Gather the right people to help. When you don't know an answer or can't meet a need, admit it, and look for others to join your team. Qualities to look for in people include: a strong commitment to Jesus, thoughtfulness, honesty, strong communication skills (writing as well as speaking), passion for people, a lot of energy, good discipline, a large worldview, thriftiness, and joyfulness.

Use your job skills. Consider how you might apply the skills you've gained in your career to your volunteer work, or even change your job so you're working in a more meaningful way. For example, if you develop luxury condos, you could shift your business' focus toward developing affordable housing for poor people. Do whatever you can to use your talents and skills to bring about more justice in your community.

Deal with sin wisely. Don't become desensitized to the sin in your own life while you're focusing on helping others overcome the sin in their lives. Confess your sins regularly to God and some other believers you trust. Repent of the sins you confess. Don't judge the people you're trying to help. Instead, remember that Jesus didn't come to save the righteous, but the broken.

Take a stand through civil disobedience when necessary. Since God is the ultimate authority, don't hesitate to stand against unjust laws or oppressive systems that contradict His Word. When your conscience urges you to act, go ahead and protest - but do so peacefully.

Give your best. Don't settle for less than a standard of excellence for yourself, and expect excellence from the others around you.

Form disciples, not just believers. Aim to do more than just introduce the people in your community to Jesus. While evangelizing is important, it's also crucial to help people move beyond belief alone to actually living their lives in faithful ways. Mentor them to help them grow spiritually, and ask some believers who you respect to mentor you so you can continue to grow spiritually yourself.

Adapted from Follow Me to Freedom: Living as an Ordinary Radical, copyright 2009 by Shane Claiborne and John M. Perkins.  Published by Regal Books, a division of Gospel Light, Ventura, Ca.,
Shane Claiborne, bestselling author of
The Irresistible Revolution and coauthor of Jesus for President and Becoming the Answer to Our Prayers is a prominent activist and sought-after speaker. He is one of the founding members of The Simple Way, a community in inner-city Philadelphia that has helped birth and connect radical faith communities around the world. Shane serves on the board of directors of the Christian Community Development Association.
John M. Perkins has ministered among the poor for nearly 50 years. He founded Mendenhall Ministries, Voice of Calvary Ministries and the Harambee Christian Family Center and Preparatory School, and was cofounder of the Christian Community Development Association. He is the author of nine books, including the civil-rights classic
Let Justice Roll Down, one of the top-50 books of the last half of the twentieth century, according to Christianity Today. John has served on the boards of directors of World Vision, Prison Fellowship, and the National Association of Evangelicals. He is an international speaker and a teacher on the issues of racial reconciliation, indigenous leadership development and community development.

Original publication date: December 1, 2009