6 Steps to take to Move Toward the Mess

Move Toward the Mess: 6 Steps to Take

I don’t know about you, but watching all these people stepping up and helping out in Houston has me chomping at the bit to move toward messes myself.

Even though most of us can’t do much more than pray about the messes left by the hurricanes and fires, there are probably plenty of messes in closer proximity to where we sit. But sometimes it can be hard to figure out how to get going. 

Move Toward the Mess in 6 Steps

If you’re as interested as I am in applying the lessons learned from Harvey’s Helpers about Moving Toward the Mess, I hope these six steps I’ve compiled will get you heading in the right direction. Whether it be our current situation caused by extreme weather in the gulf or south east, fires in the North West, poverty, racism, orphans, or any other thing that breaks your heart, the steps are pretty much the same.

You may notice prayer isn’t a step in the process. It is so much more. Prayer is what binds us to God’s will and the stirring of His Spirit as we move toward the mess. Without it we might be tempted to move toward the wrong messes, move to soon or wait too long, go for the wrong reasons, take the wrong message, or even drag the wrong people along with us. Pray about and answer the questions in each step to help you solidify your plan and maintain your momentum moving forward.

Prayer is what binds us to God's will and the stirring of His Spirit as we move toward the mess. #movetowardthemess Click To Tweet

1. Motives6 Steps to take to Move Toward the Mess

Mining Your Motives is the crucial first step in moving toward the mess. We cannot be motivated by selfish ambition or potential rewards. Instead, love must move us toward the mess. Other motives will be seen for what they are early and could become a cause of resentment for the very people we long to help. No matter what mess you’re moving toward, you’ll have to understand your motives to maintain your momentum.

What motivates you to help?

2. Mess

Sometimes God uses the messes He’s brought us through to show us the ones He wants us to move to. Not only do we gain legitimacy by having first hand experience with the struggle those we long to help are in, but we’ve lived to tell about it. Using lessons learned from our own messy past to help others mired in similar situations might just be the embodiment of Romans 8:28. We hurt for those whose pain we’ve felt, but sometimes God breaks our hearts for other hurts. Let’s face it a natural disaster makes good news for a while, but our country has plenty more messes that need us to move toward them. 

Which mess hurts your heart most?

3. Members

We are stronger together. Moving toward the mess alone can be scary and exhausting, but when we gather a group with similar goals, we gain protection, encouragment, and increase our resources. Plus, bonds forged in during crisis create strong communities more equipped to handle future crisis. Who else can you recruit to help you? What are their experiences and strengths? Can you partner with organizations already doing similar work? Pooling our resources creates synergy. Together we can do more good than going it alone. 

Who will move toward this mess with you?

4. Means

Identifying the resources you have to invest and the requirements for a particular mess helps solidify your strategy. Do you have time, talent, or treasure to give? Our contributions should meet specific needs and be conveniently packaged to do the most good. Sometimes sending stuff to make ourselves feel better makes an even bigger mess. Money donated to organizations specifically designed to handle certain situations often makes the most of our means. No matter what else you may have to give, prayer is always a welcome contribution. See how this man in Houston put his means to good use.

What means do you have to invest in this mess?

5. Message

How can you share the hope you have in Jesus? How has your faith helped you overcome similar messes? You might not lead with the “Jesus talk” in every situation, but we ought to always be prepared to share the hope we have with others. Seeing love in action meeting very real needs for the people of Houston filled me with hope for humanity. It could be just that simple for the mess you choose to move toward. Meeting physical needs could be what’s needed to restore hope in the hurting. Jesus met physical needs… He fed the hungry, healed the sick, gave sight to the blind, and raised the dead … as a way to demonstrate His fulfillment of the people’s spiritual needs.

What message will you share?

6 Steps to Move Toward the Mess6. Move

Now, you’ve got to get moving. I don’t mean to jump in and act without thinking, but make a list and start checking off some of the necessary tasks. I can almost guarantee you will lose momentum if you don’t get moving. There may be times when things don’t happen as quickly as you’d hope, but that’s when you go back to your motives to provide the power to keep you involved. Just as too little planning can spell disaster, too much planning without action often leads to failure. Moving toward the mess is typically more marathon than sprint, but either way you’ve got to start putting one foot in front of the other. 

What’s your first step toward the mess?

Which of these steps is most likely to be a stumbling block for you? Does contemplating these questions help you form a plan for moving forward?


More Move Toward the Mess Posts:

Wisely Investing Our Worth

Identity Influences Investment

Prison Ministry with Carmen Horne

Racial Reconciliation with Kathie Harris

Pregnancy Resources Center with Martha Merritt

Possibilities Not Practicalities

Hugs, Hand-Holding, and Hope

Lessons From Harvey’s Helpers


6 Steps to take to Move Toward the Mess


Linking Up With

For more encouragement please join the discussions on these fabulous blog link ups – Suzanne EllerThought Provoking ThursdaySusan B. MeadFaith Filled FridayGrace and TruthFaith and Fellowship FridayGrace and Truth FridayGood Morning MondaySoul SurvivalMonday MusingsRah Rah Link UpTell His StoryWoman to Woman WednesdayWomen With Intention WednesdaySitting Among FriendsTestimony TuesdayPlanting Roots, and Fresh Market Friday.

22 thoughts on “Move Toward the Mess: 6 Steps to Take

  1. I love how you are taking so much inspiration from the hurricane rescue/help efforts, friend! I think the step most likely to trip me up is #6 MOVE! I get lots of ideas, think about them, and don’t actually DO them! But I love how you’re spelling it out for us. Motivation is so important. 🙂

  2. This message is such perfect timing for me, Liz. I am supposed to go to the Houston area in two weeks to help clean up the mess, and I’m nervous about it. But working through these 6 steps helps me feel better. Thank you!

  3. There’s so much wisdom in your observation that God has specially equipped us for future messes by taking us through our past messes! Thanks for this great perspective because it gives me hope that all we have traveled through equips us for future ministry!

  4. Hi Kelly! I like what you say about “Means”. Our congregation does a lot of community ministry and our Pastor always says “don’t give away things you don’t want – give away something that you would want someone to give you”. Thanks for sharing this timely post!

  5. Such good points, Liz. Strangely enough, sometimes the “move” part is the hardest for me of those — mostly because not knowing where to begin can feel paralyzing. Ya know? But, like you say–prayer is the beginning. Thanks for sharing, friend. ((xoxo))

  6. Liz,
    I love your steps. They are so helpful. I am in a particular mess where my motives were love but now it has turned to resentment and I want out of it. I realize before changing anything I need to spend more time in prayer and make sure my motives are coming out of love.

    Thank you,


  7. I’m just so struck by how pretty your site is 🙂 Not messy at all, Liz, haha! I could take a page from your book. I make lists and then lose my own lists. Despite me being my own worst organizational enemy, God is always faithful when it comes to relationships and helping me to love others despite their messes. I guess it takes one to know one. That being said, a wonderful grace reminder, thank you. I’m happy we’re neighbors at #RaRa this week. Have a great day!

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