Andy Stanley opened the main sessions with an encouraging message from Galatians 6, where Paul told the early believers they should not become weary of doing good because the harvest will only be reaped in time if we do not give up. He also said to do good as you have opportunity. Stanley mentioned a couple dangers in ministry that can be avoided: Burning out, or checking out. As a ministry grows, accessibility becomes a casualty (i.e. I can’t be available for 80 kids in the same way I can be for 4 kids). When we try to remain accessible to everyone, burnout is often the result. On the other hand, if we use ministry success as an excuse to be more inaccessible than necessary, we are checked out, literally hiding in our positions.
The solution, summed up in a single phrase as is usually the case with any message from Andy Stanley, is to “Do for one what you wish you could do for everyone.” Sometimes, we can be way too worried about being fair. But we don’t need to be fair. (Jesus sure isn’t.) We need to be engaged. We need to do the good that we can do, and know that by helping one, we often end up helping many more because it is God working in and through His people to do more than we could ever imagine doing on our own.
Who is it that needs your help today? You can’t say yes to every request for your time and attention – but choose those opportunities that will allow you to invest long-term and deeply into someone‘s life.
After another couple messages from Jon Acuff and John Maxwell (more about those later), there was an interview session with Katie Davis that illustrated the opening message vividly. (I wrote a little about her a couple weeks ago here.) Katie has spent the last several years (since her first year out of high school) caring for kids in Uganda, providing an amazing ministry for some of the poorest kids there. She is also the 23 year old mother of 13 girls that she’s adopted there! Her story is a perfect example of someone standing in the midst of tremendous need and doing what she can. She can’t feed and and take care of the medical and education needs of everyone, but she’s helping hundreds because she’s been willing to help a handful of “ones” and watch God multiply her efforts as others join her through Amazima Ministries.
A few weeks ago, I’d talked with my students about Katie and had read her book (Kisses from Katie), so I was familiar with her story. It was cool to hear from her in person and see a couple of her little girls interacting with some of the other people there at Catalyst. Katie’s interview was a great reminder that, not only is God present in the end results, but He is present in the mess of the process as well.