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Saturday, August 26, 2006

My Favorite Part of My Job

My favorite part about my "job" is hanging out with people. Even if it's just sitting across from a friend in a coffee shop, I enjoy being in the moment of spending time with them. Any time that I have with a national is a gift from God. Really. There's no way someone would want to spend time with me other than God compelling him do do so. I am literally that uninteresting. It actually took some time for me to get used to having people from here call and invite me to hang out with them. For the first couple of years, it was all I could do to keep from asking "Why are you asking me, of all people?" But God called me here to minister to people, so I know what (Who) motivates them.

I love that subtle pressure to think of something interesting to talk about, to keep the conversation going with witty questions and by showing interest in the other person. Eventually, you get to the kind of casual interaction that is so natural that you don't mind the times you run out of things to say. At that point, you're in a constant attitude of prayer as the Spirit prompts you to say the right thing at the right time. My friend shares about a struggle; I want to express my sympathy without coming across as condescending. He thinks out loud about world events; I learn what's important to him. I want to encourage him in the Truth, so I'm prayerfully considering what he needs from me. It's in that relational balance and personal human interaction that ministry really happens, and Truth is shared. People don't feel like targets, and I don't feel fake.

And the best part about it? I'm intentionally in touch with God, who knows both my friend and me inside and out. I don't have to guess what he needs; God already knows. There's not some terrible spiritual drain on me, because God uses my friend to minister to me as well. I open up and share personal struggles, I honestly relate the difficulty of working out my faith, and he sees, first hand, what life in Christ is like. These are the times I see God working. I'm reminded what He's called me here to do, and I'm humbled as I remember that I'm insignificant in the whole process. I am thankful that I get to interact with nationals. That's my favorite part of my job.


Melly Durham said...

I came to your site via Mentanna and just wanted to say that I was encouraged by your entry. Thanks for sharing!
- sister in Christ, Melly

Paul Burleson said...

Step Child,

You have captured in essence the heart of a seminar attended many years ago, the result of which was a profound discovery about relationships that has done me well for several years now. Actually two things that culminated in one principle.

First was the fact that I didn't have to have answers/responses/insights concerning every statement made by a person with whom I had a conversation. Maybe others knew that but my Fourth Person of the Godhead concept of ministry led me to another conclusion regrettably.

The other was I learn more by simply listening and enjoying what is being said,, because it lets me in on the real person, than trying to make judgements on the correctness of what has been said. [That correctness obviously was judged by it's relation to my opinion.]

The principle was..."listening is as important to communication as talking is."

You would have had to know me back then to see how radical and profound that was to me.

You, obviously, for whatever reason, have learned that too. Good for you.

And, as usual, you've been prayed for this week.


shannon said...


thank you thank you thank you!

this is such an encouraging post especially in light of the fact that as you know lara and I are persuing the call to become missionaries (hopefully in your neck of the woods!).

even though we both know this is what God has for us, there are times I can't help but wonder how in the world he would be able to use us at all. i mean, we do have gifts but i think that in the traditional context of evangelism we would probably fall short.

but listening and being a friend is something that we're both very good at so your post gives me hope!

-shannon barrett