Trail Guide–Directions for the Journey of a Lifetime XII
The Fifth Step on the Trail – Finding the Perfect Location
The Perfect Spot for a Honeymoon
When my wife and I got married we were little more than two foolish kids totally wrapped up with one another. We had no money for a honeymoon to speak of, so we opted for a hike and camping along part of the Vermont Long Trail. A year before our wedding I scouted out what I believed to be the perfect place. Little Rock Pond was a relatively easy hike, a gorgeous spot, and secluded just enough that we would be able to relax and enjoy our trip.
For me, to locate the perfect place required an investment of my time and effort. I spent several days there on day hikes, fishing, etc. Because my bride to be was not an experienced hiker/camper, especially in rustic settings like this I needed to carefully consider the choice I was making. I would not want our first few days of married life to be spent in misery because I had just haphazardly picked a place that was not the perfect place. It was an investment that paid off.
The Perfect Spot for Ministry
Like the danger of haphazardly choosing a location for a honeymoon, and perhaps even more damaging in many ways, we must carefully seek the place that God has intended for us to serve Him. To do this we have to prayerfully consider several things:
- The Location of the Campsite – The Church Where God Wants You
- The Contents of the Toolbox – The Gifts that God has Given You
- The Employment in the Kingdom – The Job to which God Called You
God Wants to Use You!
It’s an amazing thing to consider that the God of the entire universe has chosen to use me in His kingdom work. Likewise, He has chosen to put you to work as well in His kingdom, and He has a specific plan on how He wants to use you. To that end He has placed within you special and specific gifts that He will utilize to fulfill His plan within you.
Become Part of the Kingdom
The First part of this journey begins when you make the decision to trust Jesus Christ for your salvation. Before God can begin to use you in His kingdom you need to be a citizen of the kingdom—you have to step on to the trail.
Seek the Right Campsite
Once you have made that choice, you have to pick a “campsite.” This is how we’ll refer to the church during this discussion. God intends for His people to connect with a community of faith. You don’t need to be a member of the church to be a child of God, but you do if you want to experience the fullness of what God has planned for you while you are living here on earth. People argue that they don’t want to be part of a church for a wide-variety of reasons, but I believe most of their disenchantment comes as a result of not being in the right place, the right church. We’ll talk more about the fellowship of the believers in a later section, but pay close attention to these following elements as you consider the place God wants you to worship and serve. If you want to be in the right campsite then look for the following:
- The Church must preach and teach the Bible
- The Church must point people to Jesus Christ
- The Church must provide opportunities to serve the Lord
Pray and explore as you seek the right church for you and your family.
Check the Contents of the Toolbox
A couple years ago we went camping in the mountains of Georgia. I had planned and packed everything I thought we would need. I did a pretty good job for the most part. I had almost all that I needed. The only exception was that I didn’t have a mallet to drive the tent stakes into the ground. When I discovered that I thought, “no big deal.” I stepped on the stakes and shoved them into the ground as much as I could with my weight. Then came the night storm. The wind came in and quickly undid my staking job and brought down the shelter we had over the table and food. One little tool not being where I expected it to be and everything came undone. The next trip I had two mallets in my truck.
God has given every believer specific tools according to His plan and purpose for them. Consider the following passage:
Ephesians 4:11-16 (NLT)
11 He is the one who gave these gifts to the church: the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, and the pastors and teachers. 12 Their responsibility is to equip God’s people to do his work and build up the church, the body of Christ, 13 until we come to such unity in our faith and knowledge of God’s Son that we will be mature and full grown in the Lord, measuring up to the full stature of Christ.
14 Then we will no longer be like children, forever changing our minds about what we believe because someone has told us something different or because someone has cleverly lied to us and made the lie sound like the truth. 15 Instead, we will hold to the truth in love, becoming more and more in every way like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church. 16 Under his direction, the whole body is fitted together perfectly. As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love.
According to His plan (direction) He has given each believer the tools needed for the work He has called them to. He wants to use you in His work. This is an incredible privilege and a daunting responsibility. I am always reminded of the weight of this.
It means that we need to spend some time doing an inventory of the tools we have. It means we need to answer some critical questions:
- What are the gifts God has given me?
- How has God wired my personality and passions?
- Where is the need of service that I can best fulfill?
At the end of this section will be several practical tools that provide some ways of discovering what your gifts might be. They are tools that have been prepared and used through the years to help believers on this stage of the journey. However, the most important part of this process is that you seek God’s direction in this process. It is, after all, His plan.
Employment in the Kingdom
- Talk with and pray with your pastor about your gifts and service.
- Look for areas of need that you can’t get off your heart.
- Don’t be afraid to try different things as you are seeking.
Some Areas of Service
Each church has different needs and policies regarding who and where people will serve. Talk with your pastor or other leaders in your church to find out how people are selected or elected for positions of service. Here are some areas that you might consider for service that are common to most churches:
- Assist a Sunday School Class
- Set-Up and/or Clean Up from Events
- Reading in Worship Service
- Singing or Instrument Playing
- Serving in Nursing Home/Prison Ministry
- Driving a Bus
- Cleaning Church, Grounds, Buildings
- Writing Notes and Cards to Shut-ins, Visitors, MIA members
- Encouraging Others
- Hosting a Small Group in your home
- Teaching/Facilitating a Small Group
- Helping people who are in need
This is certainly not an exhaustive list. Look for places to serve and then get to work.
(There’s more to come so keep watching.)