I will continue today in what I have written about Andrew Murray’s Humility: The Journey Toward Holiness (Bethany House Publishers, Minneapolis, MN 2001).
Pride will creep in anywhere. There is no place too sacred where pride cannot be found. As we seek humility, we have to be more aware of when pride comes. We don’t need to become complacent about seeking humility and guarding against pride. A sure sign of pride starting to work back into your life is how you speak to others or about others. (61-62)
Too many churches, Christians, and mission trips have been torpedoed by a lack of humility. When we do not consider others better than ourselves, conflict will arise and God’s work will be thwarted. It is easy to do when you are preparing for a mission trip, especially if it is a trip to a place where you have gone before as a group. (63)
When I was in college, our campus ministry took mission trips to inner city Atlanta. The first year, we prepared and prayed before the trip. God moved through our group and did amazing work. We were the hands and feet of Christ and destroyed some kudzu too. There was never another year like that first year.
Because of such a successful first year, our campus ministry headed back to Atlanta for a second year. I guess it was because we knew what we would be doing and the people we would be seeing, that our preparation was not what it needed to be. The first year we didn’t have any plans, but prayed for God to work in our lives and in the lives of those we were serving. The second year, we had plans and when they fell through, you could tell we hadn’t really prayed for a Christlike attitude. People got on each other’s nerves, there were people who avoided others in the group, and I could all feel that we were getting in the way of what God wanted to do.
I never forgot that mission trip. It was one where I feel like we really failed. Pride made us feel comfortable with what we are doing for God. Even though we never said it out loud, our actions said that preparing one time was enough, God will come through again even if we don’t invite Him in the process. Because we were confident and not praying in humility to be servants of Christ, we missed out on being the vessel God worked through. We were able to bless the mission we were working with at that time, but it was very evident that we missed the mark: especially on the 16 hour drive back home.
Because of that mission trip, every other mission trip I have been a part of since has been bathed in prayer and soaked in scripture. I never want to be a filled with pride and a part of the problem. As I have met with others who were going on mission trips, I have encouraged them to seek out God’s heart and humbly pray in preparation for the trip. Then I turn and pray for my own heart, so that I can be the humble servant of God.
On a side note, our campus ministry ended up making the trip to do mission work in Atlanta for five years. Those years of ministering along side an amazing organization (SOAR: Serving Others and Rejoicing) created friendships we still have eighteen years later. It created a soft spot in my heart for Atlanta. Little did I know at that time, that God was preparing me to make many more trips to come to that city in the future. My best friend lives in Atlanta and that makes it worth driving that trip every other year to be near to her and her family. Also, the ministry we connected with in college is still there and those two ladies running it are people we treasure. We never miss a chance to meet with them and see how God is still using them all these years later (http://www.soarministries.org/).