How to Reframe Failure in Life and Ministry

How to Reframe Failure in Life and Ministry

Have you ever failed at something? Something big?

I know that I have plenty of failures in my life and I suspect that pretty much everybody does.

And the hard thing about failure isn't always the failure itself, it's often the shame or the guilt that can come from knowing that you've let other people (or God) down. It's the hit to our pride when our perceptions of ourselves change because of it.

And if we're not careful, that shame or guilt becomes the gift that keeps on giving because we have an enemy who likes to remind us of all the times that we've failed.

I don't want to minimize the reality of failure

To be sure, there are some who would tell you that failure doesn't matter. That it's just a learning. And to an extent, they're right.

But that doesn't mean it doesn't matter. It just means that if we're able to get back up, learn something, and move on, the failure isn't a total loss.

In terms of learning to do something or pursuing a valuable but difficult goal, that is accurate. If we are rejected as we share God's love, we should certainly learn from it and continue on.

Much like an athlete building stamina or a musician learning an instrument, those “failures” are just a stopping point on the path to improvement and greatness.

But whether our failures are learning opportunities or experiences where we let God and others down, they share a common thing that Jordan Boom shared with us.

Failure highlights our dependence on God.

– Jordan Boom

And when we realize (or remember) that we are fully reliant on God, we are able to do two powerful things that no guru can share from ancient worldly wisdom.

  • Take our failures of any kind to God
  • Accept His complete forgiveness and the strength to go on

To put it bluntly, that's POWERFUL!

There is no mind game or exercise that we can do that will replace or improve on the reality of God's sacrifice on our behalf and the strength of the Holy Spirit to empower us to live a life worthy of God's calling. And we have a high and holy calling.

Whether we are called to apparent greatness or lowest servitude, our calling in Christ is always this – to show God's glory on the earth through everything we think, do, and say. To be transformed into the image of God. To be ambassadors of the Kingdom. To be reconcilers. To make peace. To love and be loved.

And He allows (and empowers) us to do all of that in spite of our history of failure. In spite of our sinful past. In spite of our weakness. Because it's His power in us that allows it to happen.

We need to be reminded of this

Maybe you needed this today. As it turns out, I did – because as I was sharing this with you, I was encouraged in my walk.

Sometimes it's easy to allow the lesser voices to speak more loudly in our lives. But God can still speak to the core of who we are in an instant through a still small voice.

Maybe He spoke to you today. Maybe He will speak to someone else through you today.

But we remember this much: His power is made perfect in our weakness (2 Corinthians 12, vs 9), He is faithful to complete the work that He began in us (Philippians 1, vs 6), and nothing can separate us from His love (Romans 8, vs 38-39).

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How to be Unstoppable in Ministry

How to be Unstoppable in Ministry

Does it seem like fairy tales and pixie dust to think that you can be truly unstoppable in ministry? That there’s never enough money or time to do what needs to be done?

If you’re like me, it certainly can.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve complained that I “just don’t have enough time to get it all done.” Or that I’d love to do [whatever it is that I want to do] but I just don’t have the money or expertise to do it.

Of course, the thing is – it’s partly true. At least with my limited perspective. And especially with my “do it all yourself” mindset (I’m still working through that one).

But I would submit to you that it is actually <strong>impossible</strong> to fail as long as we walk faithfully with God. And even in the face of apparent failure, Steve Bremner reminded us that we can be unstoppable.

Why it’s impossible to truly fail

As you read that, you might be thinking something like:

  • I’ve seen failure all over the place.
  • I’ve seen missionaries who failed to fulfill the vision for what God gave them to do.
  • I’ve seen churches divide and split.
  • I’ve seen moral failure.
  • I’ve seen nearly every kind of failure.

And I would say that all of those are possibly true. However, at least in my perspective, we always have to dig a little deeper and remember something.

And let’s assume for a moment that you are actually doing what God’s called you to do. If not, even if you succeed, it will not be success in the Kingdom.

What to remember

What that means is that we can’t measure our “success” by looking at whether we think we accomplished the goals we had. We can and should track the effect of our efforts. But we will almost never actually see the full vision fulfilled.

How to be unstoppable

So, you want to be unstoppable. I do, too. And here’s the key that Steve Bremner shared: keep obeying.

