- Community Group that meets during the week throughout the year
- Other close friends with whom we can be authentic
- People we've known through short-term Bible studies
- Elders and other church leaders whose leadership and authority we have been under
- People we serve and volunteer alongside
- Neighbors that we feel comfortable to hang out with, just having fun
- Mentors that we only meet with once or twice per year, but who share wisdom
And we know that we need all these forms of community wherever we go, and we've been praying for it (and thanks to those of you who have been, too). But during my first week in Allendale, God surprised me by dropping it right into my lap.
|Joe Mole, outside of the community center in Fairfax|
The first week that I was in Allendale, I got to have lunch with Joe (only about the 4th or 5th time that I met him, though we had spoken on the phone a few more times than that). We chatted about family, and then he said some things that marked me. By giving me a challenge, encouragement, and a warning, he was showing the love and community that I desperately need. This is a sampling of what he said:
- Challenge. "Don't be busy as a bee. We don't need you to just buzz around. People are going to ask you to do a lot. You are going to have to say, 'Let me think about it.' And if I see you just being busy, I'm going to tap you on the shoulder and tell you to stop." Just a few weeks earlier, I was sharing with leaders at Grace that I was concerned that I would let myself get caught up in too many things, that I would have a hard time knowing what to stay out of. I'm glad that Joe willingly put himself in a position to hold me accountable.
- Encouragement. "I see in you a lot of what Paul saw in Timothy." Timothy was probably a 20-year old pastor of a new church. For Joe to call me a "Timothy" was a huge and surprising compliment. And even better, I now know that have a "Paul" in Allendale, who will pour into me.
- Warning. He nearly choked up as share a personal story of when he began to do ministry in this area, when his kids were young. "When I dove in to this ministry to change the community, I almost lost my family, my kids. But with my wife's support and love, and with lots of time, I had to regain the trust of my kids." I could totally see myself doing this same thing, neglecting my family for the sake of ministry. Then Joe added, "If you gain this entire community and lose your family, don't you dare tell me that you are successful."
After our discussion, we both agreed that the words he said were from God, as they were exactly what I needed as we move into this mission for our lives. And throughout the rest of that afternoon, whenever I thought about our conversation, I remembered it with tears (yes, tears) of joy, knowing that the Spirit was at work in my life, for my benefit.
I am thankful for a God who uses ordinary "joes" like us for His purposes. And I am thankful for a guy like Joe Mole who is willing to show me true love and community.
I hope you have some "ordinary joes" in your life, too.