Whoever brings blessing will be enriched, and one who waters will himself be watered. Proverbs 11:25
The majority of my work is cross-cultural; I work with people whose lifestyles, behaviors, and world view is often different from mine. I am a professional servant. My job is to direct, teach, fund, recruit, orient, pray, and do numerous other ministries in preparing missioners for being the hands and feet of Christ in other countries. And conversely, I work with indigenous folks who are our partners in mission. There are other activities in which God has placed me: mentoring, teaching, showing hospitality, encouraging, and living out the faith he’s placed in me.
I am still amazed after all these years to discover that the helping, the mentoring, the teaching, the orientation, and all the things I mentioned frequently seem more directed toward transforming me than flowing out of me. Although I know God has various tasks for me, he often has to stop me short to see that the challenge I’ve accepted is more for my benefit and growth than it is for the person I think I am helping.
When John admitted that he must personally decrease so that Jesus could increase in him, he, more than likely, didn’t realize that he would be facing death for the cause of Christ. And that’s what God calls us to more and more—death to ourselves, our desires, our indulgences, all the non-Christ-like-ness that remains in us. While we may think ministry is all outflow, I’m thinking that God’s grace assures that the flow goes two ways—out and in.
It’s really humbling and wonderfully joyous to be caught up abruptly and made to recognize that something we take on in faith and perhaps a bit of apprehension is just another vehicle through which God will form us into his image while he’s pouring out his blessing for another. Instead of complaining about that person who doesn’t understand, doesn’t cooperate, doesn’t do it right, is different, has different ideas, and so on, perhaps we might begin asking What do you want to teach me in this? What spiritual fruit might be needed for this ministry? How can I humble myself so that Christ’s love flows out for his purposes rather than my ideas of best practices?
Helping goes both ways.
Father, when we find ourselves in uncomfortable positions when we think we’re helping, cause us to realize that you are also working in us and not just through us. In Jesus’ name. AMEN.