside time to STOP, which for me has meant that I now schedule in my diary each week, time for planning, thinking and reflecting which for sure, have never really been part of my diary before. This has taken me into a richness of self-awareness, God consciousness and enabled me to lift my head from the doing of the work to prayerfully planning and thinking over the next stages of the development of the work and strategically looking at the outworking of achieving our God given vision.
This is where the above scripture comes into play, where trusting God is so vital for pioneering leaders and not leaning on our own understanding and natural ways of doing things, and when we take the time to stop and bring all our hopes, plans and ambitions into submission to His will, He promises to direct our paths.
Life is busy, work is demanding, we can’t allow ourselves to just be responsive to the need, but need to take time out to allow God to minister to us. We need to help him help us to develop the direction of what we are doing, by acknowledging Him in all our ways and allowing Him to direct our steps. This will help us bear much fruit, and enable us to achieve more than we could ever think, hope or imagine. It will enable us to move from a place of merely achieving success to our work also having a lasting significance.
Oh and I have to finish on this note. Throughout this whole process, I have learned to be able to satisfy my longing for doing, in a completely new way, which now paradoxically, means taking time to stop has actually become a completely new way of doing. One way for doers to help themselves do more reflection, planning and contemplation is just to reframe them not as the opposite of getting stuff done, but just a different type of doing that gets even better results.
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