Being a person who struggles as bit with being organized led me to go “old school” by buying a planner and writing goals every night for the following day. The first weekend I spent some time working out different categories of my life that needed to become more organized (each with it’s own color pen of course) ending up with Lesson Plans, Research, Writing (for the blog), Personal Goals, Training (running), Ministry (volunteering), Visa Paperwork, Communication, Bible Study, and Teaching.
At the top of the list is an area of ministry were I am weakest, and the one thing my time or energy is devoted to other than returning to Australia.
It’s to have a strong social life.
Now I realize many of you would laugh at the idea of spending time with friends being a part of missions, but in reality it is one of the most important (and overlooked) parts of reaching others with the Gospel. In the busyness of todays world it’s almost impossible to share Christ with others (except for a short five minute conversation) or make a true impact upon their lives for Him because we are all in “work mode” going from task to task on our never ending to do list. There’s not anything wrong with that obviously because the Lord wants us to work hard, however ministry within our culture is done in a relaxed atmosphere.
Like having a coffee with a friend or seeing a movie, going out to dinner together, watching the big game at a friends house, or even working out at the local gym. It’s in situations like this we can have real conversations with friends that last longer than the normal “how are you doing? I’m good at you? I’m fine” kind of conversations. And these are created when we pursue having a social life by spending time with friends outside the work environment.
Of course creating free time for connection is an incredibly hard thing to do (I hear you laughing hysterically parents with children) but this is a huge part of going to the Unsaved with the Gospel instead of expecting them to approach us. Please don’t think I’m judging you because my social life is completely non-existent (unless you call watching Dr. Who on Netflix a social life) but the Lord is helping me this year spend more time with actual people in the evenings, and less time with my TV.
A big part of the social life challenge isn’t actually about lack of time or energy sine that kind of situation makes us very vulnerable. Going into a new social scene like a Half-Marathon Running Group next week (yes I know I’m insane) makes me feel like an eighth grader looking for a seat during lunch time all over again. Sadly I was never one of the cool kids so the phrase “this seat’s taken” is in my mind while making eye contact with everyone in the room. Going into situations were you don’t know people also raises the odds of something embarrassing or humiliating so having a random phrase to deal with awkward moments is necessary (my favorite is “so who wants pizza?”).
For me personally there is also the fact that I’m thirty-seven and single which means it’s really easy to become the weird old guy who hangs out with teenagers and tries waaaaaaayyyyyy too hard to sound cool using phrases like “bad” and “were’s the beef?”
The awkwardness and challenges of interacting with people on a personal level is enough to leave me running towards the safety of Dr. Who. But in a world that craves deeper relationships a social life (embarrassing situations and all) is a necessary part of our outreach….and it deserves our time