The purpose of the Women's Ministry is to
step alongside women on their walk with the Lord;
welcoming, encouraging, ministering, and providing opportunities
for spiritual growth and disicipleship.
Women's Ministry Director
It's clearly time for target practice.
I don't set goals or resolutions. I'm sure most of you over 40 are probably cheering, Here! Here! We realize they are generally pointless at this stage of the game. Goals have never worked for me. I'm not a sporty kind of gal, so I've never charged a goalie for the score or been part of a set-up shot. I'm not competitive. Goals are too general and vague to me. At what exactly, am I aiming? In junior high, I tried softball. I was in left field, a safe place for an unproven "athlete". The coach had to yell at me to get my attention back in the game. We were visitors for an away game on a sweet field and it was a beautiful day and I was looking around admiring the locale. I might as well have been picking daisies.
I need a clear path. Goals don't seem to have paths. They have playbooks and flowcharts, maneuvers and twists and turns. They crisscross here and there until someone dunks a ball or slams a puck into a net or runs a touchdown. They don't seem to follow a direct path. My mind doesn't work that way. I'm overwhelmed from the start.
Instead of goals, I'm taking up target practice in 2021. There is no one between me and the target, no lay-up shots, no rebounds to plan. There's a distinctive red dot at which to aim and shoot. I got this idea from a woman I met online this year, whom I respect and admire a great deal. Goals haven't worked for her either. She started making targets instead of goals in recent years and she has been very successful in meeting them. It makes so much sense. I can pinpoint what I'm shooting. It forces me to identify what I want to accomplish and readily know the way. It will be easy to see if I'm off target and how to adjust for a direct path to the bullseye. (Paul, the apostle, ran a race and the target was the finish line; his analogy correlates. Acts 20:24 " . . my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me. . . ." I Corinthians 9:26 "I do not run like someone running aimlessly.")
To help me hone my "archery" skills this year, I'm reading, Visioneering, by Andy Stanley, Charles Stanley's son. He's written several books and he's clicking with me right now. This book is full of insights and practical stories and examples, and comes highly recommended. Most of all, it clearly and thoughtfully lays out the process of how visions are birthed successfully. I'm excited for this year. I have targets, each with its own direct line-of-site.
On a side note and enlightening to me, Andy Stanley points out that meeting a goal or target, bringing a vision to fruition, is not the definition of success. Oh, really? Those are mile markers, rewards along the way. My success is remaining faithful to following the path. My success is showing up every day for work, being a good life example for my children and friends, being faithful in my follow-through. If I'm not showing up, being a good example, or faithful in tasks, I can't call myself successful. Finishing a project is a marker, among many along my life-path.. Success is continuing along the path, progressing and growing in the natural, mental, and spiritual realms.
A friend recently posted on Facebook, "There is something special that the Lord does in us when we take the time to work until completion. . . . . What stands between you and what God has for you is dirt, dust, and rocky ground . . . many will give up before they receive it. It is a work of perseverance that develops character." This is the success to which Andy Stanley is referring. Yes, the job was accomplished, but that is just a mile marker in this woman's life. (BTW, she literally works in the dirt, dust, and rock.) Her success is in being faithful to what she's been called to do, what she's committed to do. It is in the routine day-to-day tasks, it's in determining to stand when there's nothing else you can do, it's not giving up when others do, this is a success. These are character-building days, lessons learned that aren't usually apparent until months or years later. (Romans 5:3-4 NIV)
Doesn't this validate the mundane tasks and days of life? Aren't you feeling pretty successful right now? That load of laundry doesn't seem as daunting. There's satisfaction knowing that helping your kids with school work, especially this year, is part of another successful day. You might even be refreshed to try a new recipe for your family. Maybe Monday morning won't be so dismal.
I encourage us to reflect on 2020. Maybe we should reconsider some of what we thought were "failures”. If you're like anyone else, after what you considered a failure, I'm sure you have worked to do or be better the next time. You have continued to show up for your family. You may have thrown your daughter's cute, new outfit in the dryer instead of hanging it to dry, like my mom once did. (Too bad I didn't shrink three sizes like that darling outfit did.) You didn't leave home. You continue to do the laundry and show up as needed for family, friends, and work. You are a success. Yes, satan would have you think otherwise. Shut him up! He’s a liar!
This link has several encouraging scriptures to remind you of who you are and whose you are.
I especially like I Peter 2:9. “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.” Choose a few and learn them, quote them out loud, as loudly as needed, as often as needed. Write them down and carry them with you. They are life!! (Proverbs 4:20-22).
