Thursday, June 09, 2005

Like the importunate widow...

As I have shared with many of you, the realities of MPD require that we ask for appointments at a rate about three per actual appointment. Coupled with the fact that we desire to have about 10-15 appointments per week and we have to call roughly three or four times as many people in order to speak to those 30-45, we tend to make 120-150 calls each week.

Thus, with other forms of communication and the time of actual appointments and management of schedule, we often spend more than 60 hours per week on MPD. Not everyone is aware of that, I understand--but it's important for those of you who are our partners to understand and pray for us as we're in this process. Not only for spiritual fortitude and insight for the process--but also for sustained vision for the call before us. My point is that, especially expressing it this way, a task-oriented person can get so caught up in the task that they lose sight of the purpose of the task.

I once heard an apt illustration once of the difference between a manager and a leader. On a safari through dense jungle, a good manager is the one who discerns the need to keep the machetes sharpened, cut just the right way and rotate those in the forefront blazing the trail to keep fresh strength applied to the task. The leader is the guy who climbs the tree and tells him they're going the wrong way. Too often, the manager side of us protests, "Shut up! We're making great progress."

It's easy to get caught up in the task of attaining x number of telephone calls per week or x number of appointments a week without discerning that that's not the point. Even $x new support raised per week is not the point. The point is the vision of the high calling of God. We have to keep that in sharp focus. We pray our team members can keep that in sharp focus as well.

A recent telephone conversation with a busy Christian illustrated the point: "We've discussed it," the individual said, "and decided to contribute to your ministry. Your persistence [in contacting us despite our busy schedule] reminds us of the importunate widow and convinces us that your call must be genuine." We were of course pleased with the comparison. Having already seen today's "My Utmost For His Highest" devotional meditation, it made us feel affirmed in our persistent search for God's abundant blessing. As a related devotional expresses it, it's our job to hang on to our confidence in Him even when He seems "enshrouded."

Several individuals have expressed wonder, in fact, that we have persisted in spite of the necessity to pack up and move across the country, leaving our home unsold in California, staying in cramped quarters with another family, go through hurricanes, health issues with Luke, a second move to Aiken, SC, work so hard in calling and speaking (uncomfortable activities at the beginning for us) to raise funds to provide a salary less than half what I made in CA, all the while looking forward to moving back to Orlando...which, frankly, we're not big fans of. The traffic is going to be worse, if anything, than Orange County, CA, insurance is more expensive...our experience certainly doesn't do anything to recommend the weather...and even housing is currently more expensive than when we purchased our home in Diamond Bar.

The answer is, making a comfortable life in California was a lesson for us. Purpose is what it's all about. If your purpose in life is to be comfortable and to delight your imagination, go where your ambition leads you. If your purpose in life is to leverage your temporal existence for God's glory and others' eternity, go where God leads you. We can't brag about it because, believe me, it's not any virtue in us that makes us this way--our attitude is very poor sometimes--but it is God who will not let us go.

If you are a child of God, the best possible thing you can do is to so orient your life that what is in the Lord's best interest is becomes your best interest.

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