Balancing Life and Work

Reading a scanned article that was sent by email, I was struck, not just by the funny comic, but also by these words. I have repurposed them for me, but it feels right:

I am willing to make tough calls in ministry. I am willing to be poorly thought of by some people. I am willing to give up my house and my relationships (except my husband as that wouldn’t be biblical nor loving, and why would I leave him behind? He’s my other half) to go across the world to bring this message. I will pay the price of leadership.

I so get the part where the article talks about ministry depression. I actually experience that here and there once in a while and in the past when I worked full time and served.

Rich Nathan said in this article, “I’ve come to accept that, following a conference or weekend of ministry, I will be subject to spiritual attack and feelings of depression. I try to give myself more time to be away from people.”

In 2015, I took a deep breath and said, “I can’t burn the candles at both ends or I won’t last. I. Must. Have. Balance.”

I like the reference of Elijah in 1 Kings 19:3-5. He had enough. I can imagine himself throwing his hands in the air. All he needed was a nap and something to eat to feel better. The Angel provided it.

However, my idea of rest is very different. I love isolation in the woods. I love doing photography and having the joy of sharing my good ones and bad ones with you. I love reading. I love spending alone time with my husband. I like watching brain-numbing tv shows or movies just to not think. I like writing. I like running. I like walking.

And sometimes, I even like people.

Roots Writers Update

When Roots began, it was to make disciples, not readers. We wanted writers to return to the roots of why they write. As a writer, we are story tellers and story tellers have a long history of doing good work to share the Gospel. With social media, writers have an opportunity to engage with people all over the world.

Week before last, our group met for the first time in the face-to-face at Third Shot Coffee since Covid-19 shut down in Arizona. Our leader, Sherry, was unable to meet and joined via Zoom. She is the one on my phone sitting on my backpack.

Right now, we are working on updating the Roots’ social media platform. Renee has been assigned to do our newsletter. Primarily, it’s been me trying to set up and run the social for this ministry, but my work with WorldVenture and that of the day job has left me with little time to do this.

We hope to assign someone to run the social media and keep it updated regularly. We also hope to develop a new service award for those writers who use social media well to “make disciples, not readers”.

Not a Happy Ending For The Donkey

Like with election time, a pandemic, as it turns out, creates even more division and negativity. A post in a local Facebook Group reminds me of Aesop’s Fable, The Man, The Boy, and The Donkey.

If you don’t recall how the fable went, click here to read or hear it. In short, a man and his boy made their way to town on a donkey. At every turn, someone had an opinion on their mode of transportation. The boy shouldn’t be riding the donkey, the man shouldn’t be riding the donkey, nobody should ride the donkey, and towards the end, both the boy and the man carried the donkey tied to poles until the donkey panicked, got loose, fell over a bridge and drowned.

Not a happy ending for the donkey.

The moral of the story was: Please all and you will please none.

In looking through the Bible, I can’t seem to find verses that support social shaming, but these days I resonate with this story because so much of social media is filled with people policing other people, social shaming, and judging. In the wake of this, is hopelessness, fear, anxiety, and anger. If anything comes from this pandemic, let it be a new normal in line with the Bible. Let Philippians 4:4-9 guide and permeate our hearts through this pandemic:

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.

People need hope. They need encouragement. As a practicing Christian, I don’t think the donkey should drown because of my decisions being heavily influenced by society. It’s been a tough week watching people grieve, get angry, point fingers, and yet, change is usually messy and painful.

John 15:1-2 says,

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.

When we come out the other end, I hope this new normal is a new church still interested in using whatever tools are necessary to reach the lost, the hopeless, the unchurched, and the unreached with the Gospel, including social media and Virtual Reality. I hope the Lord uses this time to create a new heart in each of us.

We Are What We Post

Someone somewhere said, “You are what you eat.” If we only eat Krispy Kremes, eventually our body would stop functioning. To stay alive, to have the energy to be the best version of ourselves, we need more than a Snickers bar, but vegetables and lean proteins. The same goes for social media.

Matthew 15:18 says, “But the things that come out of a person’s mouth come from the heart, and these defile them.” Whatever comes out of our heart lands on social media. What is on social media is what we’ll see every day. Whoever we friend on Facebook, is what influences us. What we post, influences us because social media can make us focus on good or bad things. It can drain us, isolate us, or it can build us up. It is a tool and how we use that tool is up to us. Social media isn’t the problem in society. It is us.

