Personal blog detailing the perspective of life and ministry that Christ Jesus my Savior has given me.
By looking at the title, I am sure that there are many people in ministry who would read this and would say that ministry travel is not easy at all. Perhaps they look at it from a perspective of a parent dealing with tired and frustrated children. Or maybe they look at it as the driver of the vehicle that just had it's second blown tire in the last four hours. Or perhaps they even look at it as the person who is just road weary and tired of fast food. While my family and I do not travel near as much as some people in ministry, I certainly understand and have been able to relate all too often to all of those examples (if i have one more quarter pounder from McDonald's....). However, after recently spending some time on the road representing the ministry, I came back with some lessons that the Lord taught me through it all. It does not mean that there still will not be the cranky child or the "perfectly timed" flat tire, but it does mean that God is far above anything that we can encounter. This list is not meant to be exhaustive and I know that there are many more people out there who could offer more counsel than I could. However, I just wanted to be an encouragement to someone who may be dreading more travel. It really can be easier.
1. Start every trip with prayer. This point may sound obvious, but I am amazed in my own life how often I do not pray as I should. This is especially true when it involves something that I believe i can control. If I can control it, I really do not need to bother God with it, right? WRONG! I have found that when I do things in my own power, I always fail. If you have ever traveled for ministry, you can agree that you do not always get to control the trip. Sometimes, the simplest of trips can turn into the most complicated event in the history of the world. Would it not be best to just start the trip with prayer and let God do as He sees fit? If you are involved in a ministry that is in the business of proclaiming the good news of Jesus Christ, please keep in mind that Satan hates you and wants to make you miserable. And, YES, he will use a trip and all the details to frustrate you. I would much rather have Christ fight Satan than me try to. Paul said in Philippians 4:6, "...in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known unto God." I believe that every thing means EVERY THING! Before each day starts, we as a family pray and ask God to bless the day, do as He sees fit, keep us safe as we travel, and help us to enjoy each other's fellowship. At the end of the day, we thank God for allowing us safety and the opportunity to talk about Him. The day goes so much better when you give it to the Lord first. This applies to ministry travel as well as everyday Christian living.
2. Remember the purpose of your trip. Often times, I find myself getting discouraged about traveling when I get my attention off of the Savior and onto me. When that happens, the road trip gets too long, the kids get extra loud, and the gas tank seems to empty quicker than normal. When I think selfishly, I dwell on circumstances instead of the Savior. I must remember that the travel that I am doing is not for me or my name, but rather for the work of the Jesus Christ. Specifically for my family and I, we are out representing BPS El Paso. This ministry provides people an opportunity to go to the mission field, help reach the lost with the Gospel, and see God work in a greater way than ever before. That is pretty awesome! We get to bring the lost to the Savior and see the Almighty do what only He can do! Sure circumstances may not go the way that I want, but if God gets glory for it all, then it really does not matter what I want. When we travel for our ministry, we are not traveling for us. We are traveling for Him.
3. If you travel with your family, remember that they are your family. I would love to tell you that every moment traveling as a family has been filled with laughter, hand-holding, and sweet memories. The reality is, we are all human. My wife and I have not always agreed on where to stop. Sometimes my kids have to use the restroom...five minutes after we just left the last one. Sometimes, there is road construction. Okay...most of the time there is road construction. But my family is not my enemy! Remember in the first point how I said that Satan hates you and wants to make you miserable? He loves it even more if he can use your family to do it. When you get tired, or the visit did not go well, or things just do not go your way, remember that your family needs your love and leadership more than the blame you can cast on them. Instead of reacting to a frustrating circumstance, perhaps a moment of family prayer will bring everyone back to a right frame of mind. I am so very thankful that the Lord has allowed my family and I to travel together. It certainly has drawn us closer to each other. Not every moment is smooth and I certainly can continue to improve in this area, but I definitely would not trade the time with them for anything.
4. Be passionate about your ministry. When I had the privilege of working on the pastoral staff at a church, I was able to meet many people that were in ministry. I am afraid to say that not all of them seemed to be joyous about being in ministry. My wife and I made the decision a long time ago that we would love representing BPS El Paso and sharing with others what God is doing through that ministry. After all, it was the place God called us to. I would think that there should be no other response than absolute joy! We love this ministry and we thoroughly enjoy getting to meet new people and tell others about BPS El Paso. Passion can be contagious. Go to any sporting event and it does not take long for the passion from the fans to result in a lot of noise. The passion spreads quickly! Now, I am not saying that you should represent your ministry by painting your face or yelling as loud as you can. But I do believe that when your time of representation is done, the people you shared your ministry with should want to be a part of it. They should be excited about what God is doing because you are excited about what God is doing! Do not let travel take away your passion. Look at it as an opportunity to pass on the joy that God has given you. Our Savior deserves nothing less!
5. Have fun. Unfortunately for some ministry travelers, they never get to experience the joy of what they get to do because they do not see the fun that is in it. I believe that it is perfectly acceptable and right to have a blast serving Jesus! Think about it--there is joy in serving Jesus! For different people or families, fun can mean different things. Maybe instead of stopping at fast food for the 382nd time on the trip, maybe your family would enjoy a nicer sit down restaurant. Having someone else serve you is better than having to serve yourself out of a fast food bag. Maybe during one of your stops in a small town, find a local park for your children to play at while you and your spouse relax. A 30 minute break could go a long way to making the trip more enjoyable. And it usually makes the children tired and ready for a nap in the car. If you will be passing through an area where friends or family are, try to schedule it so you can spend time together. We recently spent two days with some dear friends. It was refreshing for us and allowed us to enjoy that part of the trip. We also got to see several ministry friends all over the country. If you are ever passing near a tourist attraction, it may be something that your family would find interesting. Remember, having fun with what God has called you to do will make the ministry even more enjoyable and may encourage your family to continue on in the work of the Lord.
These 5 things are certainly not all that there is to say on the topic and they certainly are not very deep. But I have found great satisfaction in learning or being reminded of these things and I am thankful that the Lord brought these to my mind. I pray that someone would find encouragement from these thoughts and they, too, can find that these certainly do make traveling for the ministry easier.