Humbly Serving

I think that all of us struggle with pride and humility. Or at least, that’s what I’m going to tell myself to feel better about it. But I feel the inner pull, the tension to seek after my own benefits and well-being before others. I struggle with it in my family, relationships, ministry, and pretty much everywhere. On most days, I submit to God and “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.” (Philippians 2:3-4). But I confess…I struggle with pride.

Pride is a big deal here in Uganda, especially for men. Uganda is not unique in that way, but here we see this struggle unfold in many churches across the country. It usually manifests itself in the leaders and they set the tone for the whole church. We regularly see church leaders fighting over control, authority, and power. They jockey for resources and being close to those who have resources. And most commonly, they fight to keep other leaders from growing and developing within their churches. And so when we talk to them about raising up leaders from within their churches, they automatically feel threatened. They fear this idea because it could cost them their title of pastor and their authority over the church. “If someone else comes up, then I must be down. And if I’m down, then I have nothing.”

Which is why Albert has been such an interesting person to disciple over the past year. Like all of us, Albert has his struggles. But unlike many of us, Albert has chosen the path of John the Baptist when he said, “He must become greater, and I must become less.” (John 3:30). Albert has been a pastor for many years. In fact, a few years ago when a church was in trouble and needed help, the other pastors from the area thought that Albert should be the one to go there and help them. So he had been pastoring that church for several years, away from his family and traveling a good distance to serve. When some things happened at that church, it was decided it would be best for Albert to return to his home church. People in the area assumed that when he returned he would retake the position of pastor and would be the authority at the church. But Albert chose a different path.

Albert looked at the men who had been leading the church he was returning to and saw many strengths and gifts in them. In talking with Albert, he said, “I want to see them grow. I know that they are the ones who can take the believers to the next level.” But he also wanted to serve there. So he offered to disciple the current leaders at the church but to take no title or position. He is pouring into them what he has received. And I do believe that God is using Albert’s humility to set an example in his church and area. I pray that God expands that example and it becomes contagious amongst the leaders.

“In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross!” Philippians 2:5-8

My prayer is that Albert’s story is an encouragement and a challenge to each of us. How are we serving? How does pride get in our way? How are we seeking after our own desires instead of the “interest of others”? We are all still on the journey to be made into the image of Christ. Let us not forget that humility is the way of Christ. I know Albert challenges me to be humble and play in the background!


Hospitality is a Gift

Then the King will say to those on his right, “Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.” Then the righteous will answer him, “Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?” The King will reply, “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.” – Matthew 25:34-40

True hospitality, true service, true love…whatever you want to call it. I have enjoyed getting to know my Ugandan friends and how they view hospitality. Some Ugandans are beautiful examples of hosting others in their homes and they see the true meaning of treating people as if Jesus himself is visiting them. The “could be entertaining angels” is a very real perspective here. The true feeling of hospitality is when we don’t groan at daily interruptions of visitors, when we are willing to help someone in need, and when we open our homes and our lives to other people.

Leland and I have had the privilege to visit friends, discipleship group members, pastors, and other people connected with the ministry in their homes and communities. And not only have we been blessed by our time with tea or a meal they have prepared for us, but we also get to see their home, meet their families, and experience a glimpse of their lives. It has meant a lot to us (and them) as we learn more about each other. Sometimes we even come back with gifts from their home. As a “Thank You” for coming to see them, they often send people with tomatoes, rice, bananas, and live chickens (even a guinea fowl one time).

One afternoon with the women’s discipleship group, we discussed hospitality and some cultural beliefs about hospitality. They talked about how some people viewed hospitality as a way to receive blessings if they hosted someone. It wasn’t a gift or pleasure, but a responsibility and an expectation of material blessings or answered prayers from God and/or from the person they hosted. There was uncomfortable laughter when we discussed true hospitality of not expecting anything in return. To truly serve. Hospitality is really a gift when done with no expectations and complete surrender to God with time, resources, and relationships. Hospitality is more than hosting. Hospitality is a life-style.

So after this conversation, and many others, about Christ-centered living, it has been so much fun for Mary (my co-leader) and me to visit each of the ladies in their homes and discuss all sorts of topics. It has been a joy to see them excited that we have come. It has been interesting to hear different perspectives about daily life. Their families come and greet us. We get to meet their children and husbands. My favorite visit was when the jaja (grandmother) came out and didn’t speak any English but was gushing with thankfulness in her language for us coming to spend time with her family. She left us with hugs and a huge smile.

I have been challenged by my Ugandan friends who have displayed the gift of hospitality. I am challenged by their example to not only host, but to serve people without feeling inconvenienced by my own time or schedule. It’s not always easy, and as I discovered, not everyone has the best intentions, but what a blessing to find those servants of God who truly serve as if Jesus himself came to see them. In your world, how are you using the gift of hospitality?

Living in a Judgemental World

I have read a few books over the last months that have really challenged me in how I love people. “You and Me Forever” by Francis Chan was more about my relationship with the Lord and serving His people than it was about marriage. And “Tattoos on the Heart” by Greg Boyle with Homeboy Industries is a beautiful testimony of how people need Jesus but they won’t know Him without finding love first.

We all battle judgement, both in feeling judged and in judging others. I’m not sure anyone can go anywhere without knowing judgement. And judgement is equal opportunity – singles, couples, poor, rich, men, women, moms, dads, kids, outcasts, celebrities…the list goes on and on. Unfortunately, it’s part of our flawed human nature. But that doesn’t mean we have to accept it or let it handicap us. Continue reading

Women’s Discipleship Update

If I am honest with you, this new year of women’s discipleship has been challenging to me in all aspects: physically, emotionally, and spiritually. In January, we celebrated meeting for a year. And while I didn’t verbalize my expectation, deep-down I was anticipating way more spiritual growth and eagerness to be transformed by Jesus than had actually happened.  After a couple meetings in the new year, I was discouraged and frustrated. Continue reading

If I Am A Missionary, We Are All Missionaries

I have been listening the audio book by Bob Goff ” Everybody Always”. If you haven’t read it yet, you should. It’s a really good book about loving people. And not in the “because the Bible tells me to” but the in practical everyday life reality of who we are called to be in Christ.

Early on in his book, he challenged me about being called a missionary. We are all on the mission field and we are all called to “go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you” – Matthew 28:19-20. Continue reading

Daring to Dream for 2019

This is our BIG prayer for 2019!!!

Every year we look back on what we have been a part of and reflect on what God has done (and is doing). We also begin to dream and plan for what the new year will bring, praying that God will continue to exceed our plans and goals with what He will do. After reflecting on what God did in 2018 through NTCC-Mbale (see post HERE), we are now daring to dream about what God might do in 2019: Continue reading