The PIC Approach – Am I Doing What I’m Supposed to?
Our daughter, Rachel, now married and with a child of her own has a unique perspective on how the PIC Approach has influenced her life. We thought it would be valuable for her to share how she has wrestled with and internalized God’s truths for her life. She writes and edits for us frequently. Now in her own words…
How many of us have felt bad around someone who is so passionate about something, that they think everyone else should be passionate about it too? How many of us have sat under teaching about how we need to approach and address everything that is wrong with the world in a particular way? If only you prayed for people more. If only you voted in a particular way or went to that political march. If only you gave money every time it was asked of you. If only you built a relationship with every person you came across and spoke into the depths of their soul.
I don’t know about you, but I can’t be all of those things to all of those people. Especially when I am also the mother of a toddler trying to live my own story and love my girl and my husband well.
As we have been talking about the PIC approach in these last few blogs it is easy to get bogged down in the categorizations of principles, instructions, and convictions. It can be a beautiful new world and it can also be hard to separate each of the concepts when we are gathering information.
One of my biggest struggles is between helpful instructions and personal convictions. Growing up in the Christian world, I found myself bombarded with personal convictions and instructions as I was trying to find my way with the Lord. I remember thinking I wasn’t making enough of a difference at thirteen because a nine-year-old had written a book about Jesus and was lifted up as the example for what we should all have been doing. I was thirteen. I was behind. It sounds ridiculous to me now, to expect that I would change the world by a certain age, or even at all, but I truly believed I was expected to be used in a profound way to be loved by God.
Though there are some things we are all called to incorporate into our lives, there is a great deal of room for individuality in how they are expressed.
For me, the PIC approach was freeing because I suddenly had space to figure out what the Lord was asking and requiring of me. I no longer needed to hold everyone else's expectations of what I “should” be. How many of us feel like we are constantly missing the mark because we can’t live up to the expectations of what a Christian, a wife, a husband, a mother, a father, a child ought to be? It is exhausting. Sometimes it is nice to say, "I don’t have to hold that, but I am so glad that it is important to you and that the Lord has created that conviction in you."
In first Corinthians 12 we see clearly that the Lord gives different gifts and different parts to play in the body. In Psalm 139:13-16 we are told that each of us is created specifically and uniquely. Our days and purposes are ordered by the Lord. Though there are some things we are all called to incorporate into our lives, there is a great deal of room for individuality in how they are expressed.
At a young age, the Lord began to put certain groups of people on my heart. At thirteen I was deeply moved by the work of those who were trying to end human trafficking. Over the years I was continually drawn to working with street kids and homeless individuals. Listening to their stories changed my life. I loved getting to do life alongside these individuals and discovering what they needed and desired.
My love for these people and these issues thrust me into the social justice world. I found myself stuck between two worlds. On one side was the world's view of social justice and how it should be implemented. On the other side were many Christians who believed that social justice was a worldly concept that needed to be avoided.
So, I went to seminary and studied Justice and Missions and I wrestled. I wrestled with God’s heart for justice, what it looked like, who He calls to fight for justice and in what way. I wrestled with fellow followers of Jesus and their belief about how I should approach justice. I wrestled with my understanding of who I was and who God was asking me to be.
Unfortunately, the justice world is full of personal convictions from Christians and non-Christians alike. How do I decide which personal conviction is right? I remember being told that everyone who cares about justice should take a specific class to understand the political fight for justice. The problem was, I knew the political realm was not going to be my fight. That was incredibly disappointing to people in my field.
Values Shape Convictions
I tell you my story to say this, our values shape our convictions. I cared deeply for God’s heart. I cared deeply for his people. I cared deeply for justice and people being treated rightly. I also cared deeply about one-on-one, deep relationships. I truly valued the people who stuck through the difficult times with me and helped me to be a better person. All these values shaped my desire to help others who needed what I could offer.
I remember being told over the years from teachers, pastors, or speakers that I needed to approach this world of justice in a particular way. For those who are immersed in the social justice movements, it can be an emotionally charged subject and common to pressure others to believe and live the same way you do. For me, I frequently felt that if I was going to care about one thing, I needed to care about all of it. That caused unneeded frustration and confusion. What if the teaching had been presented as a helpful instruction instead of a universal truth that everyone needed to apply? Then I could have more quickly and easily sought the Spirit to shape my own personal convictions in this world of justice.
What if the values God placed in your heart are there to help form the personal convictions that are just right for you? Would you feel released?
So I come back to a place of values. What if there is freedom in the way that God made you and the story He is writing through your life? What if you took the time to listen to what the Spirit is asking you to be “all in” with and let go of the pressure to hold the rest? What if the values God placed in your heart are there to help form the personal convictions that are just right for you? Would you feel released?
I obviously care about a great many things and have seen and experienced a tremendous amount of pain and suffering in the 20 some countries I have visited. However, I knew I couldn’t hold the weight of each of those needs or stories. I went to a friend and mentor in the mission field and asked how she was able to hold the pain and fight for a particular group of people. Whenever I tried to get involved in that world, I just cried a lot and didn’t do much good at all. My heart was broken but I couldn’t fight for them. She told me something that changed my life and my perspective; “When you find the thing that breaks your heart but also makes you angry enough to move, then you will be able to fight for something.” Wow. That was so powerful to me. Obviously, this was a helpful instruction and not something that everyone needs to follow but in my world it unlocked a freedom to not fight every battle. Especially if it wasn’t a battle the Lord had given me to fight.
As I began entering the world of justice and sharing all the topics I was learning about with my mom (Lea Carawan), I remember her sharing that she loved that I was learning about all these things, but she couldn’t hold all of these issues. The Lord had clearly given her a heart for married women to find freedom and beauty in their homes and lives by aligning with God’s word. It would have been so easy for her to feel guilty about not engaging in every topic I was sharing with her. But I am so glad that the Lord put this ministry and this need on her heart because she is uniquely able to speak into the hearts of these men and women due to the story God is writing in her life. How sad would it have been if I told her that her heart for women was misplaced and she needed to fight for these other big ticket justice issues that I cared about. How many women would have missed out on what the Lord had shown my mom because mine was a worthier cause?
My prayer for those reading this - whether you are a coach or a participant or just stumbling upon this blog - is that you feel the freedom to allow the Spirit to shape your values and convictions and that you allow the Spirit to do that work for others as well.
This is the 5th blog in the PIC Approach Series. Read all 5 here