If you’re truly doing what God’s told you to do, you’re unstoppable as long as you obey.

— Steve Bremner

Be sure that you’re doing God’s will. And then keep following Him.

  • If God’s called you to give, give.
  • If God’s called you to love, love.
  • If God’s called you to go, go.
  • If God’s called you to parent, parent.
  • If God’s called you to pastor, pastor.
  • If God’s called you to an orphanage, do it well.

Because in the end, God is looking for love and faithful obedience. And in the face of faithful obedience out of love, all the ways we can and do get stopped short of our goals fade to insignificance as we follow His path to His success.

What about you?

Is there anything you're going to keep doing faithfully because success in the Kingdom doesn't look like success in the world? Anything you're going to change or stop doing?

Let's hear about it in the comments!

Our Fundraiser!

We're raising funds to help Global Initiative equip the Church to share God's love with Muslims. Visit our fundraiser page for more information about Global Initiative and how YOU can be involved.

Four Ways to Make Your Missionary Prayers More Meaningful

Four Ways to Make Your Missionary Prayers More Meaningful

Sometimes I hear that it can be lonely to be a cross-cultural minister serving in a city or country far from home. And, while needs like finances are certainly important, I also hear that prayer partnership is kind of a big deal and REALLY appreciated.

But what do you do if you want to make your prayers a more meaningful connection?

Maybe you’re already praying effective prayers but want to do more to be an encouragement. Maybe you know a missionary who’s just feeling tired and needs to know that somebody cares.

Well, it’s easy to pray a powerful and effective prayer for that missionary and shoot them a note to let them know that you care. But what if there was a way to take it to another level?

Would you like to do that?

Believe it or not, I’ve had a couple guests on the Engaging Missions Show who shared that some of their most meaningful connections happened when someone took the time to make their prayers a little more meaningful. And it’s not even that hard.

And today I’m going to share 5 tools that YOU can use.

But why tools?

Well, because what I hear from missionaries is that it’s the deep and personal connection of hearing or seeing someone pray that often makes those prayers more meaningful. That knowing exactly how someone is presenting their needs to the Father means a lot.

And there are some tools that you can use to take the prayers you’re praying and get them right to the missionary you’re praying for. They might even be tools that you already know how to use.

So let’s start with the most meaningful tools.

Get on a video call using Skype or Zoom

Take a minute to set up some time to chat on Skype or Zoom. If you and they are able to do that, you can connect across the miles in real time. You can (sometimes) see their faces and they can see yours. You can hear their voices. You can actually talk. And you can pray.

What if the time difference is too hard to bridge?

Let’s face it: sometimes we just can’t get our schedules to align. Or maybe you can’t set something up in advance.

Not to worry – there are other tools that will allow you to RECORD your prayer and send it to them.

Send a video message using Skype or YouTube

If you can’t ring them on Skype, do the next best thing and send a video message. Or you can record that same message and upload it to YouTube (just set the video to “unlisted” and send them the link).

If you have a smart phone, you already have all you need to make a video message and send it.

Send an audio message using Skype, SoundCloud, Vocaroo.

Not into video?

No problem. You can record your voice and send a file or link using Skype, SoundCloud, or Vocaroo. Depending on what service you use, you can record from either your computer or your mobile device and send a file or a link.

Don’t like the sound of your voice?

What about simply typing out (or dictating) your prayer and sending that to them?

Even an emailed prayer can be powerful in conveying your heart and showing the reality of your prayers so much more than a note that says “I'm praying for you.”

You can do that, right?

The point is, that there are ways that you can create a meaningful connection at the same time you’re praying for a missionary.

So why not give it a try?

Choose a missionary you love and choose one way to connect with them.

(go ahead, I’ll wait)

And then take that first step: set up some time to connect or just record and go.

You never know what an encouragement your prayer and message might be. It might just be what God wants to use to bring them through a tough time. Or it might be how He wants to encourage you and deepen your heart for His Kingdom.

Either way, it’s a win.

So what are you waiting for?

Take a minute. Get started. And let me know what you did.

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We're raising funds to help Global Initiative equip the Church to share God's love with Muslims. Visit our fundraiser page for more information about Global Initiative and how YOU can be involved.

