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Wednesday, June 20, 2012

A position of Influence

It is a different culture here in the desert. People tend to isolate and hide to get out of the heat. The culture of Arizona has adjusted to the weather. Movie theatres off free movies to children as an alternative to being outside in the heat. The shopping malls are packed with families during the day as a way of giving people some place to go. And parks are usually empty. In Minnesota, we were outside all summer. We did outdoor outreaches in the summer, because in the winter people hibernated. As I have wandered around Tucson praying for God to show me how to do ministry here I have come to this realization: Outreach looks completely different. My prayers have been for God to put me in a position of influence, so that people are drawn to me, rather than me going to them.

That has happened in a few ways. First of all, through being able to minister regularly at the Gospel Rescue Mission, God has literally sent guys to me who have let me direct them, teach them, and help them any way I see fit. I haven't had to convince them or prove anything to them, they came to me and I have been helping them build a community of support for them. Second, I had the chance to paint some one's house. This enabled me to provide income for two other guys for a couple of weeks. The Lord showed me that as I meet their physical needs, I instantly gain a platform to speak into their lives. In two weeks of ministering to the one guy I saw him go from being angry at God, to embracing him, joining a church, and being baptized. The third way it has happened is through coaching baseball. I volunteered to coach one of my son's teams, but by the end of the season was coaching two of them. I was able to directly teach these young men about being good citizens, having a vision and purpose for their life and pushing yourself to become better than you believe you are. I was also able to be bold with the parents about parenting with purpose and looking at the big picture of your child's life. I taught the dads how to affirm their children and we all watched together as these moments produced greater results. I also had a chance to do some counseling with one of the coaches and am watching him surrender more and more areas of his life to Christ.

My first temptation when I got to Tucson was to run out and began to promote my ministry and myself. When I found that those actions made people uncomfortable, I was forced to wait for God to promote me. Slowly, He has elevated me to a place of influence. It may only be over a few people, but I have to be faithful with the few if I expect to be given more.

The question for you is, who has God given you influence over? Are you waiting for God to elevate you to a place of influence? When that happens, what will you do with that? I pray for God to give you the boldness to speak words of truth, hope, and direction into all those who let you speak into their lives.

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