This week, I was blessed to speak at Ignite, the business acceleration conference, in Chicago.  Amazing group of business leaders from across the country gathered to learn how God might ignite their passion to grow the business entrusted to them for His glory.  You might think that is a strange place for a legal aid leader to speak, but God shows up in unexpected places.

I want to share stories of people I encountered who were impacted because a stubborn, proud lawyer finally obeyed God and stepped out in faith.  This is not about me.  It is about God.  And the joy He provides through faithful obedience.  That same joy can be yours.

The Story of a Reluctant Servant

You may know my story.  God called me to leave a highly successful law practice to serve the least of these.  To hear some tell the story, I donned my Superman cape and swooped down to do justice.  Hardly.

God was calling me to step out of my comfort zone to help neighbors in need.  But I had twin infant sons, my wife was staying home, and it was not the right time.  Never tell the author of time, it’s not the right time.

God placed me in the middle of several lawsuits, two buildings I was negotiating to purchase fell through, two new hires fell apart, and God simply said – “Stop running”.

Some of you feel that nudge in your soul and you are doing everything you can to suppress it.  God is calling you to serve and you are placing Him on hold.  I’ve been there.  Trust me – pick up the phone.  Answer the call.

“Is that like what Bruce Strom does?”

I was attending a workshop at the Ignite Conference the day before I was to speak.  We are sitting at tables and told to turn to our neighbor to tell them what you do.  I listened to the woman I was next to explain her company and then explained how God called me to establish legal ministries across the country to serve people in need.

She said matter-of-factly – “Is that like what Bruce Strom does?”  I honestly took a look at my name tag just to make sure it was me.  I held the name tag up and she laughed. Then she told me her story.

Years ago she separated from her husband and was seeking a divorce.  A friend told her she needed to call me.  She could remember clear as yesterday being at a gas station, fumbling with the number, and making the call.  My neighbor described a compassionate listener who prayed with her and encouraged her not to pursue the divorce.  She was at a crossroads and that word was what she needed.  Now she was at the conference with her husband.  In fact a decade later they have a thriving business and are leaders in their church.

Good Samaritan’s Stop

I used to run on a fast six minute clock, recording and billing for my time.  I was so busy I missed the opportunity to serve neighbors in need.  My fast pace drowned out the still small voice calling me to a bigger purpose – calling me to advance God’s Kingdom.  Can you relate?

As I shared at the conference, most of Jesus parables are about business and advancing the Kingdom of God.  Those are NOT mutually exclusive.  Work is God’s plan for providing the means to rescue and restore neighbors in need.

I am blessed to take a call nearly every day from someone in need.  From coast to coast there are hurting neighbors looking for legal answers in the midst of difficult circumstances.  Like the injured man on the Jericho road they see good people passing them by, never knowing the pain and worry they feel.  But when a lawyer stops to ease that pain with good counsel and direction, hope is restored.

That hope is in God, not circumstances.  I met two other women at the conference who Administer Justice, the organization I founded, had assisted over the years.  Both went through a divorce.  The world is broken.  But now these women had businesses, were active in church, and grateful to be restored because someone stopped to help them when they needed it most.

Did the Samaritan know what happened to the injured man after he was restored?  Only Jesus would know since it was his story, but that is the point.  When Jesus invites us to ‘Go and Do Likewise’, it isn’t to an end, but a beginning.  That starts with stopping.

The Good Samaritan experienced joy through faithful obedience

The Good Samaritan was a traveling merchant.  Hard to otherwise explain a Samaritan on the Jericho Road, with a donkey laden with wares, and a ssizablesum of money.  Jesus makes it clear that church people missed the opportunity to make a difference in the life of a neighbor, while the business man stopped.  God wants to use your business or law degree to help neighbors in need.

I shared the parables of Jesus that demonstrate this clear theme.  Afterward six business leaders came forward filled with joy to give $5,000 to start a legal ministry.  Fourteen business leaders came forward to make their facility available – to be the Inn – for a wounded neighbor.  As these business leaders step out by faith, I know they will experience immense joy.  There is joy in giving.  The Samaritan understood that.

Go and Do Likewise

I challenged those at Ignite to listen to Jesus voice and ‘Go and Do Likewise’.  I believe God has a bigger purpose for business.  He has a bigger purpose for a law degree.  That purpose is not so we can build bigger barns and be called a ‘rich fool’ (Lk. 12:16-21).  That purpose is to steward the talents entrusted to us in advancing God’s Kingdom purposes and be told ‘Well done good and faithful servant.’ (Mt. 25:14-30).

I believe God is calling you.  You may have him on hold, but he wants you to answer the call.  You may have resources to share, space to share, or time to share.  We need lawyers not to give up jobs, but give up one Saturday a month for real Kingdom impact.  We need others willing to provide hospitality, watch kids, help with forms, pray, connect people with resources, interpret and lead.  There is a place for you.

For too long I put God on hold.  I had no abiding joy.  But when He finally broke my stubborn, pride-filled heart, I experienced a deep abiding joy through faithful obedience.  My greatest joy is sharing that joy with others.  Step out in faith.  You will never be sorry for doing so.

If you are feeling God’s call, I encourage you to e-mail me, bruce@gji.org.  If you are able, I strongly encourage you to attend Restore 117 on June 8 at Judson University in Elgin, Illinois.  You will meet other volunteer leaders from across the country, see what a legal ministry looks like, and experience the power of the Holy Spirit fueling your passion for something bigger than yourself.

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