Justin Hiebert

Catalyzing Change

3 ways to live intentionally on mission

Posted on 07 Jul 2014 in Ministry, missional theology | 9 comments

There is a rhythm to life in Kansas. Fall is planting, winter is preparing and fixing, spring is praying for rain, summer is harvesting. Year after year this cycle repeats for hundreds of farmers whose livelihood is tied to a good wheat harvest.

It’s a life of intentionality.

If the farmer waited until winter to plant, it would be too late. The ground would be too hard.

If the farmer waited until summer to fix any broken machinery, it would be too late, the harvest would be missed. 

By preparing themselves for the season ahead, they can put themselves in the best possible position to have a successful harvest. Good farmers learn to watch the weather, check humidity levels in the crop, and test their machinery so that they can be ready to go at a moments notice.

Good farming requires intentionality.

So too does good missional living.


Luke 9:51 tells us that, “As the time approached for him to be taken up to heaven, Jesus resolutely set out for Jerusalem.”


People are friends, not projects.


Here’s one thing that stands out to me in that verse: It was intentional. It wasn’t by chance, dumb luck, or a random coincidence that Jesus made it to Jerusalem in time for the Passover meal and the final showdown with death. It was a clear vision and purpose for Jesus, a part of his core identity, something that he just had to accomplish.

Jesus was always intentional, never impulsive. He remained clear and focused on what his goal was and stayed on that path.


We too have been called and created for something great. Within each of us is the capacity to bring life to those around us: sharing in community, advancing the Kingdom of God, and living a life of faith. 

Here are three ways to practice intentionality in your mission:

  1. Fish are friends, not food.
  2. Know the season.
  3. Know where your mission is taking you.


Fish are friends, not food.

This line of the movie Finding Nemo is a great principle for us to remember when it comes to people. As we work in our churches and neighborhoods to advance the Gospel, we would do well to recite, “People are friends, not projects.” By authentically engaging people and caring about who they are as people made in the image of God, we build up relational trust and give room for the Spirit to work. Then, when they are faced with times of crisis, they come to us as friends genuinely cared for, not hesitantly as a project to be ‘fixed.’

Know the season.

Like farming, there are times in our relationships where we need to know what season it is. There are times for cultivating (clearing away our own busyness and craziness of life to prepare to receive someone new), times for planting (growing and nurturing friendships), and times for reaping (intentionally knowing when it’s time to share the Gospel). It’s a delicate balance to be sure, but far too often we ignore these three things all together and hope that people just come to faith because we are somehow ‘really nice to them.’   Girl-Dock-Bible

Know where your mission is taking you.

Jesus resolutely set out for Jerusalem. Like the Fidelity Investment commercials that teach us to just stay on the green line until retirement, Jesus stayed on his mission until it was completed. If we want to learn what a life on mission is like, we first need to be clear what that mission is. It’s helpful to ask questions like, “How have I sensed God shaping me for something great? What does the community around me need that I’m good at? What does God want from me at this time?” By being able to see and know our mission, it becomes easier to stay on the right track, by saying ‘yes’ to the projects that advance that mission, and ‘no’ to the ideas that are good, but not ours to own.


I recently returned on a trip from Kansas and saw the remnants of wheat harvest. One person said, “We will check again in the morning if we can cut. If so, we’ll be out there early.” An unusually wet summer has kept some farmers from being able to get into the fields during the normal time of mid-June. But they continuously checked and anticipated that today just ‘might be the day’ that they could get into their fields and reap a harvest that was ripe.

My prayer is that we have the same sort of eager expectation in our Kingdom relationships, observing our community and waiting for a chance to bless it with the Good News of Jesus. The good news for us is that intentionality can be learned and practiced, may we start before it’s too late.


Enter the Discussion: How do you practice missional intentionality? How are you engaging those around you?

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Justin Hiebert

Leadership Catalyst - Entrepreneur - Coach at JSHiebert Leadership Coaching
I am a Business and Life Coach in both non-profit and for profit settings. I coach leaders, executives, and pastors in areas of vision, clarity, and values. In relationship coaching I focus on healthy and sustainable relationships, and in leadership development roles I catalyze change for individuals and groups to thrive. I also consult churches and organizations on how to train new leaders and create a healthy culture. In addition to that, I am an Anabaptist pastor in the Denver metro area. I specialize on topics that include: missional theology, discipleship, culture and the church in today’s society. I am married to my wonderful wife Elise and we have three kids. I grew up and now work in the United States Mennonite Brethren Church (USMB) and love the people and history of the Mennonite Brethren faith. I am a graduate of Tabor College with a dual degree in Youth Ministry and Christian Leadership, a graduate of Fresno Pacific Biblical Seminary with a Masters of Divinity, and a Doctoral Student and Bethel Seminary. I also teach college classes in areas of Bible, Communication, and Business.

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  • Crescibene’s Lilac Farm

    Oh I do want to hear others thoughts, but not necessarily be the one to begin! People are friends not projects is impacting me so much here. I have been the project before. So how do we be intentional , yet real? You mention learned and practiced, yet the more Christ like we become , aren’t these characteristics going to become more natural and out of true love for people?

    • Thanks so much for stopping by and adding to the conversation. It’s a delicate balance to be authentically real with people (“Jesus matters to me deeply”) and not pushy about it (“So that’s all I’m ever going to talk about.”) One important thing I practice that helps is to keep in mind the totality of every person. Yes, maybe they need Jesus, but right now they are hurting, or their job sucks, or their marriage is struggling, and if we can’t honestly sit with people during those times, I really don’t think we have much to offer them. By helping them lean into their emotions (pain, joy, fear, whatever it may be) I really believe that Jesus will show up and we will have a natural opportunity to share faith with them, and not have it be forced. It’s also important I think to celebrate any small step of faith. They more than likely won’t come to faith overnight, but you will begin to see small changes in their attitude or behavior. Celebrating those treats them as real people on a journey, not as a task to be completed.

      Anyway, a much longer thought than I originally wanted to share, but I hope it helps. Does this provide some clarity? My guess is that you’re good at doing these things with others and I’d love to hear how you’ve helped people on that journey.

      • Crescibene’s Lilac Farm

        wow! Thanks for all of your thoughts!! I personally have been through so much in this broken world. I struggle every day reminding my self that God has a plan with and for it all. A genuine , “yup, been there and understand my friend” , and ” this is how Jesus came along side me, Lifting the load as I surrendered. But It frustrates me how many people just care about their own little world. They do their duty. OR am I just looking on with a critical spirit. WE all have and are given gifts. They won’t all be the same. I’m definitely a come along side of you and walk and show you Jesus in action in my own life and hopefully “yours” if you allow it. Enjoying your older posts very much!!! May the God of peace be with you!

        • Thanks for sharing and stopping by. I’m thrilled you have found it so helpful. Grace and Peace.

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