A Bigger Perspective
In college, I had a professor that liked to say, “Leaders are learners, and if you’re not learning, you’re not leading.” If I am honest, it was said so often that it rose to the level of ad nauseum. But, here’s the thing, I didn’t forget it, and I really do agree with that statement! They would often follow up the mantra with another, “If you read one author, you become a clone. When you read two, you become confused. And, when you read 10,000, you become informed.” This professor was trying to instill in us the need to gain a bigger perspective.
So, here I am today, and I read all kinds of things. I read about topics that are not in my field. I read authors I agree with and those I disagree with… some I disagree quite strongly with. In doing that, I have found it has had a significant impact on me; I now understand what I truly believe and the essentials of those beliefs with greater clarity. And, I have come to understand a great many more perspectives and experiences than if I only had drawn on a very limited pool or only on my own lived experiences. Clarity was offered to me by pursuing a bigger perspective.
Short-term mission opportunities have had the same effect on my life. If I am honest, I can quickly have a narrow view of church and forget that as a Christian, I am part of a historical and global body. Yes, I love my local church, but my local church is just one part and expression of the 2.38 billion Christians in the world today. And, do you know what? We are all united by Christ. That is truly astounding but hard to comprehend, right? In 2017, I led a team of students and adults from our church to serve in Ensenada, Mexico. The vast majority of those on the trip said the most powerful experience was the church service we had in the community we were working in. Why? Because they gained a bigger perspective on the global church that night. They heard preaching in English that was translated into Spanish, and through the power of the Holy Spirit, it moved in the hearts of English speakers as much as Spanish speakers. They sang songs of praise in Spanish and English and tangibly understood that everyone was praising the same God with all their hearts. And then, they prayed for each other. Spanish speakers prayed in Spanish, English speakers in English, and very few understood what was being prayed over them, but they felt unified, encouraged, and powerful presence of the Spirit of God. By going and stepping into an experience that was different, new, and even nerve-wracking, they gained a bigger and more complete perspective of the Church and the work of Jesus.
The other really important thing that happens in our lives when we are willing to step into new experiences with God by stepping into new places is that we grow in our awareness of God’s ability to work through us and the opportunities that are around us. So often, one week away on a short-term trip is really a training week for the other 51 weeks of our lives. God moves powerfully on mission because we are looking and expecting him to. He can move powerfully in our everyday lives as well. A short-term trip can unlock that bigger perspective for us.
I hope you join us for our Reach Sunday service this Sunday (7/17). We are going to hear stories about how God gave a bigger perspective to those who have gone on short-term opportunities and how he might just call you to a long-term opportunity.