Which Piece of the Puzzle are You? By Samantha A. Wright

teamwork-gold pieces of puzzle

When the LIFT team members met in October, we discussed the account of Naaman (2nd Kings) and the one theme that stood out is that God wants to use each one of us. Many of you will remember Naaman, the Aramean army commander with leprosy who was healed by bathing seven times in the river Jordan. Seven individuals are involved in the account that God used in specific ways~Naaman, a young servant girl, King of Syria-King of Israel, Elisha’s servant Gehazi,Elisha the prophet, and Naaman’s servant.

Before we look at how God used each of these individuals, lets set the scene from Naaman’s perspective. At first glance, Naaman appears to be the main character. He is devastated when he discovers he has leprosy (the AIDS of the ancient world). He sees a ray of hope when he hears that a prophet of Yahweh can heal him. Naaman is insulted and angry when the prophet Elisha sent a messenger in his place and told Naaman to bathe in the Jordan River. (vs. 11) Ultimately, Naaman begrudingly obeys the prophet and is healed. (vs. 14) Healed, Naaman finds the peace only God can give and returns to Elisha, acknowledging that “there is no God of all the world except in Israel.” (vs. 15)

But God was not just at work in Naaman’s life. He was using an unlikely group of characters to demonstrate His power. Each of the individuals had a role to play—a job to do for God…

Young servant girl-had information that would help Naaman. She was brave enough to speak out.

King of Syria-sent a letter on Naaman’s behalf. He used his influence to help Naaman, but there was a risk involved if Naaman misused the recommendation.

King of Israel-had to trust he wasn’t being tricked.

Elisha’s Servant, Gahazi-acted on behalf of Elisha and approached Naaman even though Naaman was considered unclean. Gahazi had to remain in seclusion for 7 days before he would be considered clean.

Elisha the Prophet-doing what God had designed him to do. Elisha wanted to be God’s agent one hundred percent in whatever way the Lord chose to use him. Elisha obeyed completely, and uniquely so God received the glory.

Naaman’s Servant—urged Naaman to obey even if it wasn’t what Naaman expected or felt was appropriate.

As we look at each of these individuals, they EACH had a part in God’s divine plan. What if one of them would have said, “No, I don’t want to do that. Someone else will do it”? What about you? Are you Naaman and in the stages of devastation, hopefulness, angry and disgruntled? Or are you a servant girl who needs to give information to someone you are intimidated by? What about the king of Syria or king of Israel? Do you need to vouch for someone or trust someone you’re hesitant to trust? Then there’s Elisha…are you doing what God has asked you to do? Or what about Naaman’s servant? Do you need to tell someone in leadership something that is on your heart but are scared to death because they’re ‘the boss?’

What is God asking you to do today that you are resisting? Wouldn’t it be a blessing if God and others around you knew you were playing your part in God’s grand purpose and could say, ‘there is no God in the world, except the God of the Bible.”

For more about Samantha A. Wright

Begin With the End in Mind by Dr. Kristin Beasley

leadership penguins

I’ve been thinking about leadership and vision lately. As the leader of a new ministry I am constantly thinking and dreaming: Where are we going? Who do we want to be? What should this ministry look like? What does it look like if we “win”? In other words, what is the goal? And what do I do first? Second? Third? These thoughts can be exciting but also a little daunting. They are exciting because of all the opportunities out there to impact lives, daunting because of the constant need to prioritize, keep the main thing the main thing and lead others toward the goal. Yet I find encouragement by regularly looking at the life of Christ

What is a leader? A leader is someone who has followers, and who influences others. Jesus is our prime example of a sacrificial servant leader who had vision. He guided and directed–but He also provided vision for a positive future. He was a visionary leader. It has been said that vision is the “act or power of anticipating that which will or may come to be”. Doesn’t that sound like our Lord? He knew why He was here (His mission statement is in Luke 19:10). He knew where He was going. He knew where He wanted His followers to go (to reach the ends of the earth with a message of hope and then join Him in heaven). He kept the main thing the main thing and He began with the end in mind.

Do you as a leader know where you are going? Do you know where you want to take those who are following you? Do you know who you want to be? What would you do in your ministry if you knew you couldn’t fail? What would “win” look like for your ministry? Don’t be afraid to think and dream about “the end”: where you would like your ministry team (including yourself) to end up.

It is fun but also a challenge to dream in the future. But we must dream…and dream big! Henrietta Mears, a tremendous woman of God who, a couple generations ago, was used mightily in kingdom work said, “Dream Big Dreams: There is no magic in small plans.” Don’t worry about the money, or what you need to get there. When you dream there are only opportunities, not obstacles. Be willing to be stretched into the vision God has for you. Prayerfully listen, and begin building the ideas. Write them down. And then tell people. And you will have followers who come alongside because they believe in the vision. Jesus received His vision from the Father and then He told people about it. He never wavered from staying the course, He set goals to get there, and He began with the end in mind! Follow His lead…and become a visionary leader.

