It was in a conversation with a friend* the other week that I first heard the words “mission” and “sexy” come together in one sentence. I guess she was
referring to this usage of the word “sexy” given by the Free Dictionary:
3. interesting, exciting, or trendy a sexy project a sexy new car
After my eyebrows came back down and my friend continued in the conversation I began to understand what she was talking about. She was voicing concerns about how easy it is for mission, for our calling, or for our ministry to revolve around meeting our own desire for what’s “interesting, exciting or trendy”.
She went on to talk about how easy it is for ministry to become about self-promotion, building our own platforms, or for personal affirmation. In each of those scenarios it becomes more about what we get than what we give.
It reminded me of a time in our family life about five years ago. We’d been working and living in the inner-city for a few years. We’d felt called there by God and were sure it was the right thing for that time. It was gritty, edgy, and maybe from an outsider’s perspective it was “sexy”. There were lots of times of excitement and breakthrough but the real-life reality was that it was often hard-work and mundane. But it carried the illusion of “sexy”.
Around that time we’d felt God calling us back to another area in Sheffield. This area wasn’t the most affluent area but neither was it the most deprived. I knew it was the right thing to move. I knew it was what God was calling us onto for the next season. But there was a whole load of tension going on for me. Would we get bored? Were we were selling out and going for the easy option? Was it exciting or edgy enough?
Essentially, was our move away from the inner-city sexy enough?
I think God wants us to have adventure, fun, excitement and fulfilment whilst we’re carrying out whatever He calls us to do, or wherever He calls us to be. After all, He’s a God of adventure, fun, excitement and fulfilment. But sometimes, without us even realising, those things can become the driver, the motivator or the incentive for the things we do.
The most exciting, adventurous, and also the most fruitful and peaceful place we can be is right where God’s asked us to be. That may mean we’re in Outer Mongolia, a stay-at-home mum, in a 9-5 job, a student, in the inner-city, in the suburbs, in Grimsby, wherever. The location, or the role, or the ministry doesn’t really matter. It’s the place where He’s asked us to give up our rights, ourself, our platform, and surrender to Him. And in surrendering to Him, and aligning ourselves with the Father it also becomes our place of peace, fulfilment and joy. Even when it doesn’t look ,or feel, like it.
For years I wanted God to give us the green light to move to India. I have a heart for all-things-India. I love Indian people, Indian food, Indian clothes, Indian chaos, Indian everything. But we’ve never felt peace to go there. One day I think we may end up there but I suspect that one of the reasons why we haven’t yet is because for me India is the “sexy mission”. It’s the place of adventure, of escape, of “me” rather than “Him”.
When I’ve chosen to surrender India (sometimes with gritted teeth) and I’ve engaged with the places and the people He’s called me to right now, I’ve seen Him powerfully work in and through me. I’ve seen that joining in with His mission is much more powerful, much more exciting, and infinitely more fruitful than my own self-promoting mini-mission.
So how about you?
What’s the driving force for what you do? Is it because it’s interesting, exciting, or trendy…. or something else?
*permission given by my friend to share this 🙂