Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Quick to Listen - Sharon and Matt

At the STINT Briefing @ Copper Mountain in 2006, Matt and Sharon Mormance were on the chair lift going up the mountain with their teammate Kellie. They were telling jokes and just getting to know each other. After they had stared at the grass and flowers in front of them for quite a while, they turned around and took in the breathtaking view. It was then that Matt made this very insightful remark, "I think that our time in Kaunas is going to be like this - a lot of uphill work to prepare the way for future ministry. And we might or might not get to see the beautiful view later, but God has invited us into the groundbreaking part of ministry." It is over a year later now, and as Sharon tells it, "Matt was absolutely right!"

The Mormance's are on their 2nd year of STINT in Kaunas, Lithuania but the first as Team Leaders. (The Team Leaders from last year, Peter and Jen Hibbs, actually leave Lithuania tomorrow.) Matt and Sharon are leading a team of seven and much of their work has been "tilling some very hard soil". Sharon explains, "We have worked to get permission to go into the dorms to do surveys, we have worked to find ways to partner with the Catholic ministry on campus (giving us credibility and showing that we are not a cult - which is pretty important when you name is close to ‘Mormon’), and we have worked to discover what works best to reach the university students in Kaunas. It has been an adventure to say the least!"

"One of the most important ministry insights we have learned came from a friend we met at CM 2007 last summer", Sharon wrote. "Cam, who works for Campus Crusade in Australia, told us, 'It is not about how many people pray the prayer, or come to Bible studies, or come to events. It IS about how often we listen to the Spirit and follow His promptings to take initiative to offer others the opportunity to hear the gospel.' We have really taken this mindset to heart. Our most question each week is - 'Did we do all that God has put in front of us to do this week?' Then we leave the results up to Him. So to date, no students have come to know Christ as Savior, but God is at work here in Kaunas, both in the lives of students and in our own lives. And for this we give Him praise!"

James - the dude in the bible who most lived out Proverbs 27:6 - tells us that we all are to be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to become angry. This is a punch in the gut to me because I am afraid that I am quick to speak and slow to listen. And the Lord keeps trying to get my attention too because I have heard this verse referred to by speakers / pastors / friends several times in the last few weeks.

Quick to Listen - Like Matt and Sharon, are we listening to the prompting of the Spirit? Are we doers of His word to by doing all He puts in front of us? Are we quick to listen to the team God has sovereignly surrounded us with? Are we quick to listen to our disciples? to the lost? Jay Lorenzen - one of the wisest people I know - has a post on his blog asking whether we as an organization are willing to listen. He quotes, Andy Stanley, "Omniscience is not a requirement for leadership; a willingness to listen is." We as leaders need to learn to listen to the Lord knowing that he may be putting others in our path to be the instruments of what He wants us to hear.

Slow to Speak - Followers of Jesus and Leaders should be people who weigh their words. My pastor has been teaching on a sermon series this fall called UpWords - a weekly punch in the gut for me. One thing Gene pointed out the 1st week is that our words either give life or death. There is no middle ground. As Leaders we have a greater platform for this. Is our tongue bridled? (Jas 1:26) Do we fear the forest fire of destruction our words could cause? (Jas 3:5, 6) Do we guard our mouths? (Prov 21:23) Do we let only words that build up spew forth? (Eph 4:29) Is He Lord over my mouth?

Slow to Get Angry - What fires me up? Is it a holy anger or just a frustration that things are beyond my control? Do my reactions reflect a heart that is trusting the Lord? Have I died to myself? In Korea this summer, I was talking with Amy Rivera, a STINTer, whose dad is on staff. Amy said that she has never seen her dad get angry. Never? What kind of heart is a heart that never gets angry or at least is slow to get angry? Is my heart that rested, that content? Am I slow to get angry? I need a little of the spirit of Ben Rivera --- or the a lot of the Holy Spirit.

Gene showed this video clip Sunday. I don't know if I can get the embedded video below to work but you can go to The Work of the People to view it too. It contrasts often how we respond versus how Jesus responded. If - as James wrote - everyone should be these three things, how much more those who have be called to lead?

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