By Dan Williams, Director of Spiritual Integration
A weekly series from HOPE’s director of spiritual integration
Last week, we looked at steps organizations can take to more effectively integrate discipleship into their work. This week, we’ll focus on individual practices for integrating discipleship into our personal lives.
As we’ve discussed, integrating discipleship means intentionally creating opportunities where hearts can be transformed and developing the means for that transformation to be expressed. So how do we apply this in our lives and work? In this post, I will offer three examples of how I have pursued these things in my own life.
- Develop a balanced information diet
In Daniel 1, we read about four young men who were being trained in a royal academy. These young men outperformed their peers in part because they ate differently. Rather than seeking nourishment from the bounty of the royal table, they held to a God-honoring diet.
In the information age, we are daily offered a banquet of research and expert advice on how to be more effective, successful, and influential in our jobs. As followers of Jesus, we need to develop God-honoring diets of our information consumption. In my case, it means I learn about international development from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, but I also learn from faith-based groups like the Chalmer’s Center. I learn about leadership from the Harvard Business Review, but I also learn from Christian organizations like LeaderSource.
What information sources are shaping the way you approach your work?
- Pursue community
At HOPE International, we define discipleship as the ways we encourage one another to grow as followers of Christ. We recognize that everyone, regardless of age, needs to grow as a follower of Jesus in every area of their lives, and we need a community to encourage us in that journey. In my case, that has included meeting regularly for lunch with a group of Christian co-workers and peers where we discuss challenges and pray for one another. It has included engaging in Christian networks like the Accord Network and the Christian Economic Development network, mutually encouraging one another in our work.
Who is walking with you as you look to have a faithful witness in your work?
- Create opportunities to share your story
The testimonies that God has given us are often the most effective witness we have, and we need to create intentional opportunities to share those stories. In the Old Testament law, God instituted symbolic feasts, creating opportunities for the people of Israel to share their story with those around them. I shared in an earlier post how during my time in Haiti I was in a terrible motorcycle accident involving a cow. God intervened that night, protecting me from greater harm and providing for my medical needs. Inspired by the Old Testament feasts, my wife and I host an annual dinner called “Steaksgiving.” We invite friends and neighbors, grill steaks (in honor of the fallen cow), and at the end of the night, I share the story of God’s faithfulness.
How are you creating opportunities to share your story with those around you?
While I pray that these examples are helpful, they may not be in your context—and that’s okay. My greater prayer is that we will be people who regularly wrestle with the question rather than getting hung up on any single answer.
Learn more about how discipleship is an integral part of HOPE’s approach to poverty alleviation! Read more.
Dan joined HOPE in 2011 and has served in a variety of roles, currently serving as director of spiritual integration. He studied international business at the University of South Carolina and served for 2 1/2 years as a missionary in Niger. He and his wife, Ashley, and daughter, Maelyn, live in Durham, NC, where they are active members of Christ Central Church.
Featured image: Two savings group members in Haiti
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