The first thing I tell young adults that I’m developing in missional living is that they need to learn to listen—to themselves, to Jesus, and to the people that God has placed in their lives.
I was mentoring two young women and telling them about our ministry, about the parties we throw. My next question was, “OK. Let’s role play for a minute. Let’s say you two take a new apartment in a new part of the city. How do you get started in the new neighborhood? What should you be or do to engage your new neighborhood for Jesus?”
And one said, “I’d probably throw a party. I really like to throw parties.” Her friend agreed, “Yeah, that would be a great way to meet people.”
But as I was asking more questions she shared that she’s really better talking to people one-on-one. Everything she was saying made it clear to me that throwing a party would be the worst idea in the world for her. “So,” I said, “why don’t you tell me again why you’d want to throw a party to meet your neighbors?”
“Well, because that’s what people do to meet their neighbors.”
“With every question I’ve asked you—do you think you’d enjoy throwing a party?”
“No, because I’d be worried the whole time about not doing it right.”
“So,” I said, “why do you think you should be throwing a party?”
“Honestly,” she said, “I don’t know.”
“So tell me, what do you already do? Where do you like to have fun? Where is a place that currently gives you life?” It turns out this young lady didn’t have anything in her life purely for fun, and she didn’t think she had time for it. I gave her an assignment to chart out what she did with her time the following week, and it turned out she had a lot more time than she had thought. I next asked her, “What are you going to add to your life to make it more fulfilling for you? Is it Crossfit? Music? Fishing?” We were keying in on the way God had designed her, and the places she could naturally connect with other people who don’t know God.
Then we went back to my first question. “Now if you moved into that neighborhood, what do you think you’d do?”
“I’d probably just go hang out at a coffee shop and get to know the barista.” Boom. For her, as a single-conversation person and things she actually enjoys, that’s exactly what she should be doing.
There’s this whole thing of knowing yourself and how God’s wired you. I tell young people, “You should say yes to a lot of things now that won’t really make sense to you later. Just try different things: Try throwing a party. Try this and that, and find out where you really find pleasure, where you sense the Lord’s pleasure in you. Once you figure that part out, that’s where you create your own unique space for ministry relationships, because it’s something you already want to do!” It takes time to discover some of these things about ourselves. But it’s not too hard to just ask, “What do I like to do?” And that’s a good place to start.
Different Designs But the Same Kingdom Work
Megan and I are just ridiculous extroverts, and we build our ministry around that. Sometimes people we’re mentoring will say, “I’m an introvert; I can’t be around people all the time. I can’t do what you do.” They think it disqualifies them in some way. But I think that difference is actually great. I don’t want them to do what I do, because that’s me! I want people to find out what they should do based on who they are. Our ministry has actually been made stronger because of people who aren’t like us. We had a woman living with us that we were discipling, 25 years old at the time. She was a highly social person, but was an introvert by nature. We’d have parties all the time, just inviting people into the house constantly. She learned her limits on socializing, and so she’d start to serve by just cleaning the house, not talking to anybody. While her hospitality wasn’t in interactions with people, she would create ministry space by cleaning the space we had created. She found her own role, which was radically different than mine. Her love for Jesus propelled her to serve in that way, in the same way that my love for Jesus would propel me to hand out a hundred flyers, talk to people, and see two hundred people come to a Halloween party. And both are valuable Kingdom contributions.
Most people don’t want to move into a neighborhood and throw parties like Megan and I do. I think it would actually be stupid for a lot of people to do that, because it’s not how they’re made. If serving in God’s Kingdom is really about listening to how the Lord has made you, then all of a sudden there’s freedom. All of a sudden, it’s not a burden to serve Jesus.
Psalm 139 says, “You knit me together in my mother’s womb.” I don’t know anything about knitting, but I’m pretty sure the one who’s knitting doesn’t go, “Oh, look! It ended up being a sock!” Instead, they will say, “I’m making a sweater. It’s going to have red and white stripes. And here’s the pattern.” If the Lord has knit you together in your mother’s womb, then he’s knit you in a specific way. So let’s pay attention to that way you were designed, and set you free to be that unique Jesus person God has made you to be.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Keith Peeler and his wife Megan recently moved to Bozeman, MT, with their three kids. They have been with CRM since 2010 and serve to create movements of committed followers of Jesus with the Accelerate Team.