As the director of Alternative Missions I am often asked "How do you decide where to start a new mission project?" This is a great question and one that we have dealt with many times. The answers that work for us have an individual and corporate application. I think these principles can be applied to your life as you work through what God is directing you to do. The world is full of needs and opportunities to serve. How do you decide what or where God wants you to be involved?
We start by knowing ourself. Our organization has certain values, goals, directives, strengths, and culture that we need to be aware of. We have come to learn that knowing ourself is critical to making good decisions. While it can be a challenge to decide which need or opportunity to commit time, effort and resources to there are some basic principles that have been helpful to us.
Some things to consider when deciding where to get involved...
What has God been putting in your heart? In various ways and over time has a need been reinforced as something you should consider meeting? Is something or somewhere growing in your heart? What keeps coming up in prayer or through other spiritual disciplines? For something to be sustainable you have to have a passion for it. It has to be something you truly want to do. God works in us first to want and then to do His will. This is really important…see Philippians 2:13.
You have to give God the chance to speak to you so prayer and other spiritual disciplines are important. “God shares with the person who cares.” Put yourself in a position to hear.
Visiting the location or seeing the need first hand "on-site" has been really important for me. I am a person who benefits from spending time in a situation to confirm a direction. A little money and time spent investigating something can save enormous amounts of time and money down the road. Visit a location, spend time with people, and prayerfully listen to what is being said. God can speak to you as you investigate.
Because it takes a network of people and resources to be successful, include others who can help you evaluate what you are considering. Share what you are considering with others and ask them to pray with you. If possible bring them with you to check it out. God will confirm direction through others. For us, God works in so many ways through relationships.
If you think you should move forward then ask God for some miracles. One way to separate “good” ideas from “God” ideas is through the miraculous. Miracles are not limited to but can include others who want to join you, key people on location who can help make things happen, provision of finances or other resources needed, and confirming words of encouragement along the way. You don’t want to spend the resource of time, money and lives on “good” ideas. When the going gets tough, which it always does, you need to have the assurance that you are involved in a “God” idea. You will need ongoing miracles to succeed so make sure you have the assurance that you are in a place where God wants you. God will confirm direction through the miraculous.
With your heart’s passion confirmed, a team behind and with you, and the miraculous provision of God empowering you, you are ready to go.
What helps you determine what God wants you to do?