One of my students recently stated that we don’t face the sort of persecution that confronted the early church. He was right – in this country most of us don’t worry each day about whether we will lose our jobs or our lives for our faith. However, we do face a different and in some ways more challenging form of persecution here. We are continually blasted with non-Christian worldviews. We are tempted to be distracted from our “primary calling” – to know God/abide in Christ/walk in the Spirit. Our enemy is subtle yet aggressive. As a result, we can easily let down our guard. We can begin to lose our protective boundaries, our “margin” in our most critical areas of life (family, vocation, church service, our time, emotional life, thought life, etc.)
Two weeks ago we examined these area, which Luther referred to as our “stations-in-life.” Last week we examined the role of faith in creating margin. This week I’d like to look briefly at how we can practically participate with God in re-creating lost boundaries and in maintaining healthy boundaries in each of our life-stations.
In re-creating and protecting boundaries we enter into a battle we cannot fight alone. We need God’s grace to help us. Paul speaks of “putting on the full armor of God” (Ephesians 6). Each piece of spiritual armor listed is designed to create protective boundaries. However, we need to practice “putting on” this armor if we want to be protected on a daily basis within each of our life-stations.
As I discussed a few weeks ago, the bibilical words for “call” (Qara and Kaleo) show us that God’s act of calling is also an act of creating. Qara (in the Old Testament) is found when God “calls” forth the heaven (Gen 1) or “calls” the nation of Israel or “calls” Isaiah (Isaiah 6); in each case he is creating something or someone or creating Isaiah’s place as a prophet (qara can also render “to name” which creates identity). In the New Testament, kaleo also seems to have creative value. It is typically a “call” to salvation, but it also creates dozens of things Christians are called to be or do (they’re “called” to holiness, peace, fellowship, etc).
So, it is within this creative work of God’s “call” that believers are “called” to participate. As they do, they end up finding a new sense of identity, an identity that results in new boundaries along with the freedom to serve God within each station of life. How do we participate? We must understand the nature of each life-station into which God has placed us. We must examine the scriptures to discover its patterned way of acting / living within each of our stations. We must think through roles we are to play in Christ’s redemptive drama, along with what precisely IS and IS NOT required of us within each of these roles.
BMI helps Pastors, missionaries and others clarify these life-stations and set healthy boundaries around each station. We do this through a 6-step process (outlined below). I should preface these steps by saying this is NOT a formula. This is a process that requires self-examination, an evaluation of one’s heart and actual heart commitments.
1) Based on Psalm 37:4, we ask God to clarify the desires of one’s heart in each station of life
2) We filter these desires through our “PURPOSE” and “MISSION” (which we clarify previous to this exercise)
3) Based on these filtered desires we ask God to clarify our “VISION” for each station.
4) We break down our overall VISION in each station by developing major goals (i.e., for the coming year)
5) We work out our goals by developing practical “faith steps” to achieve each goal
6) We continue to re-assess our Purpose, Mission, and vision on a regular basis. This is best done with an “encouragement partner.”
Have you taken the time to clarify your vision within each of your life-stations? If so, are you continuing to re-assess your vision with an encouragement partner? If not, you may be living as I did for the first 35 years of my life. I didn’t have a sense of divine direction, and was confused and frustrated regarding my use of time and my future. However, once I clarified my vision, I felt like I was moving toward a target (Gods’ call) and I knew when I was off-track.
By God’s grace, let’s live with margin this week!