This interview can be found in our February 2023 Newsletter
Q&A with Dr. Don Davis, Founder/Director of World Impact’s Urban Ministry Institute, a research and training center dedicated to equipping leaders and empowering movements for the urban church, especially among the poor, to advance the Kingdom of God in the city.
Dr. Davis is also World Impact’s Senior Vice President of Church Resources. He has served nearly 50 years in city ministry as a pastor, church planter, professor, author, executive trainer, musician, husband, father, and grandfather.
How Does The Mission of Serving USA Align With Dr. Don Davis?
Why Serving USA? How did you first learn of Serving USA? What is it about our mission which led you to be an active member of the Serving USA Board of Directors?
Dr. Don Davis's Answer
As you know, Serving USA started out 10 years ago as Serving California, and I first heard about Serving California when it became clear that they were interested in our prison satellites of The Urban Ministry Institute. The vision, energy, and commitment of B. Wayne Hughes, Jr. inspired me to want to be involved in whatever I could in terms of their work. It was visionary, hungry, and efficient, focusing on investing wise resources into people and programs that made a difference. The mission of Serving USA challenges me in connection to what I believe God can do with God-called people. Its focus is narrow and dedicated to immediate impact. It is sustainable because it seeks to find programs and practitioners of the highest integrity already engaged in a life-changing activity and aims to strengthen their hands and work. This model of change is not only sustainable, but necessary. The needs of the broken and hurting are too vast to accomplish through any given program or work; Serving USA invests in dedicated, committed workers whose expertise and history prove their competence and effectiveness.
How Does Your Emotional Health Impact Your Ministry, Leadership and Influence?
With everything you’re involved in and experience as a leader and influencer, what are some ways in which you keep your self emotionally healthy?
The most satisfying and significant thing I do to ensure my emotional health as a leader is maintaining my relationship with the Lord, my family, and the people of the Lord. This maintenance has always been my priority: cultivating my daily relationship with Christ, followed by my service and dedication to my family and children, and my friendship and discipleship with my colleagues and fellow workers in Christ. I've always had the conviction that it's impossible to be used by God if you are not personally refreshed and strengthened. Only when you take your health seriously, only then can the Lord Jesus use you to heal others. The implications of this maintenance are significant. I seek to spend time daily with God in the Scriptures and prayer and faithfully gather weekly in church with fellow believers. Of course, I strive to exercise regularly, follow a good diet, and get a good night of rest (which has always been a challenge!). Loving my wife Beth (of 48 years) and my children and their families bring much joy and contentment. My years of guitar playing, and composition have also blessed me immeasurably; worshiping God does wonders and relieves worry, doubt, and stress! These activities have made all the difference in my ability to maintain such longevity in demanding urban ministry. Emotional health is directly tied to your physical, spiritual, and intellectual growth. To neglect oneself is to ensure failure in one's personal life and ministry. Your efforts will prove unfruitful if you fail to keep your own soul healthy and flourishing.
Serving USA asks Dr. Don Davis About His Uplifting Ministry Work
Your work brings light and opportunities to help lift people and communities up and out of despair. What is a piece of advice you might offer someone in the Serving USA community to help them also reach a goal or make a positive change?
Dr. Don Davis's Answer
The one thing to emphasize to anyone seeking to help those on the bottom is to realize that only the Lord can change people. The easiest way to frustrate a generous, open-hearted, yet naïve worker is for them to think that what they do or say or how they act will be the most significant thing in the end. We can do very little toward the health and wholeness of another, outside of making oneself available to and praying for them, being an example and exhorter of the good for them. The responsibility for lasting change must always be with the individual; we can only assist and serve. We have limited influence in making others change or be different. We can contribute, but we can only play our part. The one lesson our Serving USA community must learn is this: if you desire to make a positive change in others, realize fully that only the Lord can change someone. Psalm 127 makes this plain: unless the Lord builds a house, those who build it labor for nothing. Without the Lord working out the issues in a person's life, with that person's full cooperation, permanent life change in them is simply not possible. Caring for others is an issue of making constant invitation to them to take the next step of obedience and growth. Only then can the Lord do the next thing in their lives. Many people serve the broken and the hurting, and yet never learn this. Unfortunately, such workers often wind up being cynical and resentful of all the people who failed to respond to their pleas for change and care. In the end, only the Lord can transform a heart or life. Serving USA believes this truth completely.
The Importance of a Christian Ministry Partnership
Serving USA empowers a generation of ministry leaders whose vision it is to transform those in their circle of outreach. God has called each of them to address problems in their particular area of burden, and we provide them with the funding, counsel, and support they need to thrive and succeed in their efforts.
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