We look at King David and say he was a success. God called him a man after His own heart. But, look at the events of David's life. He was anointed king at a young age, but spent seven years soothing King Saul with music, four years running from the king, and another four years in exile while waiting to go home and be crowned King of Jerusalem. He was devoted to King Saul, who searched the country to kill him. David's own men were ready to stone him when their families, including David's wives, were captured by the Amalekites. If David can stop to strengthen himself in the Lord during all of this turmoil, shouldn't we do likewise? (I Samuel 30:6) All of this, including his early years as a shepherd, prepared David to be a godly king, later to be asked to rule over all the tribes of Israel, not just in Jerusalem. He successfully stayed on target, honoring God in his walk and calling, and repenting when necessary.
We can look at Joseph's life and take encouragement. God gave Joseph two dreams, visions; yet he was sold to foreigners and became a slave. Then he was falsely accused and sent to prison. It was thirteen years before God fulfilled the visions he had given Joseph. What was Joseph's attitude during the thirteen years? I'm sure he was devastated to be torn from his homeland and sent to a strange land with strange customs and food, and where no one reverenced his God. He must have encouraged himself in the Lord. Promotions are given to faithful, productive, positive, responsible, proactive, and insightful individuals. Joseph was faithful (a success) at Potiphar's house and in the prison, rising to the top in each case. These experiences prepared him to be second-in-command in Egypt. Do you see a trend? Could it be that God is preparing you and me for something? Will WE stay on target?
Is it possible to look at our day-to-day lives and see that we are successful in God's eyes? He's given us assignments that are broken down into daily tasks and obligations. I find this interesting; it's best if we take one day at a time as we work at our assignments, but it's best to look at the whole of our lives if we are to consider our faithfulness and success. My mom's philosophy has helped me when I’m at a spiritual crossroads. Basically, if circumstances or events happened which were beyond her control, she left the situation to God to provide the answer, or resources, or bring resolution. God always met her at her point of need.
If I am faithful in my day-to-day responsibilities and if unforeseeable events beyond my control take place, I am not the one to fix them. I take logical steps and I don't become paralyzed by fear. I do what I can and leave the rest to God. There are many promises and godly words of instruction to encourage ourselves in the Lord at those confusing times. First Peter 5:7 immediately comes to mind, "Casting all your care upon him; for he cares for you." and Proverbs 3:5-6, "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight."
I'm enthusiastic about 2021. I know I have been successful in the past; and now I know that includes areas in which I initially thought I'd failed. I didn't quit; that made the difference between success and failure in God's eyes. In some cases, I may not have reached the mile marker yet, but I'm still on God’s target for me. Day-to-day tasks are not always easy, but knowing I'm successful if I don't quit, will encourage me to not be disappointed in myself for slow progress or for taking a breather from time to time.
I am praying for a banner year for each of us. I pray we will understand our calling and step into it and not give up. Let's encourage each other. If He gives you a vision, pray about it, wait, and prepare until He gives you a direction and resources to move ahead. If He calls us to something, He is faithful to equip us and provide for our success. I recommend Stanley's book, Visioneering, on how to proceed if you feel the Lord has given you a vision, and for how to obtain the dreams and visions you have for your life and family. It's a very practical handbook.
Women, I echo Pastor Shawn's sermon of January 3, prayer and being in the Word daily will prepare and strengthen us for day-to-day life, success, staying on target, and for what God has in store (Jeremiah 29:11). Also, know that God isn't going to be able to call us into many services if we aren't prepared. If you missed Pastor Shawn's sermon, it should be available online.
We made it through 2020. We've made it this far in life. We've been successful, in many cases, more than we realize. No matter how we approach this new year, setting goals or targets or playing "wait and see", God calls us to stay in His Word and pray daily. We would all do well to commit Joshua 1:5-9 to memory and remember God's promises: Be strong and very courageous. God is with you wherever you go. He will never leave you or forsake you. Obey Him and you will be successful. Meditate on His law (Word) and you will be prosperous and successful. With those words resounding in our ears and hearts, Go forth, Warrior Woman of God. Grab your arrows, take your aim, breathe, and shoot!
Amusing & Thought-Provoking Archery Sayings
"Other archers are not my competition. I stand with them, not against them." - Unknown (Hmmmm)
"An archer cannot hit the bullseye if he doesn't know where the target is." - Unknown
"It concerns us to know the purposes we seek in life, for then, like archers aiming at a definite mark, we shall be more likely to attain what we want."
- Aristotle (Do you see this? Aristotle!?)
"If you don't have a target to aim for, you are going to miss it anyway." - Clifford
"It's basic research: shoot an arrow in the air.
Where it lands, paint a bullseye." - Elizabeth Streb (LOL, LOL)
Blessings on you, women of God! “This is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight . . . “ Philippians 1:9
Check us out on Facebook: “Women’s Ministry @TFH”