Monday, September 10, 2007

Better Late than “The Late”

Our family just arrived in Kiev two weeks ago to embark on a new church plant. We have found a nice temporary home to stay in just outside the city, but this created one hurdle: how to get our daughters to school every day before we purchase a car. The first solution was the bus which took over an hour and we had to stand the whole way, sort of like communal surfing on rough water. The next solution was the train-subway-bus. This required a 20 minute walk to the train, but the ride was much better. We finally just hired a driver and split the cost with another missionary family who are in the same boat. This is working just fine.

However, one day the driver was running late, and I was convinced that he could not make it to school in time. There was a traffic jam going into the city but – welcome to Ukraine – there was no traffic going out of the city. Well, logic dictates on the mission field to adapt so the driver switched to the left shoulder of the road while carefully swerving to miss oncoming traffic. He then drove around a concrete barrier which was meant to stop us from driving where we were, passed through oncoming traffic back to the right side and proceeded to pass as many cars as was mortally possible. He then asked if we were still late to which I answered, “yes”, but I was thinking that I had rather be late than to be “the late Mike Watkins”. Our driver goes slower now but takes the same shortcuts.

In ministry, especially in church planting, there is always an urgency to start something quickly and build something quickly. One positive motivation for this is to win as many souls as possible. A negative motivation is to catch up with all the other ministries that seem to be passing us. This is dangerous and often fatal both in driving and in ministry. I have passed several accidents this week caused by either speeding or driving on the side of the road. I have also passed a few church-planting accidents in our years on the field and am thankful we have survived our own fender-benders.

  • My first priority these days is to stay strong in faith and character by staying close to God. This cannot be done in fifth gear. We need to park and listen.

  • My next priority has been getting our daughters happily settled in school and creating a happy home life even while in transition. We will next shop for a nice car and then go apartment hunting for something more permanent.

  • The next step is to start laying the practical foundations for outreach and the new church plant. We have exciting things planned, and we are already working on the details; however, taking shortcuts with the first priorities might cause disasters. Actually, shortcuts will definitely cause disasters. I will write more about dangerous shortcuts in my next post.

You know, God knows how to build His church, and He is not in a hurry. We can abide in His grace while working hard. The vision can still be big, but there needs to be a healthy plan that considers all of God’s priorities.

Unless the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain who build it;Unless the Lord guards the city, the watchman keeps awake in vain.
It is vain for you to rise up early, to retire late, to eat the bread of painful labors; f
or He gives to His beloved even in his sleep. Behold, children are a gift of the Lord,The fruit of the womb is a reward. Psalm 127:1-3

Oh, one more thing. Anyone from the British Commonwealth is welcome here because you can choose which side of the road best suits you.


Anonymous said...

Slow is fast, isn't it? =) believing together with you for a great church plant in Kiev. Greetings from Krakow

Przemek said...

I guess I didn't sign my post, it's Przemek, by the way, I like your blog Mike. Keep on!

Mike Watkins said...

Przemek, thanks for the words of blessing, and we look forward to seeing you and Magda in the near future. You all in Krakow are a blessing and a healthy example to others. God bless