For more about Dr. Kristin Beasley

The Starbucks Parallel~Relating to Younger Women Today By: Caye Siller

Relating to Younger Women Today

Relating to Younger Women Today

It would be interesting to parallel mentoring younger women to an experience at Starbucks. Have you ever sat there and just taken in the entire environment? Talk about community! From the minute you walk in you feel like you are at home. People are friendly and most are there just to sit and enjoy something everyone else has in common. COFFEE! You walk up to the counter and have a million options at your disposal. “Tall, Carmel, Light, Frozen, FRAPPUCCINO®!” Suddenly, you feel empowered and excited about what is to come. You go to find a seat and have another sea of options: Tall table or short? Chair or couch? Cinnamon or Cream? No matter where you go, Starbucks is the same. It’s dependable, consistent and yet open ended and different. Everyone is welcome there and yes, you see them all; from the gothic girl with wildly spiked hair to the business lady with her locks tucked neatly into a tight bun. They all sit next to each other and its ok….as a matter of fact, it’s one of the only places in our culture that it is ok. Try to imagine a business woman next to a Gothic at your own local church….now that’s an exciting proposition to say the least! Why? Could it be that Jesus would be more in his element at Starbucks than in the pew? A friend of mine said that Starbucks is like the Christian version of a bar. Until Starbucks there were not many places to just hang out with people unless you were drinking beer. You can even go to Starbucks and just be alone, reading your paper and listening to smooth jazz from overhead. Wow, what a place! I didn’t even like coffee….but I loved the place. Don’t you think the church should be that place? Non-believers could love the place and then fall in love with the person who makes it run – Jesus the barista. What a concept! When ministering to younger women it’s important that you become that place. The place that is inviting, safe and open ended. Young women today want to be cared for and sought after but sometimes they give off an impression that they don’t need it. That’s because they live in a culture that demands that they make it on their own and prove that they have what it takes. But one of the best ways to invite a younger woman to join you is to say something like, “I’d love to hear your story, you seem like you really have a heart for God.” That interest on your part can be so powerful and sharing a story is a nonthreatening and inviting prospect to a younger woman. Here are a few principles to remember when you interact with a younger woman: Learn: Show a young woman that she has things to teach you as well. I have a mentor who has met with me since I was twelve. She has continued to care for me as a spiritual Mom through many seasons of my life. Over the years technology has changed. This last year she made the straining effort to try to speak my language through text messaging. I was so amazed and touched that she would do this just for me, especially when I could tell it was hard and even stressful at first. Over the years, we both have taught each other a lot about life and the Lord because she desires to learn from me as well. Listen: We don’t need answers, solutions or counsel until you have shown that you care about our journey and opinions. Learn to be comfortable without resolve or closure. And if you do have advice, learn to communicate through a question, like, “Why do you think God let that happen to you?”. As an older Christian woman you have so much wisdom, but it takes humility for a woman to ask a question when she already knows the answer. What do you want this young woman to see? How can you help her discover it without giving her the answer? This process takes practice but to a young woman it helps her feel like you were the guide but she discovered it on her on. Laugh: There is nothing more refreshing than a woman who laughs. There is something about laughter that invites a person to drop their guard and be themselves. If you can get a younger woman laughing you have become real and relatable to her. May God bless you and encourage you as you press on in a changing world. His truth and His Son will always remain relevant!

It would be interesting to parallel mentoring younger women to an experience at Starbucks. Have you ever sat there and just taken in the entire environment? Talk about community! From the minute you walk in you feel like you are at home. People are friendly and most are there just to sit and enjoy something everyone else has in common. COFFEE! You walk up to the counter and have a million options at your disposal. “Tall, Carmel, Light, Frozen, FRAPPUCCINO®!” Suddenly, you feel empowered and excited about what is to come. You go to find a seat and have another sea of options: Tall table or short? Chair or couch? Cinnamon or Cream? No matter where you go, Starbucks is the same. It’s dependable, consistent and yet open ended and different. Everyone is welcome there and yes, you see them all; from the gothic girl with wildly spiked hair to the business lady with her locks tucked neatly into a tight bun. They all sit next to each other and its ok….as a matter of fact, it’s one of the only places in our culture that it is ok.

Try to imagine a business woman next to a gothic at your own local church….now that’s an exciting proposition to say the least! Why? Could it be that Jesus would be more in his element at Starbucks than in the pew? A friend of mine said that Starbucks is like the Christian version of a bar. Until Starbucks there were not many places to just hang out with people unless you were drinking beer. You can even go to Starbucks and just be alone, reading your paper and listening to smooth jazz from overhead. Wow, what a place! I didn’t even like coffee….but I loved the place. Don’t you think the church should be that place? Non-believers could love the place and then fall in love with the person who makes it run – Jesus the barista. What a concept!

When ministering to younger women it’s important that you become that place. The place that is inviting, safe and open ended. Young women today want to be cared for and sought after but sometimes they give off an impression that they don’t need it. That’s because they live in a culture that demands that they make it on their own and prove that they have what it takes. But one of the best ways to invite a younger woman to join you is to say something like, “I’d love to hear your story, you seem like you really have a heart for God.” That interest on your part can be so powerful and sharing a story is a nonthreatening and inviting prospect to a younger woman. Here are a few principles to remember when you interact with a younger woman:

Learn: Show a young woman that she has things to teach you as well. I have a mentor who has met with me since I was twelve. She has continued to care for me as a spiritual Mom through many seasons of my life. Over the years technology has changed. This last year she made the straining effort to try to speak my language through text messaging. I was so amazed and touched that she would do this just for me, especially when I could tell it was hard and even stressful at first. Over the years, we both have taught each other a lot about life and the Lord because she desires to learn from me as well.

Listen: We don’t need answers, solutions or counsel until you have shown that you care about our journey and opinions. Learn to be comfortable without resolve or closure. And if you do have advice, learn to communicate through a question, like, “Why do you think God let that happen to you?”. As an older Christian woman you have so much wisdom, but it takes humility for a woman to ask a question when she already knows the answer. What do you want this young woman to see? How can you help her discover it without giving her the answer? This process takes practice but to a young woman it helps her feel like you were the guide but she discovered it on her own.

Laugh: There is nothing more refreshing than a woman who laughs. There is something about laughter that invites a person to drop their guard and be themselves. If you can get a younger woman laughing you have become real and relatable to her. May God bless you and encourage you as you press on in a changing world. His truth and His Son will always remain relevant!