So, if you’re Southern Baptist, you may have heard what’s happening with IMB these days. It’s a little thing called the VRI. Essentially, IMB is cutting 600-800 overseas and home office positions to regain a healthy financial position. This is a good thing, and I applaud our leaders for the courage to take these very necessary steps.
What this means, though, is that during “Phase 1,” IMB is offering a voluntary retirement incentive to overseas workers and home office staff who are at least 50 years old with 5 years of service.
That means I’m qualified.
I’ve joked over the past few weeks that at least I’m qualified for something. I just didn’t expect it to be retirement.
In the days between the announcement and receiving my packet yesterday, I’ve had time to think and pray a lot about what this means for me personally.
Most of all, it’s OK. I see it as a new opportunity to trust God. In many ways the VRI decision looks no different than other perplexing situations I’ve faced, situations that taught me to completely depend on Him, including the decision to follow His call to serve overseas with IMB in the first place. Throughout our lives and particularly over these past 16 years with IMB, He has led us every step of the way: From Powell, Tennessee to the Philippines. From the Philippines to South Korea. From South Korea to Thailand and from Thailand to Richmond, Virginia. We never moved on a whim. We always sought Him, and we are convinced that we are in this place at this time for His purposes. He knows what He’s doing.
So, what does trusting God look like to me? Here are five practical applications:
- Don’t get sucked into the negative. I can’t believe the number of blog and social media posts I’ve read that play up the negative and look for the hidden agenda in all of this. Really? How does this kind of rhetoric get us where we need to be?
- Position yourself to respond to God’s direction. When we were praying through moving from Powell to the Philippines, I often prayed, “Lord, don’t leave us alone until we are where You want us to be.” I never want to be so encumbered or tied so tightly to a place or a position that I’m not willing to allow God to redirect me. This positioning might look different in different circumstances and seasons of life, but it’s an important step for me to allow God the space to work.
- Explore options. OK, so I hadn’t planned for this “thing.” It may not be happening in my timing. What’s next? I can’t know where God is leading if I’m not willing to explore options. Granted, I don’t have to follow through on any of them, but at least it helps to be aware of the opportunities. One of them just might be God’s perfect plan for this time.
- Relax. This is always one of my favorites. Take a deep breath. Focus, and remember Who is in in control. Although it sounds like a cliche, He really isn’t surprised by any of this. And He will finish what He has started in my life.
- Wait. So far, I can honestly say that I have no idea what God wants me to do with this. I also know that He will make His path clear. And if He chooses to remain silent, I’ll stay right where I am. Moving when God intends you to stay can be just as disastrous as staying when God wants you to move. I try to follow this time-honored advice: If God is silent, trust the last word He gave you. He will speak when He is ready.