26 May 7 actions to engage your culture
“Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel.” [Philippians 1:27]
Because of what we believe about Christ, our energy and strength should be intentionally directed towards others in a multitude of ways. Often, the ways that we can do this are much closer than we realize; they are hidden in our strengths, our experiences, our hobbies, and even in our daily schedules.
Consider some of these ways to create room to influence others in your life.
1. Identify your sphere of influence which you are uniquely suited to affect.
Jim has always been described as a go-getter at work. He had moved up through his company over the past 10 years, and is now leading and managing a significant portion of the company’s employees. Jim had received his promotions because of his ability to get things done and to achieve results efficiently. He had always viewed those who worked for him as another task to complete and as a liability to be managed.
Jim has now begun to understand that his coworkers are actually individuals in real need of the Gospel. He has been challenged to slow down his workday for the sake of building relationships. He is surrendering his need to always get things done for the sake of longer lunch conversations, morning coffee breaks, and caring questions throughout the workday. The lives of his coworkers begin to come to life; he is hearing their struggles and their joys, and he is speaking the truth of the gospel into their lives.
2. Anticipate opportunities and actively look for needs.
Anna is a single woman who longs to care for her own children. Ever since she was little, Anna played “house” with her dolls and loved taking care of her siblings. She hopes to adopt one day, but is not in a position to do so now. Instead, she provides respite care and date nights for parents of adopted and foster children. Anna is able to use her time and passion to serve orphans and vulnerable children in her unique season of life.
3. Engage your community with forethought and intentionality.
Mark is a creature of habit. Each day he runs the same route through his neighborhood, stops at the same coffee shop, and does his shopping at the same stores after work. Without even realizing it, he is crossing paths with the same people almost everyday.
Mark chooses to become aware of his surroundings while he is going through his day-to-day life. He is surprised by how many people know and recognize him. He begins to stop and chat with his elderly neighbor during his morning run, to ask the barista how his day is going, and to give his favorite cashier an extra tip. As his credibility at his regular locations grows, he discovers more and more opportunities to share his faith and to talk about the ways that God is working in and through him.
4. Be yourself.
Amanda is a stay-at-home mom. Her day is filled with snotty noses, dirty diapers, naptimes, and mud pies. Amanda loves what she does, but she doesn’t understand how she could possibly live “missionally”.
She begins to realize that her opportunities and responsibilities to share the gospel are closer to home than she thinks. When her 5-year-old is frustrated by the simple chores she gives him, she can teach him that we serve others because of what Jesus has done for us.
She also realizes that there are several stay-at-home moms that live on her street. She begins to invite them to her home one morning a week to drink coffee and talk about life. She learns that some are believers and some are not; as she shares her life with these women, she can talk about the ways that she is teaching her children to follow the Lord and the ways that the Lord is providing for her and her family.
5. Sacrifice time, money, comfort, & resources.
Kyle is a young, single man who has recently received a promotion at work. While he is excited about this opportunity, he isn’t sure what to do with the pay raise. His paycheck was already allowing him to pay his bills and put some away in savings. As he communicates his “problem” of a pay raise with his parents, they urge him to begin investing more into his retirement fund.
Kyle is involved in a mentor and after-school program for at-risk youth. Rather than building his retirement fund, Kyle decides to give a significant amount of his income to this program each month so that the organization can add more youth to the program.
6. Step into the unknown.
Tim and Stacy both grew up in less-than-ideal families. They have moved on from much of the struggle and pain of their childhoods, and they have established a good life for themselves. They love serving at church and also love being able to come home to the safe haven of their quiet, modest home.
The couple hears stories about the needs of orphans in Asia. The stories of brokenness and abuse remind them of their own pasts. At first, they shy away from the idea of adoption; they are fearful that a young child with baggage will bring to light the wounds of their past that they would rather keep hidden. As adoption shifts from a vague idea to the face of a young child, they know that they must open their homes and their hearts in obedience to God.
7. Bring others along with you.
John is a single man who loves to be outside. He and his friends will frequently be found kayaking, hiking, or building a new project. John is not ready to have his own family yet, but he knows he wants to use his season of singleness wisely.
Each week, John and his friends provide lawn care for the elderly and single moms in their community. John and his friends are using their strengths to provide for those around them.