Three Keys to Effective Prayers for Missionaries

Three Keys to Effective Prayers for Missionaries

One of the most incredible joys I’ve recently discovered is praying with and for missionaries and church planters. For years I thought about it but never really did it. But after I launched the Engaging Missions Show, I made it a practice to pray with each of my guests before the show and to pray for them as often as I remember.

I even started sending out regular emails asking for specific prayer requests.

While I can’t say that this is the most life-changing thing I’ve ever done, it’s certainly up there because I find that my heart becomes more aligned with God’s heart when I pray. And that I care more when I pray.

Maybe you’d like to see some of that in your life too

I suspect that we could all use a little more of God’s heart in our lives. But let’s face it, sometimes we don’t pray because it seems too hard or we’re afraid. I know that sometimes holds me back.

After all, what if I pray something that’s not God’s will? Or what if I’m not diligent enough? What if I just mess EVERYTHING up.

But I also know there are incredible benefits to praying. So if you’re interested in it, I have something to offer you. Absolutely free.

All it will cost is a couple minutes of your time right now. And maybe a little effort.

I have a simple reminder and completely un-patented three step process to totally energize your prayers for missionaries that will almost certainly work for you. It’s not magic. There are no promises. But it could make all the difference in the world.

Are you ready for it?

Here’s the reminder: It’s not about you!

That’s right! It’s not about you. It’s about God. He’s the focus. He’s in control. He’s guiding you. So we don’t need to keep our eyes on ourselves.

Got it?

OK. Now for the ultra-simple three step framework for successful missionary prayers.

1. Get to know your missionary
2. Get to know God’s heart for them
3. Pray God’s will into their situations

Sound too simple?

It’s not.

Because when you get to know your missionary (or missionaries), you start to see what struggles and opportunities they have. You start to see them as people. You start to care about them.

And as you begin to search for God’s heart in the Scriptures, He reveals Himself to you. He reveals His heart for people and situations and cultures and nations. And for you.

And when you know who you’re praying for and to whom you’re praying, it becomes much easier to pray His will for them. For their ministries. For their families.

And when you pray, you care more. You know God more.

And the cycle repeats.

Simple? Yes.

Powerful? Absolutely!

Worth it? Without a doubt?

How about you?

Do you have a different framework? Why not share it in the comments?

And if you’ve tried this for the first time, why not share your experiences?

I’m trusting God to make incredible changes in all of our lives.

Our Fundraiser!

We're raising funds to help Global Initiative equip the Church to share God's love with Muslims. Visit our fundraiser page for more information about Global Initiative and how YOU can be involved.

Looking for direction about what’s most important? Look here!

Looking for direction about what’s most important? Look here!

Last week I wrote about how we are often surrounded by opportunities and it can be hard to choose. “Should I go this way?” “Should I do this thing or that thing?” “What’s the best use of my resources?”

Of course, sometimes the opposite is true – we feel constrained by a lack of opportunity. But in either case, the solution might be the same thing.

But whether we feel overwhelmed by opportunity or constrained by lack, the answer is the same thing. And it might not be what we think.

It’s not just about figuring things out

If you’re like me, you probably spend an inordinate amount of time trying to figure things out. Playing scenarios. Looking at options. Trying to figure things out.

However, even though there’s value in that, it can go to far.

(I know…you were thinking, “Well I’m not crazy like he is.”)

Because the root of the issue isn’t really about how much we do or don’t have. It isn’t even really about figuring out what to do.

Sure, we need to be responsible, wise trustees of God’s Kingdom. We need to be capable ambassadors and loving citizens of His Kingdom.

But we don’t have to figure everything out.

This sometimes plagues me

I will get up early with a list of things to do. I’ll try to pick the most critical things to do first. Or maybe I’ll pick the one or two things I think I can actually get done. But inevitably, if I get things out of order, it just doesn’t work out.

I can spend an entire day working on things. Prioritizing things. Working on what I’m working on. And never get anything of value if I don’t do one thing first.

Something that Caleb Suko shared when he was a guest on the Engaging Missions Show.

The Lord leads. And if you trust Him, He’ll lead in your life.

— Caleb Suko

And it really plagues me if I don’t start my day by spending at least a few minutes with God. It’s in those times, if I’m really paying attention, that God will direct my steps.

