By Tyler Brown | #Sentrepreneur
In my last post, I shared about two benefits of being a missionary with a job. As I have embarked on this journey of marketplace missions, I have discovered that there are also a couple of barriers. In my role as a missionary, I am praying for God to help me see breakthrough to movement in my city. In my job as a window washer, I am seeing a couple of barriers to that movement. In this article, I’ll share about the fear of man in my heart and the lack of time in my schedule and how God is helping me to overcome some of these barriers.
Barrier #1 - Fear of Man
One of the greatest barriers to movement in the workplace is fear. Here’s an example of how that has played out in my job. “I can tell you’re not from here,'' remarked one of my customers, “Where are you from?” they asked. As I told them where I was from and that I had just recently moved out here to Utah, I awaited the inevitable question: “Why did you move here?” This question paralyzed me in that moment because of a deep fear in my heart. I didn’t want to offend my customer and I didn’t want to lose their business. I sensed God’s prompting to share with them that I was a follower of Jesus and that He had led me here, but because of the fear in my heart, I avoided the truth. I told them some generic response instead of obeying God. As I experienced the convicting discipline of the Lord, I started asking Him to help me overcome this barrier in my heart.
To help break through barriers we like to consider three S’s: Scriptures. Stories. Suggestions. What scriptures deal with the fear of man? Does anyone have stories of where they have seen God help them overcome the fear of man? And what are some practical suggestions that we might begin to put into practice?
Scripture: I think of passages like Galatians 1:8 where Paul shows us how to seek the approval of God rather than the approval of others, or passages such as Matthew 10:28 where Jesus teaches us to fear God rather than people. I’m also encouraged by Proverbs 29:25 which says that the fear of man lays a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is safe.
Story: As I meditate on these passages, and others, I have seen God help me begin to overcome this barrier in my heart. I have found that the best way to combat the fear of man is to pray for the power of Jesus. Jesus demonstrates his love for us even at a great cost to himself. It may cost us to share Jesus in the workplace, but we remember that a disciple is not above his teacher. And if Jesus was willing to love us even at the cost of his life, we are able to, in his power, love others. Even if it costs us our job.
Suggestion: Practically, we must spend time with Jesus and we must pray for one another- that God would give us boldness to proclaim the gospel (Ephesians 6:19). I hope you’ll pray for me, that God would continue to fill me with his wisdom and power and freedom from the fear of man as I seek to share his love with my customers. And I hope you’ll enlist others to pray for you as God gives you his wisdom and power to share the love of Jesus in your workplace.
Barrier #2 - Lack of Time
Another barrier to movement in marketplace missions is a lack of time due to the busyness of your schedule. Here’s a quick story of how that has played out in my work. I was on the way to my next window cleaning appointment when I stopped to get some gas. When I went inside I wanted to engage the cashier because I overheard her talking to the other cashier about some doubts she was having with Mormonism. But I was in a hurry. I said to God “I know you’re working here, but I’ve got some work to do over there.” So I paid for my gas and rushed off to my job. I wish I had more time. This instance has caused me to reconsider my schedule and think about ways I can maximize my time on mission.
Scripture: Some scriptures I think of are Ephesians 5:15-16 which encourages us to make the best use of our time, or Philippians 1:10 where Paul prays for us that we may be able to discern what is best. We could also think about Colosians 1:29 and toil in our labor with all the energy that he powerfully works within us.
Story: One of the realities that I have found as I have sought to coordinate my schedule for mission is that I am limited. And God is beginning to teach me that this limitation actually brings him glory. Because he is not limited, He will accomplish the core missionary task through the limited schedules of his people. One person cannot do it all, but God can do it all through all of his people maximizing their schedules for his glory.
Here’s a quick story of how God is beginning to show me this. Remember that gas station I was at where I sensed God was working but I had some other work to do too? Well, I went to that gas station yesterday and met a new hire working the cash register. This new employee happened to be a lady that we began discipling a year ago. And now guess who has the opportunity to reach the ladies who work there? Not me. But the lady I have been able to help disciple. Oh God, would you continue to multiply our time through the laborers you raise up!
Suggestion: As we think about maximizing our schedules and multiplying other laborers, to leverage every part of our day for God’s mission and glory, we might think about Paul who used his time wisely when he was working a job while on mission in Ephesus (Acts 20:35). It’s likely that Paul took advantage of the cultural mid-day break of the Roman siesta. Paul probably took this time to intentionally train and disciple others. So we might think about our own culture. In my region, people usually wake up early or go to bed late, and have the weekends off. So one of the best ways to maximize my schedule is by meeting with people early in the morning before work and on the weekends. I usually start my work day at 9 am. This allows me to have a morning slot at 7 am each day to meet with people I am engaging or discipling. I also have blocked off specific times in my weekend to train and disciple others.
There are some great benefits to working as a missionary with a job. But on the flip side of that, there are some challenges. Two of the biggest barriers that I have found are a fear of man in my heart and a lack of time in my schedule. God is teaching me to look to Jesus and to pray for boldness as I seek opportunities to share at work. When I do that, he opens up opportunities for me to disciple people I work with or others in the community. But I am limited in how much I can do because of the busyness of my business. And that's ok. As I maximize my schedule by meeting with people in the morning before work and on the weekends, I pray that He would multiply laborers who are also seeking to leverage their time for his glory until there's no place left.
I want to hear from you. Write in the comments below if you have similar stories, or scriptures that you turn to, or suggestions you have to help us break through some of these barriers for the sentrepreneur and marketplace missionary.