International Ministries

Finding Flow Together

August 14, 2014 Journal
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"Because you have this faith, I now remind you to stir up that inner fire which God gave you at your ordination. For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but a spirit of power and love and a sound mind."
2 Timothy 1:6-7

According to wellness researcher Mihály Csíkszentmihályi, flow is completely focused motivation. It is, in essence, characterized by complete absorption in what one does. The hallmark of flow is a feeling of spontaneous joy, even rapture, while performing a task. I believe flow in a biblical sense is the inner fire given by God that Paul refers to in his letter to Timothy.

I tend to find my flow whenever I am creating, but especially as a pastor, when I help to create safe and sacred spaces of connection with God and people. Recently, when I was in Green Lake, Wisconsin, to celebrate the 200th anniversary of American Baptist's engagement in mission with all of my International Ministries colleagues from the U.S. and all over the globe, I was in awe at how God's Spirit flowed in and through us. As we anticipated the arrival of over 1000 mission supporters and international partners in ministry for the World Mission Conference the following week, we came together during the All Staff Gathering to decompress, discern and dream of God's future for us. I was asked to pull together a team to lead our twice daily worship times. Though I had worked for months preparing and was extremely busy during the week, I had SO MUCH FUN! Together we found our flow. We heard the Psalms read in various languages because colleagues whose heart tongue is not English shared their voices. A number of Missionary Kids and new missionary colleagues offered their musical and technological gifts, while artistic veterans lent their experience, expertise and style to decorate our gathering space and guide us in collaborative and symbolic art-making. Everyone was encouraged to bring themselves, their exhaustion and excitement, their unique identities and cultures, their burdens and their blessings, their hopes, expectations, disappointments, distinct opinions and experiences, all of the elements of their life story, to our gathering. God's Spirit not only welcomed each of us, but moved in and around and in spite of us creating a beautiful masterpiece out of our imperfect and broken offerings. As we gathered around the cross on Thursday night, candles were lit, tears flowed, heartache was honored and heard and souls were knit together in profound ways.

I cannot express how deeply grateful I am for the opportunity that we had to come together, celebrate who we have been and are as a missional movement and dream of how we can be a significant reflection of God's amazing grace and glory throughout the world in the days to come. For the countless hours of preparation and commitment by our Valley Forge partners in ministry, the abundant generosity of donors, the prayers of faithful mission supporters and the awe-inspiring talent of my missionary colleagues and their families, I am truly grateful. Being invited to use my gifts for ministry to serve my colleagues and witnessing their gifts as well was like jumping into and splashing around in a life-giving river. Freedom and fun joined forces and joy flowed in and out of us. Out of our times together, innovative ministry and new approaches to collaborative work were born.

My schedule for 2015 is filling up with exciting opportunities to work together with other IM colleagues to find our flow, creating beauty out of brokenness and restoring hope through Christ.

Prayer points:

Special thanks to Bill Mason for these photos he took of our memorable week together.

Thank you for being a beautiful drop in my river and helping me stay in my flow,