Where Is Our Focus?

“You, Lord, keep my lamp burning; my God turns my darkness to light. With your help I can advance against a troop. With my God I can scale a wall.”

--Psalm 18.28-29

And just like that, it’s May! It’s been far too long since you’ve heard from us in Uganda!

 The past few years part of my morning reading has been studying a daily devotional from the Psalms by Tim Keller – The Songs of Jesus. HIGHLY recommended, by the way. Anyways, the verse above has really been working on me – and our team over the past few weeks.

Growth poses new challenges. Instead of mentoring and leading everyone at Hope Smiles Uganda one on one, the size of our team means our more experienced team members now have new team members THEY are responsible for developing. Because that’s what we do here at Hope Smiles – we don’t just provide quality, compassionate dentistry…we awaken hearts and develop PEOPLE to lead well.

 As anyone who has lead anything can attest, installing another layer of leadership within your team can be EXTREMELY challenging. Frustration abounds. The temptation is to step in and address everything yourself.

 And that would be wrong.

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Anyways, installing this next layer of leadership within our team has allowed us to really live these verses from Psalm 18. Our leaders here in Uganda are stepping into this position for the first time. And they are experiencing a lot of frustration – so I am too!

 Too often in leadership we can go on and on about how hard it is.

 But EVERYTHING gets harder when we go on and on about how hard it is.

 As we experience growth here at Hope Smiles, we continually need to become reacquainted with the fact that God did not make us to be satisfied with Earthly comforts. He HAS made us to know Him and learn what it means to love HIM and others on this journey.

 I’m saying this because once we experience a certain level of success we can get comfortable.

 And comfort is not the point of our journey here on Earth. We certainly should enjoy the gifts God gives us here on Earth and praise Him for them.

 But what we are developing here at Hope Smiles is a culture that enjoys our successes while not getting complacent. We enjoy this journey here on Earth while continually exploring what it means to act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with God. THIS WILL BE HARD. IT WILL BE UNCOMFORTABLE. This is the norm.

 Where we (and by we, I mean I…haha) get in trouble is focusing on the discomfort instead of God, who will make us strong to navigate it. I’ve found this to be true. We have LOTS of work here, and too often I focus on the amount of work we have to do and how hard it is, which leads me to feel overwhelmed.

 But here is a better way.

 In the midst of the struggle and the pain that is inevitable on any sacrificial journey, we need to look to God for our daily strength. It is God who arms me with strength and makes my way secure (Psalm 18.32).

Strength comes from God, not my ingenuity or brilliance. Going on and on about how hard my life is makes life about me. This leads to ruin. Too often I’ve fallen into this trap.

 The antidote is focusing on God, and He gives me strength for today.

 That’s enough.

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Ryan Shinska