Paul wrote this word of encouragement in a letter to the Philippians around 64 A.D. The church contributed to his support while he was starting the church in Thessalonica. He did not ask them for help; he supported himself by working, in addition to building churches and teaching the new believers.
Any new ministry or program takes time to develop; in the beginning, a need is identified, and a plan of action is formed in the heart and mind of an individual to meet the need. We usually call this vision. Then there’s a time frame , in which soil is prepared, and seeds are sown. In practical terms, this is when we research the where, when and how of the vision. We look at sites, consider whether to rent or own, assess needed equipment and supplies, and how we’re going to pay for those items. And here is where it all falls apart, because in finding resources, we have to put our dreams on the table and let others sift our motives and intent. This part can be humiliating. Visions and dreams hidden in our heart may help us weather a storm, but they don’t change the world.
For years, I have had a dream of a faith-based counseling center located in Syracuse, where people can come and find hope, help and healing. In the beginning, there was no structure to this vision, and the only thing that kept coming to me in the initial period after my divorce was “first establish your work in the field, and then build your house”. Which for me meant get a degree, get qualified, learn my field of ministry, and whatever is required for me to have access to needed resources. It also, in very practical terms, meant pay off any outstanding debt, and repair the ravages of my credit history after the divorce. (Still working on this ; it will take a while, as we lost everything.) Over time, a plan of action unfolded, which included services to be provided, and programs to be implemented. Accessibility is key, because transportation is a problem for many in this city. Focus on biblical solutions to common mental health problems, such as depression, anxiety, traumatic stress and other issues will be a priority. Families, as the ‘secondary client’ will also be served, as many of our problems are relational in nature.
So, where do I start? Wherever God provides a place. And we’ll go from there.
“[Put first things first.] Prepare your work outside and get it ready for yourself in the field; and afterward build your house and establish a home.” (Proverbs 24:27, Amplified)