Jesus’ Member-Care Plan
At a conference, this question was asked: “According to the gospels, what were Jesus’ ‘member-care practices’?” What a creative, unique question! We searched through the Gospels and found a wealth of illustrations of Jesus’ care for Himself and others. A few examples…
Solitude and prayer are crucial (Mark 1:35).
Follow the Spirit’s leading (Matthew 4:1).
Know when to work and when to rest (Matthew 14:13-14).
Community is essential (Mark 3:13-15).
Please God – don’t minister from a place of needing “kudos” from people (John 8:29).
Trust God in the midst of injustice, and forgive (1 Peter 2:23; Luke 23:32-34).
Focus on others when suffering (John 19:25-27).
Learn to grieve losses as they occur (John 11:33-35).
Fight the attacks of the enemy (Matthew 4:10-11).
Prepare your disciples/children for change (Mark 8:31).
Entrust your loved ones into God’s care (John 17:8-18).
Exercise (walked everywhere), enjoy children, and sing (Matthew 4:18a; 19:13-14; 26:30).
These principles are Member Care #101. Surely we global workers apply these truths to our lives, do we not? Well, our goal is to pray, delight in God, be led by the Spirit, rest our souls, engage in community, trust God, forgive, grieve losses, and send Satan away.
However, we do not always do it. Every global worker is almost certainly aware of the principles of rest, solitude, prayer, trust, community, and forgiveness—but uin the craziness called our lives. These “member-care” principles point us back to our source of strength—God.
Jesus is our ultimate model of how to live. He was intentional in His life choices, giving us an example of practices that we actually need to heed every day. If followed, they will bring health and well-being.
Jesus prayed for a long time before making big decisions. Luke 6:12-13 says, Jesus went out to a mountainside and spent the night praying. When morning came, He chose (the) twelve…. I find it fascinating that Jesus, who knew from the beginning of time who His disciples would be, chose to pray all night before selecting the twelve. Why? At least one reason is that He was setting an example for us.
Jesus knew the importance of solitude and invited others to join Him. In Mark 6:31 we read, He said (to His disciples), “Come with Me…to a quiet place and get some rest.” Reading this declaration, I can envision a few village global workers thinking, Have you ever lived in a village? Have you walked in my sandals? Where do you expect me to go? Some ideas:
- Husbands, give your wives an hour a day of alone time. Wives, reciprocate.
- Explain to the nationals that you are following the tradition of “family time” after lunch. Be sure to instruct your guard/maid to politely refuse company during that time.
- Get away as often as you can (beach, retreat home, mountain, closest major city, friend’s house, etc.) to spend time with God.
- Pray for creative ways to follow Jesus’ example despite all the people begging for your attention 24/7.
Jesus worked hard but knew when to rest. In one day, Jesus spoke to the crowds; He healed a leper, the centurion’s servant, Peter’s mother-in-law, and all the sick; and He drove out many demons. Then He rested (Matthew 8). Work theories abound:
- “Let’s all burn out for Jesus!”
- Both husband and wife (or single) are never “off the clock.” When needs arise, one must respond.
- One family vacation and two marital weekends per year are essential for health.
- M-W-F from 9 AM-2 PM is my work week.
- Work? I do not really believe in “doing” but rather in just “being” with God all the time.
Jesus had that perfect balance between work and rest. Furthermore, Jesus’ real source of strength for each day was His personal relationship with His Father. Psalm 62:1-2 says, My soul finds rest in God alone…I will never be shaken. This is where each global worker needs to find his or her ultimate strength. We all know this stuff—we just have a hard time doing it.
Jesus believed community is essential. Mark 3:13-15 says, Jesus appointed twelve that they might be with Him. M. Scott Peck wrote the following principles:
- Communicate with one another honestly (Proverbs 12:22).
- Commit to rejoice and mourn together (Romans 12:15).
- Commit to make others’ conditions your own (Galatians 6:2).
On the field, it is vital to experience life with the friendship of other believers. We were not created to walk alone (Genesis 2). Jesus continued to offer and ask for fellowship even with imperfect disciples. Why? Community is essential.
