“We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God,” they said. (Acts 14:22)

MANY PEOPLE REPORT that after undertaking a mission trip to change the lives of others, they themselves were changed in the process. Their understanding of the world is broadened, and their priorities in life become more defined. As parents or grandparents, we mature in character as we help our children and grandchildren grow. When visiting with the lonely, we develop a relationship and learn from listening.

In Acts 13, Barnabas and Saul set out on a trip to preach the Word of God and witness God’s life-changing power. In Acts 14, we see Paul and Barnabas return. Saul, the newly converted persecutor of Christians, had grown into Paul, the bold preacher and evangelist, persecuted himself yet persevering. This growth did not come easily. He was stoned and left for dead. He confronted a sorcerer. He proclaimed God’s Word again and again with great passion and energy.

As we minister to others in our lives, we will be changed, but it won’t always be easy. Wherever you are in your walk with the Lord, there is room for growth. God uses a variety of people and opportunities in this process. Sometimes we become more like Jesus through helping those younger in their walk of faith. God even uses encounters with unbelievers to nurture our faith. God’s intricate design of relationships strengthens both the disciple and the disciple-makers.

Look for an opportunity to grow by serving others today.

Rachel Schmoyer is a mom of four and pastor’s wife who enjoys cooking from scratch with ingredients from a local organic farm.