The following is a part of our weekly devotional series, which is a companion to the 2013 Foursquare Life Journal. This week’s Bible reading comes from Genesis 34 – 50, Luke 14 – 20 and Psalms 5, 7, 8 and 10.
I often spend time mulling over how to make ministry better. Meetings about effectiveness, vision, safety and policy are all very much a part of my world, and all for very good reasons. These meetings and policies are meant to protect the very thing I am passionate about: ministering to young people.
Then there are the times when God, in all His infinite wisdom and sense of humor, throws a monkey wrench into the well-run machine I have spent so many years perfecting. And wouldn’t you know it, every time this happens, that wrench has come in the form of an actual person.
I think this also is the case in Luke 14. The Pharisees, with all their influence, regulations and policy-making, were truly only doing so to protect what they thought was important: the rule and law of God. However, the walls they had built to protect God’s law became the very same walls that prevented them for caring for Gods people. Jesus asked them the question in verse 5: “If one of you has a child or an ox that falls into a well on the Sabbath day, will you not immediately pull it out?” (NIV).
The phrase “will you not” must have pierced the very soul of some who were there. Verse 6 tells us they said nothing.
I can recall a time when, after many meetings, some great policy was put in place to enable our ministry to address the needs of the poor. There was an incredible system implemented that would address the need and institute accountability. It was well thought out, effective and efficient.
And then a barefoot man showed up in my office looking for a pair of shoes. There was the flash of realization that all the meetings and policies we walked through were meant for this moment. This man was about to encounter a near-perfect system put in place by very intelligent, caring people. All meant for this time. All meant for him.
However, I can remember the prompting of the Holy Spirit in that very moment: “Will you not buy him shoes?”
Very quickly, a dialogue with the Lord ensued in my mind: “But wait, we have a policy. There is a process. Would not following the process be a good example to my interns? Do I even have any cash?”
Because I serve in an incredibly grace-based church, however, that truly cares about such things, and because the words from the Lord were so piercing and true, the answer was obvious. The man would not walk though our wonderful process that day, but he would walk away with some shoes.
Serving so closely with young people for so many years, I have come to know that these are the moments they embrace the most—the times where the protection of process gives way to the care for people. This is a valuable lesson we can’t afford to ignore. We do need to teach young people to strategize, implement, develop and lead. But, more important, we need to teach them to care.
On that day, which involved a wonderful intern, a gathering of funds and a drive to the store, we were able to see a man blessed. As a result, everyone present was able to truly experience a “will you not?” moment. I pray that there are many, many more.
I hope you’ll join me in praying for the same.
By: Ryan Brown, pastor of NextGen ministries, New Life (Canby Foursquare Church) in Canby, Ore.
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