Thursday, May 18, 2023

Prayer with Ministry Partners

Written before leaving University Baptist Church

Circa 2016

In a rhythm of communication with you, I pause with a grateful heart.  You're teaching me how to win.  I am grateful for I Corinthians 9:24-27 and an unapologetic call to win.  I want to win.  I want to win.  You won the victory and I want to learn how to win.

I know that in a race, every runner runs but only one gets the prize.  I've run in races and watched others get prizes.  I want to run in such a way as to get the prize of seeing all peoples of the world know, worship and grow as disciples of Jesus Christ.  You've shown me what a full room looks like in the Sunday switches to the prayer room, and I want more.  You've brought me here.   You've beckoned me to East Lansing.  First person language has been avoided but I, I, I WANT TO WIN!

I know that everyone who competes in the games enters into strict training.  They do it for a crown that will not last but I am entering into strict training for a crown that will last forever.  Triathlon training has taught me why strict training is so important.   I see in Jimi Young a window / a choice.  He's inviting me to train the same year Steve Shadrach is inviting me to win at full support the same year you invited me to pivot on Sunday mornings that same year Christian and Catherine are preparing to enter new buildings.  Now is the time.

I want to win, keep and lift in every area of my life.

I want to win your satisfaction with my life.  You've given salvation but shown me clearly that a "well done" is tied to what I do after accepting salvation.  Matthew 25:14-30 spurs me to act and win.  You've given me one talent in the starting point of building the support team.  I have one talent and like the servant am afraid sometimes.  I am also in relationship with three and five talent servants.  What is done with a little can be done with much.  Who are the three talent college ministers I can add to my accountability team?  Who can coach me to win the rest of my support team?  Andrew Chesebro, Derek DiCesar, Shaylen Jackson.

I want to keep your satisfaction with my life.  A crown that will not last cannot be kept.  I want a crown, and your satisfaction, to last forever.  Therefore I am not running aimlessly; I am not shadowboxing.  I give my body a blow and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I will not be disqualified for the prize.  I want to win.

To win the prize of a support team, I will raise $5,833 in monthly support by conducting God Asks and tending partnerships.  To keep the prize of a fully-funded support team, I will send monthly newsletters, invite onto service projects and 


You've answered questions asked seven years ago.  Instead of Shaylen, Andrew or Derek, You sent Keva Ambre as a coach.  You knew that I'd be done at UBC, even as the keystrokes tumbled.  You knew about Reliant and ICPC and the Billy Graham Rapid Response Team.  You knew, and yet You absorbed my unknowing state.

You loved me, and love me, in my ignorance.  As I pray, still I am ignorant, yet You love me.  Looking back on a prayer helps frame what I'm looking at in prayer today.  Today's commitment to interceding for 158+ ministry partners is fraught with ignorance.  Uninformed, disconnected and separated from the women, men and businesses You've set aside for this season of ministry, what choice do I have but to trust You?  How else may I fulfill the assignment of praying for them except to release them to You?

My relationship with ministry partners is a fragile trust.  They give because You've moved their hearts but it seems I have to ask.  Asking changes the relationship with them but in ways I didn't expect.  It deepens - most of the time - the bond.  When they call, I pick up.  When it's time to pray, they are included in the inside out regiment.  When the annual travel calendar is set, their hometowns are considered.  By the power of the Holy Spirit, You've entrusted relationships with Your children.

Would I be in relationship with so many, so intimately, without missionary activity?  What would be the glue holding us together in regular text messages, emails and broken bread?  What would be the excuse for me dropping out of the sky to ask, "What am I interrupting with this call?"  Why would I habitually take the time to listen to their lives and take notes so I don't forget?  Without Christian outreach among first responders, would I pause to reread the notes on our last conversation before reaching out again?  Would infrastructure, to help them feel loved by picking up where we left off months ago, be so fastidiously tended without the press of ministry employment?  Are you using the weight of the chaplaincy to squeeze friendship out of a normally selfish individual?

What is a friend, except someone who is lovingly available?  A support raising lifestyle, ideally, limits the number of people on the team; too many people and the love is wide but thin.  Limiting the number of recipients means each one gets a deeper touch.  You've given all the ministry partners we need for now, but caring for them is my assignment.  Is that why You took me through 14 years of parish ministry: to show me how to love a group of people?  Leading people is probably something other preachers have done well but in this season there really isn't anyone to lead.

Cops are embedded in a command structure and will not do anything you ask them to do without checking with command first.  Each prayer partner may be asked to intercede but mention of leadership in prayer only leaves room for You, our leader.  Who do I lead in prayer support?  Financial support is the same thing...we may share the vision with Your people but leading them toward giving is again Your thing.  Perhaps a little leadership in the family, but not really.  The children have their own ideas and efforts to disabuse youth of exuberance lead to recalcitrance or rage.  I don't really even lead our children.

Hundreds of people, You've placed around me, but the calling is to love rather than lead.  Kindness, a listening ear and regular communication are ways to love.  Picking up the check, driving rather than meeting in the middle and sending cards instead of emails are ways to love.  Employment is the thing I need to do when I get out of bed.  Reliant employs me as a support-raising missionary.  If I raise support, I'm doing my job and if there is a support deficit, it means I have not done my job.  In year 5 of the work, prayer is revealing that raising support is very difficult if there's no love.

If a transactional approach to support raising is adopted, each nickel is a struggle to gather.  If however people feel loved and heard, resources flow more fluidly.  Appointments, follow up and disappointments are still required but satisfaction with a "no" is possible if the meeting and exchanges have been loving.  I choose love.

I choose to place each officer, 911 operator, prayer and financial partner before You today.  I can name some but You know them all.  I lay them before You today, in the rays of Your presence, and ask You to cleanse and heal.  Will You take the chill of an indifferent world out of their bones?  Will You send prompts and signs of Your everlasting trustworthiness?  As they go out and come in, will You expose the difference between the whole wide world and their souls?  May all of Creation be used to steer them toward a personal relationship with You?  May Christian community be exposed as an option for them to risk being known?  Will You include me in the number experiencing answers to rambling prayer?

What You're really calling me to do is to love, huh?

I can do that.

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