Lightening up and Common burdens

I can put too much pressure on myself to make things happen that only God can accomplish.  Whether it is raising almost $450k over the next three years, laying out an effective strategy for the growth and development of a church in Worcester, leading Christians together in this work, or seeing non-Christians convert and join our efforts – all of these and many other aspects of my “job description” are beyond me.  When I stop and think through my limitations and the tasks ahead I can despair, take too much on my shoulders, or trust God.  (Usually it is a combination of all three).

In the past few weeks we’ve seen God answering our prayers and those of many who have come alongside us.  The quickest way to summarize a half dozen stories is that we’ve prayed God would be at work ahead of us arriving in Worcester, preparing people so that we could connect and minister to them.   We’ve prayed for inroads with a diverse cross section of the city, for a mix of mature Christians, non-Christians, and newer believers.  We’ve prayed for a home that could bridge different worlds and offer God’s welcome to many.   We’ve prayed that God would provide for all of our needs.  We’ve seen answers to these prayers and indications of God’s unique calling for us in Worcester.  We are being encouraged to trust God and as this happens both the sense of pressure and despair have less power.  And so we see God answering another prayer, that we would believe him more and more.  Church planting is a lot more fun when I trust God.  I know that I should operate with a sense of expectancy and it is good to grow in this area.

5427701194_8203891852Another way in which God has helped me walk towards the challenges ahead of us was through a program on NPR called Innovation Hub.  The head of a small business startup was being interviewed about his work in vaccine stabilization.  He is a Harvard grad who won a start up competition for his company which is seeking to stabilize vaccines so they do not need refrigeration.  The refrigeration of vaccines is a huge obstacle to their dissemination to needy populations all over the world.  There were three parts of the interview that stood out and had lots of commonalities with church planting.

First, he talked about challenges of looking for funding.  His wife worked nights while he was out raising capital.  Other groups had better presentations, established track records of success, and other advantages.  Fundraising is necessary in all sorts of fields, exposes our vulnerabilities, and is often accompanied by challenging situations as we try to pay the bills until fully funded.  financial situations.

Second, he spoke of the importance of working with a team.  The best thing about working with a team is that usually at least one person is encouraged.  Invariably in entrepreneurial work you get worn down, discouraged, and depressed.  But that one person who is encouraged can remind everyone else of the big picture and why we’re doing this crazy sort of thing.

Third, the interviewer asked the CEO of the startup who was going to pay for their product.  Those who will benefit most from vaccines that are heat resistant are the world’s poor.  How will this company make any money?  The CEO offered some reasoning as to how they could be profitable but eventually said, “well, it needs to be done.”  Even if our efforts cannot turn a profit this work needs to happen and will help so many people.

While my entrepreneurial work is very different than his, there are a lot of parallels and simply sharing a common burden helps me go forward.  If someone is willing to go through the hardships and risks of starting something new for the benefit of others, shouldn’t I as a Christian be willing to do so as well?

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