This year my husband, John, and I are celebrating twenty years in full-time ministry. Twenty years! (cue the confetti and horn blowers) Throughout those years we have had the joy of serving on staff at churches in New England and in Southern California. While the places look nothing like each other from the outside, I have found that the experiences are similar in many ways. Building bridges and a culture of love are always in style. There is joy in collaborating with a team and there is tension when leading through change. Watching people walk through the doors of your church for the first time never gets old and it is thrilling to step out of your comfort zone and into a new part of the world with the gospel.
In New Hampshire, I learned about the PEACE Plan for the first time. Our church took teams to Rwanda regularly. We saw ordinary people with ordinary gifting become a part of something so much bigger than themselves or their region. My husband and I went on PEACE trips to Rwanda with our church on the East Coast and then again with Saddleback Church teams. I can confidently say these missional experiences awakened my heart to biblical truths I had known my whole life about Jesus and ministry but had yet to experience whole-heartedly. Rwanda and the PEACE Plan became a beautiful bridge between my ministry season in New Hampshire and ministry at Saddleback.
This past October, I made my third trip to Rwanda, this time with a group of Saddleback women. I felt God remind me again in subtle ways that His church is beautiful and vast and thriving around the world. I heard him say to my heart “Get back to the basics of ministry—the seeds of love for the local church I planted in your heart years ago. Remember why you do what you do. My global church is bigger than the details in your plans, the hallways you walk, or platform you stand on.” I sensed God shine a light on a long-time personal ministry philosophy while on the ground in Rwanda—transformation is greater than transaction.
Here’s the deal. Transactional living says I care about what you can do for me. Transformational living says I care about you. Transactional living says me first. Transformational living says others first. Transactional living operates on a deadline. Transformational living offers grace. Transactional living thrives on quick exchanges. Transformational living is built on the currency of love.
The life-transforming power of Jesus far surpasses the daily transactions we exchange with others in our efforts to get things done. Transformational leadership moves us away from seeing people for what they can do for us and moves us toward seeing our co-workers, our family, our friends, and our neighbors in the same way that Jesus sees them. And you know what? That changes things. It changes the way we talk, it changes the way we work, and it changes the way we respond. Jesus does something when we enter anything we do with a posture of humility and ultimately increases our capacity to change in the world around us.
Here are four quick thoughts to steer us toward a life lived from a transformational perspective instead of a transactional mindset.
The life-transforming power of Jesus changes me first.
Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect. Romans 12:2
God can change me from the inside out.
The life-transforming power of Jesus gives us eyes to see people as he sees them.
And I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender, responsive heart. Ezekiel 36:26
God can soften our hearts to the needs of those around us.
The life-transforming power of Jesus moves us from a place of greed to a posture of grace.
If you’ve gotten anything at all out of following Christ, if his love has made any difference in your life, if being in a community of the Spirit means anything to you, if you have a heart, if you care – then do me a favor: Agree with each other, love each other, be deep-spirited friends. Don’t push your way to the front; don’t sweet-talk your way to the top. Put yourself aside, and help others get ahead. Don’t be obsessed with getting your own advantage. Forget yourselves long enough to lend a helping hand. Philippians 2:1-4
God changes our focus from me first to others first.
The life-transforming power of Jesus increases our capacity to influence change.
“Go home and tell everything God did in you.” So he went back and preached all over town everything Jesus had done in him. Luke 8:39
God gives us what we need to boldly share the change we have experienced in our own lives.
Transformed living beats transactional living any day of the week. Living a transformed life is actually what The PEACE Plan is all about. Its what ministry is all about. Its what daily Christian living is all about. God using ordinary people who have surrendered their lives to him, to do extraordinary things.