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Have you ever been driving around the city you serve and wondered if God would be mad if you just loaded up your car and never came back? Some of you serve in cities and towns where you wake up every morning wondering if you can make it one more day. I remember when God moved my family to a small little town called Bloomfield, KY. I wanted nothing more than to live in a big city and God had me serving in a town of 1,200 full of University of Kentucky basketball fans. I seriously wondered if I could make it! I served there for over three years and what I learned was that if you want to be effective you have to learn to love the place God has you serving. That doesn’t mean you have to like everything about where you are at but you have to take the time to understand what is “good” and “beautiful” about the culture you serve. In Bloomfield I learned to love the city and it helped me love the people in a way I could never have dreamed. Here are a few ways to begin to love a city or town you just might not like very much…

  1. Pray // if you find yourself not able to embrace your city simply ask God to change your heart. Begin to pray for the good of your city and God will help you love your city. You will begin to see the city as God does.
  2. Connect and Listen // take time to connect with people who have lived in your city or town for years and just listen and learn the history of that community. You might be surprised at the friends you will make if you just slow down and connect.
  3. Serve // do something in the community to help make your city a better place to live. Coach a team, be a big brother, clean up a park, or volunteer at the hospital. Just serve the community!
  4. Respect // learn to respect what matters to the people you serve. You don’t have to like it or understand it but you need to respect it. When you respect the people you serve your heart can open up to love the people you serve.
  5. Widen Your Perspective // sometimes we just need to understand that God sees the bigger picture and already has the bigger plan under control. Stop and remember to be fully present where you are and let God use you. You will not be there forever so stop wasting time trying to run away and serve with passion.

How have you learned to love the city you serve? What’s some advice you would give a young leader?