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:
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.’
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.’
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?