We need to surround ourselves with people online who are allowed to speak the truth in our lives–people whose online lives are an example to follow. Their posts become the compass that points to the Bible. They are people willing to meet us for coffee or introduce us to people willing to meet us for coffee. And likewise, our posts need to reflect the visual story of our lives in truth. Good posts are the vegetables our mother told us to eat because it’s healthy, not because they tasted good.

Eat more vegetables and less Krispy Kremes.

3 Ways to Engage Online

Francis Chan is right. Sharing a meme on social media is not digital discipleship. Having a conversation online though is digital discipleship.

First, make time to engage with people. Start with, “How are you?” or ask them about the things they have posted online. Statuses and posts are conversation starters, even the ones about food.

Second, be discerning. I’ve encountered many posts where my fingers were ready to tap out a reply, but instead, I prayed and remained silent. Debates are unnecessary and mostly useless. All they do is create a divide. Invest in the relationships of the people you friend or follow. Get to know them as a friend, not a ministry leader, a pastor, or a missionary. People want authenticity. They want to see Christ in your life first.

Third, don’t be satisfied in simply sharing a meme or someone else’s post. Share your heart about why that post was worth sharing. While keeping your emotions private may be a generational thing, it doesn’t have to remain that way. Encourage questions. Be compassionate. Put the relationship and your concern for their eternal destination above a desire to be right. Reply to them promptly in private or public.

Discipleship is a long process. My goal is to help churches build digital teams that eventually become the whole church body using social media to share the Gospel in relationship to their communities and beyond.

*If you feel led to support this work, please click here to give*

Dear Friend: A Blessing in Email @LeadLikeJesus

Most people hate it when you take their email and sign them up for things they may not want. Email is very much in, but it is also what takes up most of our time. I can spend a couple of hours on email, but with my limited time, I simply take care of the important emails. This is why my email is out of control and has been since I started last year with a new day job. But I will never forget the saint who signed me up for Lead Like Jesus email devotionals. You were a blessing.

To you, whoever you are, THANK YOU.

Dear friend, you did me a favor. My heart ached. I felt empty. Numb. I started reading them every morning and used that in the quiet mornings before work became busy to pray and focus on what God wanted me to focus on.  What God taught me through those emails over the years will never leave my heart, nor the memory of finding the very first one in my inbox.

Perhaps someone blessed you with an email subscription or sent you something encouraging. In the comments, tell me about it. 

How to Act on a Calling

1 missionary for every 216,300 people – The Traveling Team 

How can a pastor of a 300 to 5,000 member church give quality time to each congregant member? How can a missionary possibly give quality time to 216,300 people? How can a famous online Christian with thousands or millions of followers develop individual relationships with strangers? In a recent conversation, someone wanted to give a lead on a new believer to a missionary. Instead, I encourage every church member to tap into the resources available, the guidance of mentors at your church, and available missionaries or pastors to ask for help in answering the call to an unbelievers questions about Jesus. That’s what I do…one of my jobs as a worker with WorldVenture is to empower the believer to answer God’s calling in their own lives through social media.

Here are more stats from The Traveling Team.

MISSIONARIES PER RELIGION:
  • Tribals – 714,108,000 population with 11,900 Missionaries: 1 for every 60,000
  • Hindus – 984,532,000 population with 5,500 Missionaries: 1 for every 179,000
  • Unreligious – 831,267,000 population with 11,700 Missionaries:  1 for every 71,000
  • Muslims – 1,703,146,000 population with 4,200 Missionaries: 1 for every 405,500
  • Buddhists – 520,002,000 population with 2,000 Missionaries: 1 for every 260,000

With Social Media and technology, the church congregation can partner with their church’s mission and vision to reach their community, and the church can partner with their missionary organization to work directly with available missionaries in building local churches and local fellowship of faiths greatly reducing the above stats; thereby answering a calling.

Imagine if a believer in our own country took the time and trouble to build relationships on and offline with a non-believer who may not agree with them politically, culturally, and who may have come from another country. Imagine if that non-believer became a believer and was taught to share the Gospel with friends and family members via Social Media who live in their home country in their heart language?

