Culture and call, community and communion. All arenas of life, sub-plots in the story God is writing in us. All are arenas of critical importance for us, since it is in respect to these that our choices in response to God’s initiative determine how God shapes our hearts. The final two arenas:
Arena 5: Conflict – Conflict is guaranteed in leadership (it may be personal, relational, demonic, or organizational). Criticism is also part of the package. This is no less the case for preachers. How do you engage with the inevitable conflicts that come your way? These are not distractions from your growth as a leader, these are key moments in shaping your heart for leadership. (Again consider how Moses was shaped by conflict in Egypt, and criticism in the wilderness. Or think of David versus Saul, and versus Absalom. And Paul faced challenges from the church as a new convert, conflict with Barnabas, persecution from Jews and opposition within the church regarding his apostleship.)
Arena 6: Commonplace – In the ordinary mundane things of life you are being shaped. The normal routine, when no-one is watching, when you are “plugging away” in your role, in your relationships. To be shaped well: look for God in these times, keep learning, say yes to God (obey in the small stuff), stay grateful. We can sometimes rush toward the exciting end of ministry, but remember how God shapes us in these low-key times. For Moses it was decades in the desert, for David there were the years on the run, for Paul there was obscurity for the first years, and so much more. For us, perhaps we have wilderness seasons, but also the repetitious routine of time in the study.
It all counts, as long as we choose to respond well. God uses every element of life to shape us as preachers, as leaders, as men and women after His own heart.