“And having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace..”
My answer: Everything…
Allow me to explain, a few years ago I had the wonderful privilege of serving in a college ministry. and our leaders asked us to be one thing: FAT.
They especially reminded us of our FAT leadership when it came to mission trips, anything and everything could happen, and for that reason they asked us to be flexible (be ready for any changes on the schedule, projects, housing, meals, etc). Be available (always be willing to serve wherever a need arose, and just keep a helpful mindset). And be teachable, (there is always an opportunity to learn something new, never miss a moment where God may be trying to teach us something about His character or ourselves).
Pretty basic and easy principles, right?
You see what I have learned is that it is very easy to uphold these values when you are in a place of leadership. For one, the community around you offers a type of culture that facilitates to live out the Christian life by strengthening our faith through accountability and friendship. Two, when you are on a mission trip, your mindset is that of a missionary, you are more aware of your service and leadership while working towards a common goal. But what happens when the spotlight is no longer on you? What happens when you are no longer being called a leader? What happens when your environment changes?
For many years, I thought I had this FAT-ness down. You see I worked at the same place I worked through my college leadership years. I was known for serving in the church, for going to church, and for leading other college students. Perhaps that’s why I kept reminding myself to be Flexible, Available, and Teachable at my job. But a few months ago, the tides changed. I was presented with a great opportunity, and took a position at a different company. Like any aspiring young adult, I was determined to go above and beyond my employers expectations. And for the first few months, I thought I was “Rock and Rolling” at this job. Although, I found myself consistently frustrated; I always managed to complete every task. But as the days went by I found myself more and more agitated at this job, and I could not understand why? And so, I began to compare my past with my present. I realized that my other job offered routine, and this new job tended to vary every day. Although, we had a schedule, circumstances beyond one’s control tended to create many adjustments throughout the day, and I had a hard time adapting to the change. One day, I finally cried out to God in my frustration, and as I vented my situation I heard a gentle whisper, “What if it’s not about them, but it’s about you? What if there are things I am trying to show you, to work through, and to teach you?”. And in that moment, I froze. I realized that I had become the one pointing at the speck in another’s eye, before removing the log in my own eye (Matthew 7:4). I realized that I had forgotten my FAT leadership, and that I had allowed my frustrations to get the best of me. I realized that I had forgotten the most important thing: to be a strong witness of the One True King. In the midst of the excitement of my new job, I became more task oriented than people oriented. I focused more on completing my assignments, and forgot that my interaction with other employees mattered more than finishing a memo or remitting payment for an invoice. My response to employee requests were opportunities to reflect the story of Christ, and His power in my life, and I had failed to represent him well by allowing frustrations and short answers become greater than the fruit of the Spirit. Ephesians 6: 14 states:
“Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God”.
This is the passage that describes the armor of God, and as my mind lingered over these words I realized that I had gone to battle without “having shod my feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace”. Other translations call it, “the sandals of readiness”. And one cannot be ready for battle or stand their ground, if they have forgotten one article of their armor.
What I learned that day, is that it is very easy to uphold Biblical principles when we are under leadership of another. But once that title is removed and the accountability is gone, and the environment is different it’s easier to fall back into old habits. What is important is to remember that as Christians we are leaders, whether it is publicly acknowledged or not, we are living testimonies of the One True God. 1 Peter 3:15 reminds us “but in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect..”.
-Always be ready.
I had forgotten that part, to always be ready. to go left or go right. To be flexible with the many changes that may take place throughout the day. But that is the beauty of our faith, that even when we forget God is always there reminding us and teaching us, just as he reminded me of my “sandals of readiness”.
As always, thank you for visiting dear reader, and remember you are generously loved by the One True God.
Strength and blessings!