But first, the congregation needs individual training on how to answer God’s call on and offline. It’s harder than it sounds. It’s much easier to give in to insecurity and pass on the opportunity to our pastors and missionaries. Developing those online and offline relationships can be acutely frustrating, challenging, but worth it. Learning about the culture, understanding the language (even while using Google Translate), and learning to care about the person you are speaking to in person and online is an important part of a church congregation partnering with their church in online outreach teams.

Just imagine…

To learn more about me, go to worldventure.com/nhahn. Support me in empowering a worldwide media movement.

Loving Others as Jesus Did?

Because I can’t even begin to identify with the Mind that made matter, with the Voice that spoke galaxies into existence, or with the Power that holds all things together…but I can identify with the compassion Jesus showed lepers, and I can identify with the frustration he felt with the religious leaders, and I can identify with the sorrow he experienced when people rejected him.  It’s this sort of stuff—raw, down-to-earth, “human stuff” (that is, compassion, frustration, rejection, etc.)—in which Jesus works out his humanity, and invites us to follow him. And when we realize that Jesus really does understand what it means to be human (warts and all!), it increases our faith that he will help us know what to do with the bewildering, painful, joyful experiences of our own humanity.  – Trent Sheppard 

“I want to know Jesus better,” she cried in her newsletter. This newsletter soundbite is a couple of years old, but no less important. This Christian missionary’s cry did not come from disbelief, but a growing desire to draw closer to the Lord. Additionally, I cry,

“Lord, help me see people as you see them and love them as you love them.” 

Asking to love others as He loves them is a dangerous prayer. Look what happened when He showed His love to us? God sent His Son to the cross. Jesus stepped willingly to a Roman torture device and suffered for three days (if you don’t count the prior beatings He withstood before being nailed to the cross).  How far are we willing to go for our friends, especially when our friends make choices in their lives where the consequences are deserved?

We can’t even keep our promises. 

And are we willing to give and serve even if there is no benefit to us?

Loving others is so much more than just giving a food box or money to a cause. It’s much more than words, but investing in the lives of those God has placed around you. This is why I am passionate about social media. Social Media gives us the opportunity to invest in others in more than hitting like or re-tweeting a tweet on your feed. It’s sending a private message, responding with words to their post, and serving them online. I want to see a revolution online from Christians across many generations learning to see social media as a means to serve each other and extend the message of the Cross globally and truthfully. Because as a church, I feel like we’re failing to send that message online. Let’s do more reaching than preaching. 

Drinking Deeply in The Fire

They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.”    Jeremiah 17:8 NIV

A Netflix documentary described my week: Watching fire roar through the forest. How do you show God’s love when circumstances make you the bad guy? As I ended the day sipping a cup of peppermint tea, Jeremiah 17:8 ran through my mind. Only I couldn’t recall the exact Scripture: “…leaves always green…roots go out to the river,” like a compact disc stuck on one chorus kept repeating itself as I lived through the “fire.”

This gave me much comfort, especially on Monday when I started visiting churches and dropping off DVD’s and prayer cards. My stomach felt like a tight rope being twisted. Starting my life as a writer before becoming a worker with WorldVenture has prepared me for rejection and doubt. I’ve developed a thick skin, learned how to smile through disappointment, and still, after each packet was dropped off, Jeremiah 17:8 kept running unceasingly through my mind.

I rely on God’s divine protection and His guidance through all circumstances.

The stress of the week and the question of showing God’s love when circumstances make you the bad guy did not erase the joy in my heart or take the smile from my face. I fear people look at God in our culture’s sense–someone like our best friend who accepts our sins rather than hates our sins. God knows our sins tear apart our lives and relationships. It causes generations of damage. This is why God hates sin. He hated it so much that He sent His Son to die on the cross; the lamb sacrifice to end all sacrifice–To give humanity a chance.

So, while my leaves were always green because my roots were drinking from living water, I am learning different perspectives. I am learning how to distance myself so people don’t connect the circumstances with God’s character, to let others do the work God has them doing and not interfere, and I am also learning how to continue working towards 100% support, face prejudices, doubt, and conquer my own self-sufficiency. While on the way to 100% support, I am in training. I am learning how to make and face hard decisions, confronting my fear of confrontation, and learning how to walk through the “fire” unscathed.