Six months ago I left the regular salary, the decent benefits, and the job security of a church staff position and exchanged it in for a whole different way of life. Currently, my family and I raise financial support for the role we/I play of church planter/missionary/missional architect.
The change has been a challenge so far. I am not used to constantly having to convince potential supporters that what we are doing is worth their investment. I don’t dislike casting vision to these might-be partners, in fact it like doing it. It’s a privilege to involve others in something that is unique and even pioneering, especially when it could have an impact on countless others.
The part that is difficult is getting people to understand is that the single greatest thing that their money provides for me toward what we are trying to accomplish is availability. Their support enables us to be available for impromptu conversations with neighbors. It allows me to work a part-time job that doesn’t come close to paying the bills, but is a great relationship builder. It allows Kelli and the kids to be regularly involved in a moms/kids play group. It allows us to be free for lunches to network, to get to know people better, and to have meet with others. It has allowed us to be available for hurting friends & family members, work shifts for people in need, and be ready to care for those that we share life with.
For those in our field, relational availability is vital.
It is hard for me at times not to feel guilty about this. Friends and family members entrust us with a share of their finances so that we can be available. I know it is an issue of pride for me to question the value of availability, but nevertheless it has caused to do some serious thinking about the concept and value of availability when it comes to relationships.
As I have poured over this question of availability, I have found myself valueing availability in all types of relationships I have – my wife (am I available to listen, to help, to care, to pursue, to romanticize, to share deepest secrets/fears/dreams?), my kids (am I available to play, to be there, to laugh, to teach them, to feed & change them?), my parents & family (am I available to talk, to share life, to respect, to enjoy, and to learn?), my friends, (am I available to talk to, to share frustrations with, to dream with, to cry with, to have a drink with?), my neighbors (am I available to help with yardwork, to listen to stories, to sense needs, to pray for them, to have dinner, to talk on the front porch?), my coworkers (am I available to listen, to laugh with, to complain with, to joke about, to work hard for, to fill in for?)
I think availability is a (maybe THE) key of any good relationship.
My hope is that you would share in this thought with me. What do you think about the concept of availability? Is it as important as I am making it, or am I missing the boat? How do you create space for relationship – thus being available?
I am excited to hear your thoughts and experiences!