I don’t know if I’m the only one, but I find myself constantly tempted by the ease of operating on autopilot. I understand the importance of examining my heart’s motives, letting the Lord search me, and listening for His leadership. More often than not, though, my mode of operation is to say yes to every request that comes my way and try and do all of the things until I can’t anymore, and find myself wondering why I am doing any of them.
In the past few months, I have run up against a dozen reminders to ask why, from staff meetings at work centering around articulating vision, to my own exhaustion. The summer seemed like a good season to set aside some intentional time for reflection, so I’ve been doing that.
Every time I’ve found myself in a place of anxiety, frustration, or insecurity, I’ve been trying to pause in the presence of Jesus. To set aside my to-do list and take a walk, if possible, and listen to Him. In those moments, I’ve consistently sensed Him reminding my heart that He is enough for me, and I’m called to please Him, not other people. I have yet to know what a version of myself that is fully devoted to Him and no one else, obedient to His truth and not just the desires of other people, would look like. I don’t think I will experience that fully in this life, but, little by little, I feel like that is what Jesus is shaping me into.
I just finished reading the book of Jeremiah recently, and seeing all of the instances where the Israelites were promised that their lives would be spared if they didn’t do the things that made sense, like fighting to defend themselves or running away in the face of danger. I’m struck by the fact that calling doesn’t always make sense, even though I want it to. In this next season, I don’t just want to do the things that make sense. I want to listen to the voice of Jesus over the circumstances.
I struggle often with feeling bitter and resentful when I make choices just out of what makes sense, or out of a desire to please others over Jesus. Since people-pleasing is my default position for decision-making, I have to pause and intentionally reorient my heart to listen to Jesus first. Because I believe that, when you’re called, you’re not resentful. When you’re called, you’re willing to be foolish, weak, dishonored, hungry, thirsty, in rags, brutally treated, and to work hard, because the people you’re serving feel like your dear children (1 Cor.). I want to be able to become all things to all people, like Paul, but I also want to remember that living that sort of sacrificial life is a choice that I’m making.
Since work is what I spend most of my time doing, I’ve been thinking a lot about my “why” there. Of course, the simple answer is that Jesus has called me to serve the Underground through the Finance Department for a season. In this time of reflection, though, I do want to honestly evaluate the purpose of my work, so that I can focus on improving it, and continue to serve with a joyful heart. I also want to investigate how the way God designed me, with my unique personality and gifts, fits into what He’s doing in the Finance Department. How can my attention to detail and love of organizing serve the Underground?
The way we are currently serving some of our newest microchurches is by making it possible for these leaders to receive the generosity of caring donors. Through this process, these leaders don’t have to pay for and serve the people Jesus has called them to alone. When I think about some of our older microchurches, who are actually transitioning to become their own 501(c)(3)s, that process also feels like a way for them to not be alone in their ministry. We are walking them through the stages of incorporation, which includes forming boards and teams. This strange connection between finances and missional community is beautiful and inspirational to me.
Why am I currently trying to organize some of our organizational documents and forms and policies? So that leaders can understand these things, and we can help them think creatively about their financial spending and prioritizing. Why do I review and record the transactions in our bank account daily? So that we can demonstrate accountability to our donors and our microchurches’ donors for the funds they’re entrusting to us. Overall, I think that so much of my job in the Finance Department is making something that seems scary and complicated and mysterious doable. Something like payroll, that’s tricky to figure out, but literally makes it possible for people to do what God is calling them to as a job. Particularly as someone who started this job, over a year and a half ago now, without any prior background in Finance, I love being able to look at people and tell them that they can learn how these processes work and develop their own systems- because I’m doing it, and I never imagined that I would be able to. And it has been so worthwhile to see how those processes and systems have served work that is building the kingdom.
I’m grateful to have taken some time to recommit my heart fully to my work in the Underground Network’s Finance Department, as well as the home church and community that I love. I’m eager to see what new things can grow out of this season of evaluation and reflection. Are there areas of your life where you need to ask Jesus for a fresh word or vision? What does obedience to His voice look like in this particular moment in time for you?