And while He’s doing it, He might also give me a little rest in the middle of my busy-ness. He might refresh and renew me. He might give me a word or a thought that will carry me through the day.

Or maybe something for someone else.

But if I don’t take that time with God – if I don’t invest in that relationship, I don’t get the benefits of that relationship.

Not to mention getting some quality time with GOD!

That doesn’t mean that I turn my brain off. It doesn’t mean that I don’t work hard.

But I have to start with trusting God to guide me.

Maybe the way He guides me looks different than the way He guides you. That’s OK.

But if His word is a lamp for my feet and a light to my path, and if He’s promised to NEVER leave me, then I can trust Him to give me the wisdom, insight, self-control, and strength for whatever He’s put in front of me.

And if I follow Him, I’ll be on the path He’s prepared for me, which includes all the things He’s laid out for me.

And the same is true for you.

So are you looking for direction? Do you feel like you’re running around in circles? Or are you just tired from carrying a load?

Well take a load off.

Go to Jesus and let Him know what’s going on. And then ask Him what’s next.

He might surprise you. He might not.

But know that He WILL lead you.

The Lord leads. And if you trust Him, He’ll lead in your life.

Our Fundraiser!

We're raising funds to help Global Initiative equip the Church to share God's love with Muslims. Visit our fundraiser page for more information about Global Initiative and how YOU can be involved.

Are YOU Focusing on the Most Important Thing?

Are YOU Focusing on the Most Important Thing?

Our lives are so full of opportunities, it's easy to become overwhelmed. To try to do everything. And when we do that, it's easy to lose focus on the most important things.

Maybe you're wondering about that right now.

Are YOU focusing on the most important thing?

I know this is a common problem in the United States because there are people selling solutions to the problem all over the place. There are entire books dedicated to focusing on “The One Thing” or “Essentialism.”

I think our culture drives this. We take the “shotgun” approach to life.

We're so worried about missing out or falling short of our callings, gifts, or abilities, that we are constantly trying to do more, to be more involved, to give more, and more.

And in some ways, that's a good thing. But too much of a good thing can put us out of balance. Especially when we become unfocused or distracted.

We're driving along at a zillion miles per hour with three maps in front of us and only one eye on the road. We're getting somewhere fast. It might be the right place. But it just as likely might not. And all the while, we could be leaving a trail of dead bodies or missed opportunities behind us.

It can apply to ANY area of our lives

This can apply to our finances. It can apply to how we spend our time. It can apply to how we approach our work or our ministries. It can apply to our families. It might even apply to our quiet times with God.

I know that sometimes I struggle with this kind of thing with the Engaging Missions Show. I am constantly trying to grow and provide the best guests for you and also the best possible audience for my guests.
They have amazing stories that we need to hear. And they need to be heard and loved.

But it's so easy to get distracted. In my efforts, I can try out new segments. I can look for ways to improve audio quality or my skills as an interviewer. I can look for help in marketing and social media.

And none of those are bad things unless I lose focus on the two most important things.

  • Connection
  • Quality

Or the thing that's REALLY most important, as Erin Paul reminded us.

The most important thing is just bringing glory to God.

— Erin Paul

It's easy to get distracted

It's so easy to get distracted by lesser goals. By less important things.

As a host and podcast producer, I can chase unicorns and rainbows. I can look for pots of gold and four-leafed clovers.

Or I can focus on what matters: Glorifying God by producing a quality show that showcases His stories in the lives of our guests, deepens our connections with them, and inspires, equips, and challenges us to live our calling wherever we are.

That doesn't mean I can't try things out.

I experiment all the time.

But I have to remain grounded in the things that matter most. I have to use those priorities to make my decisions – even if going a different direction might be easier, faster, more fun, or appear to have better results.
That doesn't mean we can't try things out. But we always have to remain grounded to the things that are most important.

And it's the same for all of us.

If there's an area that you're wondering about – your calendar, your bank statement, your passions – take a look at it.

Are you focusing on what's most important?

What about your life overall? Is your focus on bringing glory to God?

And if you don't like the answers, take a minute to ask God what you should do about it.

And then do it.

the most important thing is just bringing glory to god

Our Fundraiser!

We're raising funds to help Global Initiative equip the Church to share God's love with Muslims. Visit our fundraiser page for more information about Global Initiative and how YOU can be involved.
Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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