If you’ve ever bought or sold a property then you’re probably familiar with the three most important selling points of a home: “location, location, location.” The well-known adage from the real estate industry emphasizes a simple point–a good location is the best advantage for a favorable sale.
It turns out that geography also impacted the early church’s ability to spread the gospel. During Paul’s years of ministry, the city of Thessalonica was positioned to have great influence over the surrounding regions: “It was a powerful metropolis with easy access to the interior and the northern frontier by means of good roads, and it lay not far from Asia and other Roman provinces by way of the sea” (Beth Moore, Children of the Day p. 33-4 quoting Gene L. Green).
Once the Thessalonians heard the gospel from Paul and accepted Christ, they took their strategic placement for sharing the gospel seriously: “The Thesssalonians looked outward. These were not a rustic people who were occupied only with local concerns but a city of great influence in all spheres, not only the political and economic but also the religious. Therefore it comes as no surprise to hear that when the Thessalonians turned from their idols to the true and living God, they themselves became the ones who brought the gospel to Macedonia, Achaia, and everywhere (v.8)” (see previous reference).
Paul highlights how the Thessalonians looked outward: “The Lord’s message rang out from you not only in Macedonia and Achaia—your faith in God has become known everywhere” (1 Thessalonians 1:6). Because of their central location and their passion to share the gospel, everyone knew about the Thessalonians’ faith in the One True God.
The city of Thessalonica was located on premium real estate, but today being strategically placed has more to do with our perspectives than our physical locations. With Jesus in our lives, every place has the potential to become strategic for sharing the gospel. When we’re filled with the Spirit, our faith in God becomes “known everywhere.” Whatever situation we find ourselves in has the potential to be used to further God’s kingdom.
At times it may not be clear how the Lord is using us strategically, but if we continue to abide with Him, walk in obedience and pray for opportunities to be used, He will reveal His plan in time. Sometimes, our job is simply to position ourselves in a spot where God can use us and then to wait and see what He does.
When our kids were little, my husband and I made a deliberate choice to send them to public school. We wanted to be lights for Jesus among those who didn’t know Him. Our neighborhood school was a good one and seemed like the right fit for our boys. Over the nine years they attended their elementary school, I volunteered alongside teachers and parents in many different capacities. Time spent at the school provided opportunities to build trust and develop friendships. Sometimes, it also gave me chances to share my faith in Jesus.
Four of those elementary years were spent pouring myself into an after-school math program. I’d prayed about doing it and felt God was calling me to it, but sometimes questioned whether teaching math was really the best use of my time. It didn’t feel very spiritually significant to me. I didn’t realize how God was laying a foundation for future opportunities. Through my involvement there, I developed close relationships with several different parents who co-taught with me. One of those moms eventually came to Focused Living with me and later asked me to co-lead a smaller group study in her home. Another one of my previous co-teachers joined us and just began her second year with our group of ten women. (To read more about this story, see my blog “Being Open Handed is a State of Mind.”)
Now I see how God strategically placed me teaching math to fourth and fifth graders so that I could build those relationships and hone my teaching skills. The women in the home study are all there because God strategically placed them in my life or my co-leader’s life. We befriended them over the years through volunteering in classrooms, rooting for our kids on sports fields and crossing paths in our neighborhoods. Had it not been for that math class, I would not be experiencing the joy of pouring into them weekly as they learn from God’s word.
Strategic placement is about recognizing your proximity to others who need Christ’s love and then inviting God to use you in their lives. It takes time, patience and persistence. I continue to discover places where God has strategically placed me so that I can gain valuable experiences and bless others. Whether it is helping an elderly neighbor in distress, sharing lunch with a young mom in need of some adult conversation or providing encouragement to a struggling teen, any place in my life becomes strategic when I offer it up to God.
What areas in your life is God already using strategically? Maybe you’re not convinced your current “location” is a favorable one for Him to use. If that’s the case, pray and ask Him to open your eyes and show you where He wants to use you to further His kingdom. Here are a few ideas to consider:
-Within your home and extended family (spouse, kids, grandkids, nieces, nephews, parents, in-laws)
-In your neighborhood (maybe it’s time to reach out to that neighbor whose name you don’t know)
-Anywhere you volunteer (secular or Christian)
-In your homeschool co-op (these parents rarely get a moment to themselves to read God’s word and be encouraged!)
-In your Christian school (families at Christian schools need to be encouraged to grow deeper too)
-Groups you belong to (Bunco, Bridge, quilting, college alumni, service organizations, country club, golf, tennis, bocce ball, hiking, gourmet, etc.)
-Places you frequent (grocery stores, doctor’s & dentist’s offices, staff and patients at your chemotherapy treatment center, banks, dry cleaners, hair/ nail salons)
-Places your kids are involved (schools, PTA meetings, sports teams, choirs, academic clubs, friends/ classmates)
-At work (co-workers, clients/ patients/ students)
Your strategic place can be with anyone anywhere. When the Holy Spirit leads the way, things just fall into place. He does all the work–you are simply His willing instrument.
Try praying a simple prayer like this: “God, open my eyes to a place in my life where You want to use me strategically to further Your kingdom. Pour out your Spirit and equip me with the tools I need to impact others for You.”
Post a comment to let us know how God is using you strategically!
If you still need further encouragement and inspiration, click on the link and enjoy Josh Wilson’s song “Pushing Back the Dark.”