Do I still have untapped potential?

This post was written by Elaine Loewen, a SEND missionary in Japan.   Elaine and her husband Joel have served in Japan since 1986 in church planting and discipleship ministries.  Elaine is also the language school coordinator for SEND in Japan.  I am thankful for Elaine’s transparency as she shares how God has renewed her passion after many years of ministry.

Last summer I felt in a slump–a general lack of passion for ministry. While at the Yamanaka Chalet, I read the book, “Leading on Empty: Refilling Your Tank and Renewing Your Passion” by Pastor Wayne Cordeiro. It’s his story of how, when he found himself depleted after about 30 years of ministry, he took time to recharge and refocus on what is truly important. Towards the very end of the book, he talks about potential. We usually associate potential with young people. We think of them with their life ahead, their gifts and talents, lots of opportunities, and we look forward to how God will use them. They have potential!

But this isn’t the group Pastor Wayne is talking about. In his book, he’s referring to people who have been in ministry a long time. Maybe they feel depleted. Maybe they need to take time to refocus. Maybe it’s time for them to make some changes. At any rate, he challenges this group of people to rediscover their potential.

Elaine and Joel LoewenThis was a revolutionary thought to me! I had not thought that at this stage of life, perhaps I still had untapped potential! This was exciting, and I believed that God was preparing me to receive something that he was going to show me.

Throughout the fall, there were a few times when I wondered, is this the “new thing” that God has for me? But by and large, things didn’t change a whole lot. During these months, I reflected a lot on this past term. I thought about some of the ministries I no longer had. Sometimes I got pretty discouraged. I began to question my effectiveness, my usefulness, and the ability to continue to make positive contributions. I began to think that I had read too much into the whole thing about potential! This focus on myself kept me from seeing God’s blessings and what he was doing.


If this were a TV drama series, this is where we would cut it. This would be the end of the episode, in order to just stay here for a little while. So often we move quickly to how God rescued us, to his faithfulness in providing a way out. I do not minimize that! He is faithful, and he does rescue us. But when we’re in a difficult time, the pain is real, and I don’t want to minimize that either. Those times are hard, but they aren’t wasted.

One of the things God taught me last fall was the importance of continually returning to him. My pain and discouragement were opportunities to hold on to who he is and to express my faith in him. I still wondered how he was going to use me, but gradually I was able to release that and leave it up to him. In fact, he reminded me of something I had written in my journal many months earlier! It was this, “ ‘Here I am God. Use anything.’ God decides if, how, and when He will use my gifts. By saying this, I’m not focusing on just one area, or one question, but I’m giving God permission, so to speak, to give me a broader vision, to change me in greater ways. I make myself available to be surprised by God!”

Then, we had the Japan Council vision retreat (in December last year) at which time we experienced God’s leading, unity, and what we believe to be the direction to fulfilling his vision for us in greater ways. What I was experiencing personally prepared me for what God would do in us corporately.

God has restored my passion. He hasn’t answered all my questions yet, but I commit myself to once again seek him, and to demonstrate faith that honors him. And, in some ways this takes me back to where I was last fall–waiting on him and trusting him especially when his ways and his blessings don’t look the way I expect them to.

“Blessings” by Laura Story

We pray for blessings, we pray for peace
Comfort for family, protection while we sleep
We pray for healing, for prosperity
We pray for Your mighty hand to ease our suffering
And all the while, You hear each spoken need
Yet love us way too much to give us lesser things

‘Cause what if your blessings come through rain drops
What if Your healing comes through tears
What if a thousand sleepless nights are what it takes to know You’re near
What if trials of this life are Your mercies in disguise

We pray for wisdom, Your voice to hear
We cry in anger when we cannot feel You near
We doubt your goodness, we doubt your love
As if every promise from Your word is not enough
And all the while, You hear each desperate plea
And long that we’d have faith to believe

‘Cause what if your blessings come through rain drops
What if Your healing comes through tears
What if a thousand sleepless nights are what it takes to know You’re near
What if trials of this life are Your mercies in disguise

When friends betray us
When darkness seems to win
We know that pain reminds this heart
That this is not,
This is not our home
It’s not our home

‘Cause what if your blessings come through rain drops
What if Your healing comes through tears
What if a thousand sleepless nights are what it takes to know You’re near

What if my greatest disappointments or the aching of this life
Is the revealing of a greater thirst this world can’t satisfy
What if trials of this life
The rain, the storms, the hardest nights
Are your mercies in disguise

Advertisements

2 thoughts on “Do I still have untapped potential?

  1. Wow, Elaine. You summed up MY life, not just yours. I am challenged and encouraged by your experience, and your clean and simple way of viewing life. I'm waiting for God to restore my passion currently. I'm also waiting for him to provide healing and health along the way. But until that day, I am going to say AMEN by adding to your sentence:
    My pain and discouragement (and health and weakness and exhaustion and . . . . . ARE) were opportunities to hold on to who he is and to express my faith in him.

    Like

  2. Jacob, a long time ago, I heard someone say, “Don't define God by your circumstances.” That has stayed with me, and I often think of it when I'm in a difficult situation. Keep holding onto God because he has not left you or forsaken you!

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s