The other day our cluster support mom said to the group that living with and working in a team of 16 is like having 15 mirrors staring back at you, showing you who you really are and the things about you that need to change. I have found that it is true: every personality conflict, misunderstanding, or word that is misspoken bounces right off that mirror and comes back to hit you. I have discovered as well that living with and working in a team of 16 that are seeking the heart of God in a radical way and growing just like you is like having 15 mirrors reflecting the light of the God onto your soul like a mirror reflects the light of the sun, exposing areas of your life that you didn’t even know were there and like the magnifying glass and the ant, burning away things inside that don’t need to be there. I have never experienced anything so challenging in my life.
When so many members of the team get up in the middle of the night to seek the face of God, it makes it a lot harder to miss your own prayer time during the night as well. When others are so faithful, it is a healthy challenge to remain faithful as well. This morning I had to change my prayer spot because my spot was already taken at 3:30am. My favorite problem I have ever had in my life. Even more than spending a certain amount of time at a certain time of the day with God, there is the challenge to every day be open to whatever it is that God would show you, because at some point throughout the day you will be posed the question by someone else on the team, “What did God teach you this morning in your time with Him?” They aren’t posing the question because they were told by leadership to do so or because there is an agreement between you and that person to talk about that every day. They pose the question because they really want to know and because they are eager to share with you the things that God is teaching them in their time with Him as well. Right now I have three people on the team that regularly ask me what God is showing me and I truly delight in hearing how God is growing them as well. I am one of those who asks other people out of the blue too, because I just love to hear the way that God is speaking.
I am not saying that it is difficult for me to get up in the middle of the night or that I struggle to hear from God in the morning. Quite the opposite. My prayer time in the middle of the night is my favorite thing that I do, and I hear His voice more clearly in the middle of the night than I do at any other point through the day. Every morning God rocks my world. Sometimes He speaks to me about some tough issues and certain sins that are in my life. Sometimes He shows me certain scripts that I have lived by that need to be rewritten. Sometimes it brings me to tears. Sometimes He assures me that He is proud of me and that I am exactly where He wants me to be. Whatever it is that He is saying, the voice of God brings joy and peace through the challenges He gives and the ways He is causing me to grow. Looking into the 15 mirrors staring back at me (even through the children) has challenged me to be obedient to the voice of God and change, because there is nothing hidden from a family of God that is seeking His face and lives in His presence. It is like living in a constant and intense light. There is no room for anything that does not belong in the light.
One of the hardest things for me is when God talks to another member of the team and gives him or her a message to say to me. Sometimes the message is encouraging and sometimes it is painful. Sometimes I flat out don’t agree with it and sometimes it causes me to get defensive. However, even that is a mirror. The other day a team member told me that God revealed to him that I still have many areas of my life that need to be healed, and immediately inside of me I recognized a defensive spirit rising up inside. There were so many things I wanted to say to defend my viewpoint, that never in my life have I been so healthy emotionally or spiritually, and that is absolutely true. However, I bit my tongue, received what he had to say, and took it to God during my prayer time. I found out that what he had to say was true as well. There are ways that God wants to develop me as a leader that we have not even begun to talk about yet, and without hearing that word from God through my teammate, it may have taken me longer to see that area of my life. It was incredibly painful to hear, but it opened the door for God to speak into my life in a profound way, and for that I am so thankful. And that is only one example of a mirror.
Another mirror comes through personality conflict. How do I respond to someone that I don’t understand? Do I question them? Do I fight with them? Do I talk about them negatively to other people? And how do I respond to someone who does not necessarily earn my respect the way that I feel they should? How do I respond to my leaders when they make decisions and lead in a way that I don’t agree with? I read in James two days ago, “Dear brothers and sisters, not many of you should become teachers in the church, for we who teach will be judged more strictly. Indeed, we all make so many mistakes. For if we could control our tongues, we would be perfect and could also control ourselves in every other way…People can tame all kinds of animals, birds, reptiles, and fish, but no one can tame the tongue. It is restless and evil, full of deadly poison. Sometimes it praises our Lord and Father, and sometimes it curses those who have been made in the image of God. And so blessing and cursing come pouring out of the same mouth. Surely, my brothers and sisters, this is not right! Does a spring of water bubble out with both fresh water and bitter water? Does a fig tree produce olives, or a grapevine produce figs? No, and you can’t draw fresh water from a salty spring (3:1-2, 7-12). CONVICTION. I am a leader in the church, and therefore am judged more strictly by those who follow me and also by God, because I am a guide for others. I should have much more spiritual maturity than before. It is a hard word to hear, but there is a level of urgency in character development. If I am an example for others of Christ, He must be my only source. He must be the fresh water; salty water forever turned off. Tongue kept in check.
Yesterday as I was watching the way that each member of our team DOMINATED their specific role in the church service, I realized that in a team of 16, the 15 mirrors close in and shut out any excuse to shy away and not step up. Whether the role was playing the piano, sharing announcements, preaching, or leading the follow-up time after salvation, each member had no choice but to become what was needed for the situation. I thought back to times before in my life (and to be honest a struggle that is still inside of me) when I would back away from a task because I was afraid of failure. Watching others stepping up courageously makes it a lot easier to do the same myself, and I have found that God works in a powerful way through those who decide to live in faith and victory. Some of the things that I used to think required the most courage are the easiest parts of my job now. I am doing things that I never dreamed that I would do, and there is no space for backing down. There are two choices: DO IT or DO IT WELL. Every day I face the challenge of many tasks, and there is no question of whether or not I will do it. I have to. The decision I have to make is whether or not I will do it well, and when there are 15 mirrors looking on, it helps keep me accountable to do it well. When before I would think that I was doing a pretty good job, I have found there is a much higher standard now, and it is absolutely the best place to be.
Each person I live with is a mirror, and each person I live with reflects a different part of me that needs to grow. What is it like to live with and work in a team of 16 people? It is like having 15 mirrors staring back at you, showing you who you really are and the things about you that need to change. It sounds terrifying, and often that is exactly what it is. It is humbling, that is for sure. However, it is healthy and I am drinking up every moment of it. I am enjoying seeing the Spirit of God just go wild inside my heart, inside the hearts of the members of my team, and as a result going wild in Ambato. Every day, all day. This is what it means to be a part of the Kingdom of God, from the inside out. I am ALL IN.