Jesus trusted God in the midst of injustice. In 1 Peter 2:23 we read that When they hurled their insults at Him, He did not retaliate…instead, He entrusted Himself to Him who judges justly. 2 Timothy 2:10 says that Enduring everything for the sake of the elect that they may obtain salvation is a fight. It takes commitment, intentionality, abiding, and the power of God to stay focused on what is important: knowing/trusting God and making Him known.
Jesus forgave. Luke 23:34a says, Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” One of Satan’s meanest distractions is to hurt the global worker through a friend. In Psalm 55:12-14 we read, If an enemy were insulting me, I could endure it…but it is you, my close friend, with whom I once enjoyed sweet fellowship. It is only through God’s power that we can (in the midst of feeling the deep pain) continue to move toward the high calling we have been given by God. Forgiving is what sets Christianity apart from every single other “religion”—we love because He first loved us.
Lewis Smedes, in The Art of Forgiving, wrote, “Suppose you never forgive, suppose you feel the hurt each time your memory lights on the people who did you wrong. And suppose you have a compulsion to think of them constantly. You are locked into a torture chamber of your own making. The only way to heal the pain is to forgive the person who hurt you. Forgiving stops the reruns of pain… When you release the wrongdoer, you cut a malignant tumor out of your inner life. You set a prisoner free, but you discover that the real prisoner was yourself.”
Jesus allowed himself to grieve. John 11:33-35 tells us, When Jesus saw her weeping…He was deeply moved…(and) Jesus wept. What was that all about? Jesus knew He was about to raise Lazarus from the dead. One would think that He would be secretly excited that He was about to give His dear friends one of the best surprises of their lives. Why the tears? Maybe He was “in the moment” and simply felt their pain. Perhaps He thought about the grief they would experience after He was crucified. The point is, He grieved. If Jesus grieved, then so may we. Perhaps it is even healthy! So have a good cry when life hurts—do not let grief accumulate.
Jesus recognized Satan’s lies and told him to leave. In Matthew 4:10 we are told, Jesus said to him, “Away from Me, Satan!” In the midst of trouble, heartache, loneliness, conflict, anxiety, temptation, and trauma, Satan’s favorite tactic is to whisper lies:
- God is weak. God does not care. God has abandoned you.
Now to Him Who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen. (Ephesians 3:20-21)
Your love, O LORD, reaches to the heavens, Your faithfulness to the skies. Your righteousness is like the mighty mountains, Your justice like the great deep. O LORD, you preserve both man and beast. How priceless is Your unfailing love! Both high and low among men find refuge in the shadow of Your wings. They feast on the abundance of Your house; You give them drink from Your river of delights. For with You is the fountain of life; in Your light we see light. (Psalm 36:5-9)
The LORD Himself goes before you and will be with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. (Deuteronomy 31:8)
- You are to blame. You are a disappointment. You are worthless.
But if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, His Son, purifies us from all sin. (1 John 1:7)
But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of Him Who called you out of darkness into His wonderful light. (1 Peter 2:9)
- God is not just. You need to step in and fix this mess.
Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. (Colossians 3:12-13)
God is just: He will pay back trouble to those who trouble you and give relief to you who are troubled, and to us as well. This will happen when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven in blazing fire with His powerful angels. (2 Thessalonians 1:6-7)
Jesus’ life was an example to us in every possible way. His Member-Care Plan was both wise and extensive. If we heed His plan, it will lead to well-being and deep, abiding joy.
Question to consider: How do you apply these truths to your life?
About the author
Elisabeth Marie is married with three children. She served in Africa from 1997-2010 and SE Asia from 2010-2016. She is passionate about encouraging cross-cultural workers in various ways. First term: adjusting, mom/wife and office manager at an international school. Second term: started/managed a retreat home for overseas workers and facilitated Bible studies. Third term: started a salon for women serving cross-culturally (1 1/2 years) then moved to SE Asia and had a salon, facilitated studies, did a couple of "office" projects, provided hospitality for global servants and wrote a couple of books on member care. She greatly respects cross-cultural workers and desires to serve them in multiple ways (as God leads).View all articles by: Elisabeth Marie
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