The Main Thing

By Jonah Easley

Awakening Church will turn 1 year old on September 30, 2019. We often reflect on all God has done within the past several months. In His faithfulness and our pursuit of Him, we are learning much during this first year of ministry in Bellevue, Wash.

This past month has been a whirlwind as summer has officially begun. We had our first funeral, first baby dedication, and a missions team from Englewood Baptist Church in Jackson, Tenn., came to serve with us at our first Backyard Bible Club. The team helped us accomplish much more than we could have on our own. Through the city of Bellevue, we connected with five different families that were unable to do various projects at their homes. The missions team joined in as we met the needs of these families in our community. The new relationships and no-strings-attached love we shared through these acts of service were such a blessing to us all. We are so thankful for all of our partners that join us in different ways to enable us to lay the foundation of Awakening Church.

Throughout this difficult first season, we have needed to be intentional about our daily priorities … keeping the main thing the main thing. Our to-do lists fill up so quickly and we can feel as if we are drowning. In the onslaught of things coming our way, it’s easy to lose focus on what’s most important. We have great intentions and then … life happens. We get busy. Our children need to be somewhere. Something unexpected happens. Our good intentions quickly fall away. We fall back into the life of a firefighter … putting out fires of the urgent needs all around us.

With that in mind, we’ve created a priority list to help keep the most important items first in your to-do list. No matter your calling or place of ministry, these priorities can and should be applied.

1. Don’t skip a day in the ministry of the Word.

Acts 6:4 – “But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word.” 

Have you ever been so thirsty that you could think of nothing else but getting your hands on a drink of water? This is what I often pray and encourage … that we would experience that same thirst for the Word and presence of God. When we become passionate about something, it naturally becomes a priority, but when we are indifferent, it becomes more like a chore. When I am thirsty, no one needs to convince me to get a drink. My thirst drives me to go and get one. Prioritizing God’s presence really has little to do with how busy we are; it has to do with how dependent we are. When we start to dry up spiritually, it’s usually so subtle, we don’t even notice. Be reminded of how incredible His grace truly is and how dependent we are on Him.

2. Pray for Wisdom.

James 1:5 – “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.”

Church planting, pastoring and shepherding requires wisdom that is not naturally within me. But I need it! While trying to navigate this life, I need the knowledge, discernment and resolve that only God can give. Time and time again, God reminds me that He never fails in achieving His intended goals. When I steer off course, it doesn’t take long for me to realize it. Praying for wisdom as a husband, father and pastor really is essential for me to lead in my calling. In Proverbs 16, we are reminded that “wisdom is better than gold.” I need a reminder of the value of wisdom.

3. Expect the Unexpected.

1 Corinthians 1:25 – “For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.” 

God doesn’t do things the way we think He should. He often works in unexpected ways, but always exceeds our expectations. I never dreamed that my life would have been through so many tough situations. In those moments, I find myself questioning God, His love and His grace. In pride, our questioning God’s desires and ways is saying we know better than He. As I reflect on this season of life … the struggles, disappointments, victories, faith and hope, I must remember that God is God, and I am not.

He doesn’t always do things the way we expect, but when it comes to God, we know to expect the unexpected. Faith in God doesn’t always make us safe, but it does make us secure. Because of His faithfulness and goodness, we can trust and obey without complete understanding.

4. See the Green Grass around Me.

Proverbs 27:23 – “Know well the condition of your flocks, and give attention to your herds.”

Early on in our ministry, it seemed as though we didn’t have what we needed to be effective. But one day God reminded me that the gifts were in the house. We just have to know our people well enough, and intentionally help them discover their giftedness. We already had what we needed.

I began to look at my church differently. I began to see how God had, in fact, given us everything we needed. There have been discouraging days where I couldn’t see what God was doing. But He reminded me that everything I need, I already have. It’s going to take lots of developing. It’s going to take bucket loads of grace. It’s going to take a lot of shepherding. But this is what we are called to do.

5. Keep an Outward Focus.

Matthew 28:19 – “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”

The goal of missions is that all nations would worship Jesus. The commission that’s been given to us calls us to “go” and “make disciples.” It’s been said that we don’t need a passport if we have a dining room table. We are called by God to be deployed in our normal everyday lives among the people in our own cities. Our outward focus is an intentional investing, real-life, day-by-day, on-purpose time with unbelievers and younger believers to help them grow into maturity. This includes modeling how to disciple others in the same way.

6. Take care of my family.

1 Timothy 3:5 – “For if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he care for God’s church?”

Every pastor says his wife and kids are more important than his job. We say things such as “My church can get another pastor, but my kids have only one dad; my wife has one husband.…” Yet this balance demands constant attention with hard lines. Our family is unique, which not only creates many challenges, but also great opportunities as we use those challenges for pathways of ministry.

I’m not going to sugar-coat it—church planting is really hard, but also really worth it. Our biggest struggles have helped us to create this list of daily priorities as we fight various internal and external battles. For all the burdens we carry, we experience far more blessings.

On a more personal level, the experience of church planting is increasingly strengthening my faith. I have to trust God in unprecedented ways and take my hands off of situations that, in my flesh, I want to manipulate. God meets me—and all of us—in the midst of our confusions and challenges. He truly gives us peace that surpasses all understanding.

Please pray for us—that we’d be bold, willing, joyful and expectant of what God will do in and through us. Thank you for committing to this journey with us for the glory of God in the Pacific Northwest and around the world.

Jonah Easley serves as Senior Pastor of Awakening Church in Bellevue, Wash. Follow him on Twitter @jonaheasley.

This article first appeared at https://jonaheasley.com/.

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