The Habit of Personal Disruption

Macedonian Ministry welcomes pastors from throughout our program and broadening network to contribute to our weekly articles. This week, our thanks to Rev. Jim Truesdell, for his reflection. 

After nearly 20 years of pastoral ministry in Presbyterian churches, God issued a disruptive call. Away from the institution and into the world. This reflection is not about the specifics of that call but how God helped me cultivate habits of personal disruption, so I could embrace God’s disruptions with faith.

When Jesus called his disciples, He said to them, take no bag, no extra tunic, or extra sandals for your feet. He disrupted their comfort and convenience, teaching them to rely on others and be open to God’s provision in unlikely places. In that same spirit…I emptied my closest: one suit, one jacket, two pants, 5 shirts. The rest went in garbage bags to the attic. It had an amazing impact on decluttering my ministry. What if I only put in my bag what Jesus told me to put in my bag? It’s astounding the stuff we carry around that Jesus never wanted us to tote in the first place.

Jesus uses physical disruptions as he makes disciples. Those intentional physical disruptions create openness and capacity for the Holy Spirit’s ongoing work. I intentionally set out for different places in our city. I live with the discomfort of being a stranger. Stumble around. Look clueless. Ask for help. Be inefficient. Chat up a stranger. What I’ve discovered in this process is the joy of discovery and the pleasure of paying attention. When everything is familiar, you can go on auto pilot. I can shop for a whole week in our regular Aldi in less than 25 minutes and blow by a hundred souls with efficiency. One block away is the Chinese Super market and the adventure of being in a different place. It makes you stay sharp and be creative.

“Were not our hearts burning within us while we were walking on the road.” Prayer walking is a critical habit in the disciple making process. Jesus taught disciples on the way. He taught crowds while they sat, but discipled people as they walked.

I’ll never forget prayer walking with a partner on the morning after a UPS employee shot and killed three people in the UPS sort facility. We saw a UPS driver and asked if we could pray for him and his friends. The Holy Spirit uses prayer walking to deepen our intercession and make our blessings more accessible to people who need to be blessed. It’s amazing how the Spirit teaches you to pray when you’re on the way.

There are other physical habits Jesus uses as he makes disciples who embrace the disruptive work of God. Solitude. Fasting. Feasting. Giving. Watch for them as you read scripture but intentionally imitate these physical disruptions in your life and as you walk closely with people.

A simple but effective disciple maker told me, “If you want to see the Spirit work, you gotta do the stuff.” Clumsy wording but true. Disrupt your life with the physical things Jesus did and you’ll see some amazing life-giving disruptions in people’s lives, including your own.

Rev. Jim Truesdell, Macedonian Ministry Cohort Member, Birmingham 2

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