What is “Missional?”

I know it seems obvious, but I’m a dad all the time now.

My daughter, Paytyn, was born five months ago. She is the most beautiful thing i have ever seen. And don’t get me wrong, I love being a dad. It’s just that there is an amazing realization that has begun to sink in: I’m a dad at all moments. No matter where i am. No matter what i’m doing. No matter what i thought my priorities were or should be at the time.

The truth is i have many roles and responsibilities in my life. Any given day i may be a counselor, friend, husband, co-worker, preacher, video game buddy, computer technician, event organizer, blogger, or marshmallow eating contest director. Such is the life of a youth pastor.

But no matter what particular role i am playing each day, father is the role that i am constantly and consistently. I can no longer put down that title or role for the day. Or even for the hour. I am always somebody’s dad, no matter what else i am to many other people.

When i’m changing diapers in between church services that i am the preacher for, i am reminded that my first role is not preacher, but dad. When i’m holding my infant daughter, bouncing her in my arms as i speak to my students, it is evident that i am always daddy. As i put down the xbox controller to cradle Paytyn as she wakes up, i realize that even in my leisure i am still a dad.

I am always somebody’s dad.

It’s funny isn’t it? We so often think that our life is separated into carefully designed fragments. Work time. Home time. Friend time. Church time. But, when you’re somebody’s dad, there is a very consistent reality through every slice of that pie. You are a daddy. Regardless of what time slice you think you should be in, you are always daddy.

It reminds me that the same is true in my relationship with God. Too often, i am lulled into thinking that my spiritual life is just another of the many slices of pie that make up my life. I participate in that slice for 1.5 hours on a Sunday, and move on to the next slice.

But what if God is desiring more than just a small slice of my life? What if God wanted to invade every moment? Every role? Every responsibility? What if God didn’t want my attendance at a church service so much as He wanted to be invited into attendance in the everyday moments of my life?

In the strange book of Hosea, God explains quite clearly what He longs for most from us as people. Hosea 6:6 says, “For i desire steadfast (or consistent) love and not sacrifice, the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings.” Or as Eugene Peterson has interpreted it, “I’m after love that lasts, not more religion. I want you to know God, not go to more prayer meetings.”

Maybe God is saying that there is very little difference between the sacred and the secular. In fact, maybe he is saying there isn’t any difference at all. He is your daddy during home time. During work time. During golf time. During any time.

The word “missional” has come to mean a lot of different things recently. It has become a popular word used by many Christians interested in being “cutting edge.” However, it isn’t really a new idea. It isn’t the newest fad in an often fad-driven church. It is an awareness of the great desire of God from the beginning.

Whatever else “Missional” means, it begins with the idea that the entire pie belongs to God, not just a single slice. It means we are approaching life with a holistic and unified mission: “to glorify God in every thing we do.” It means we are living with one identity in mind: we are always Somebody’s child.

Interestingly, “Daddy” is a title that God uses for Himself over and over again in the Bible. In the book of Hosea (particularly chapter 11), God refers to the people of God as His children. It seems that for God, whatever other role He may be involved in playing, the role of Father is always at the forefront. He is many things, but He is always “Daddy.”

And so, as i finish this blog, off to change another diaper, I know that from now on I will always be somebody’s daddy. But, even more fundamentally, in every moment i am always Somebody’s son as well.

May you find fulfillment in the wonder of your true identity. May you find that wherever you go, whatever you do, you are always the child of God. And most deeply, may you find yourself surrendering every moment of your existence to His great mission in your life.

Many others have chosen to write on the word “missional” today, click on these great blogs to read more:

Alan Hirsch
Alan Knox
Andrew Jones
Barb Peters
Bill Kinnon
Brad Brisco
Brad Grinnen
Brad Sargent
Brother Maynard
Bryan Riley
Chad Brooks
Chris Wignall
Cobus Van Wyngaard
Dave DeVries
David Best
David Fitch
David Wierzbicki
DoSi
Doug Jones
Duncan McFadzean
Erika Haub
Grace
Jamie Arpin-Ricci
Jeff McQuilkin
John Smulo
Jonathan Brink
JR Rozko
Kathy Escobar
Len Hjalmarson
Makeesha Fisher
Malcolm Lanham
Mark Berry
Mark Petersen
Mark Priddy
Michael Crane
Michael Stewart
Patrick Oden
Peggy Brown
Phil Wyman
Richard Pool
Rick Meigs
Rob Robinson
Ron Cole
Scott Marshall
Sonja Andrews
Stephen Shields
Steve Hayes
Tim Thompson
Thom Turner

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Rock-a-bye-baby

I don’t think that i have ever been this tired in my whole life.

Seriously.

Tania told me last night, “it’s like we are doing a youth all-nighter event, every single night.” And, i guess she is right. I mean, i had the expectation that things would be a little crazy in the beginning. I suppose i just didn’t totally realize how much effort and normal sleeping hours go into caring for a small human life. It really wears you out. Two nights in a row i got maybe one-hour of sleep each night. And since then it has been pretty sparse too.

But, as tired as i am, there are those moments at 3:00am just after Tania has fed Paytyn while i am rocking her to sleep that i look down and see her yawn and my heart melts. There are those moments when she starts fussing and crying and i pick her up and softly call her name and she settles right down, as if she just knows the sound of her dad’s voice. There was that time that she wouldn’t sleep and i held her and started swaying and singing a quiet david crowder song to her and she closed her eyes and fell asleep.

Moments that make sleep unnecessary, almost unwanted.

And it was in that last moment that i was reminded of a minor prophet in the Old Testament. Ok, possibly a little weird, but it seems i have been learning a lot about God and his relationship with me as i think about Paytyn and my relationship with her.

So anyway, in Zephaniah, God has this pecular thing that he tells His people. And what is most stark to me this morning is the context in which he says it. He says this strange thing right into the middle of what will be the darkest most painful moment of their history. A time of unsettling, crying, anguish.

What He says are the words of a dad to a child… “The LORD your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, He will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing.”

It’s as if God were Paytyn’s dad, He would take her in His arms as she cries, look over her, tell her He is there and that everything will be ok. And then He would look at her, even as she cries and strangely feel this love and delight and joy in who she is. And as she cries He, her Creator, would stoop over her and softly sing her to sleep.

I wonder how often i see God this way. I wonder how often God sees me all messed up. Crying for no reason. Not understanding why the diaper needs to be changed. Not understanding that the shirt sometimes needs to be changed even if i was comfortably asleep at the time. Not appreciating all the sleepless night and worn out hours spent taking care of every need.

And what if, in that moment that i am most oblivious and most upset, that God picks me up and rather than me singing david crowder songs to Him, he takes more delight in singing one of His songs over me.

“Quiet…Daddy is here….everything is going to be ok…rock a bye baby…”

How is it that i can love such a small thing that only sleeps, poops, eats and cries? Though she will, there is not even yet the capacity for Paytyn to yet reciprocate my love. And yet, as i sing over her during these sleepless nights, i find that i am falling in love and that it matters not whether she loves me back because i will always love her.

I think i’m starting to get how God feels about us. Either that or i’m just sleep deprived and delirious.