One of our young Pastors at Lake Avenue Church, Walter Alexander, challenged us this morning with this admonition: “Bring your light to shine in the darkness. It is all around us.” I was prompted to reflect on my last few weeks … Colorado, Thailand, Laos, and Pasadena. As we work with so many mission-sending organizations at Envoy, it is easy to constantly be reminded of the worldwide issues of darkness we see. Syria, issues in Egypt, much of Africa, and most of the countries that compose Southeast Asia. Certainly there are glimmers of light in many places, but the darkness is still overwhelming.
Closer to home, the deaths of the two NFL players, suicide and DUI death, a notice of 4 killed at Cal State, San Bernardino, and now Sandy Hook. Closer yet to us, our son Brent, who has Rubenstein’s syndrome, was violently attacked and punched in the face. He was blindsided by a very disturbed man at the bus stop in La Verne, California. Darkness is all around us and sometimes it seems as if it is winning. Fortunately we know the ending of the story, as in “The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe.”
Thinking about a topic relevant to everyone, retirement, I see darkness there too. The deceiver would have us not only act, but think darkly and with dire consequence. When we understand the force—and the impact for a lifetime—of a Future Funded Ministry, a number of dark dialogues come to mind. Here are how a few of them start:
- I’m young and have lots of time.
- I don’t understand all that money stuff.
- My “husband/wife/employer” is taking care of that.
- I’ll never retire and God is going to take care of me.
Each one of those (and others—you fill in the blank), has inherent in it the subtle whisperings of the deceiver. Those whisperings are designed to keep us in the dark and inhibit our ability to let our light shine in the darkness for a lifetime. Some of the most effective witnesses for Him have been silenced, marginalized, or significantly limited by listening to—and not “acting on”—the solutions, but staying in the darkness.
While I am writing this, I am listening to a wonderful musical encouragement, “God So Loved The World, That He Gave His Only Begotten Son.” He is the light, and we are to reflect that light in all of our life. Our preparation, our planning, our execution and our follow through are all part of that mandate.
For every Ministry Leader who reads this, let’s commit together to shine our lights for our staff’s to follow. As we lead in the New Year, let’s at least make sure the retirement plan portion of our encouragement is solidly in place: Our Retirement Plan Oversight Committees are in place and functioning; All of our participants are enrolled in their retirement plan; and each of us takes intentional steps to model, talk about, and encourage planning for the future. These actions impact and have value for ministry, and for today’s action plans.
I’m just about finished writing a short book about Future Funded Ministry. Look for more information within a month or so. It is designed to present a message in direct conflict with the deceiver. It is written as a beacon of light for all. Let’s shine our message on all the dark places together. Thank you for what you already do, and let’s resolve to shine even more light in the future.
Let me know your thoughts and comments. Our dialogue continues.
Living with Trusted Advice together