Friday, May 09, 2008

Be a Little Jesus...

This past week ... really past few weeks ... has been a bit quiet here at Kisses of Sunshine. There have been numerous posts around the blogosphere that have really tugged at my heart and mind, and have left me in deep thought and prayer as to what my ministry at my own church should be. I thought I'd share with you some of the things that I've been thinking and praying about, because as I have silently read various blogs over the past few weeks (especially comments that women have left), I find that many women are in the same boat as I am. Struggling to find your place in ministry.

When I first became a Christian, I was a teenager, and I became very involved in my youth ministry and the youth leadership. I have fond memories of leading worship or devotions for the youth. I was also a part of the worship team in our church. As I graduated from High School, I began attending church at my husband-then-boy-friend's church, and began teaching middle-school youth Sunday School.

As the years progressed, and my ministries changed, they always focused around the same type of things: children, pre-youth, youth, and women. As the concentration of the children in our church began moving into middle school, the Pastor approached my husband and another friend in our church and asked if they would start a youth ministry. They each committed two years towards starting the youth ministry. I became a youth worker -- not leader, just a worker supporting my husband ... but soon after, it became clear that my husband did not feel called to youth ministry, and after his two years ended, I strongly felt God calling me into the ministry.

The other youth leader and myself were commissioned as youth pastors -- he for the middle school youth, and I was for the senior high youth. To be honest, I felt totally intimidated by the youth, and thought for sure that I wouldn't be accepted. After all, they were all athletic, and I was ... well ... NOT. But they embraced me with open arms, as did the parents, and I fell in love with a ministry I never, ever dreamed I would be called into. We developed relationships I cherish to this day.

Six years later, I found myself in a place in life where I new I had to step down. We were starting our first IUI cycles for infertility, and I felt as though all my attention had shifted and was keenly focused on starting a family of our own. I felt God calling me to step down from the responsibilities of Youth Ministry and pastoring the kids, but I slipped into leading the Children's Ministry for a short time, because they had no one to fill those shoes. At the same time, our church brought in a new Pastor and his family. I found that I was stepping out of ministry all together as he was beginning his new ministry at our church, and it saddened me, but it was also the time when Hunter was born, and my attentions needed to be focused elsewhere.

For two and a half years, I have focused on my family. It has been a bit of a relief to not have to juggle my time between a ministry and my family. I have still remained active in church (that will never change), and have helped plan functions such as retreats and celebrations, but haven't had a ministry outside of my family that I could embrace, pull close to my heart, and pour my energies and prayer into. For the most part, I can honestly say that I have felt content and am confident that I have been where God and my husband wanted me to be... but now -- now, I feel God calling me into ministry again. I just am not sure as to what it is.

I do have some ideas in my heart and mind ... and that alone adds a new sense of excitement to my emotions that are whirling around in my brain. Over the years, I have learned many valuable lessons about ministry. The first and most important lesson is: Be where God calls you to be because if you don't, you won't be happy and your ministry will suffer.

The next one would be: Don't spread yourself across the board (1 Corinthians 12). Only focus in on the ministry you're called into, and hone it. Perfect it. Give it your best and never any less. This was a hard lesson for me, because I am a member of a small church where a small group of people are the ones that step up to the plate time and time again. Also, I love to be involved... overly involved. And I hate to see anything (as in - other ministries) fail because I want our church to be successful. I want it to grow. I want it to be a beautiful place for many, many people -- a place where they can fall into and find comfort, love, support, healing. But over the years, I've learned that ministries are not successful when you only give a part of yourself, that's why it is important to not spread yourself thin with numerous ministries. We all need to play roles in building the church and developing healthy ministries -- we are all dependent on each other, and when one ministry is successful, the other ministries celebrate along side them.

The final one -- well, not final, but for the purpose of this post we'll call it the final lesson I've learned -- is that we shouldn't make a decision about ministry without prayer -- and a lot of it. I also think it is important to discuss your thoughts with someone else -- definitely your spouse, but also someone else -- possibly someone that you consider wiser than you.

Since I have brought some ideas to my pastor for his thoughts, and since I haven't even discussed all my thoughts and feelings with my husband, whom I look to for spiritual wisdom, I don't feel as though I can discuss what's going on in my mind with regards to where I feel like God is calling me specifically. But there will come a moment where I will share my excitement with you.

In the mean time, I'd like to point you to several other ladies who know where God wants them to be, and are pouring their hearts into their ministries. Donnetta, Sandy, and Amy, to name three. They have each written posts that have left me thinking, praying, and doing some soul searching, and I encourage you to read them:

Sandy wrote: Combat Loneliness, where she encouraged us to open our doors to the lonely. Sandy's focus is opening her home to people and offering hospitality as a gift to them. She also wrote: I Found My Niche where she highlights an email from a reader that has been moved into action with regards to a ministry in her own home. By the way, Sandy's entire blog is focused on hospitality and entertaining, and offering encouragement to the one who feels discouraged about entertaining. You should check it out.

Donnetta wrote: I Almost Missed It, where she highlights one of her many ministries... she opens her home to a group of moms that need "adult time" with no agenda -- just a time where the women can get together, chat about jobs, kids, family, etc.

Amy wrote: We Don’t Need No Stinking Pulpit -- She describes her own quiet ministry to the children of their neighborhood, and gives you tips on how you can start one also. She also gives some tips on how you can help out someone who already has this ministry.

Often times, when I talk to people about being involved in ministry, they freak. They think they aren't equipped, they don't know the Bible well enough (ummmm ... that COULD CHANGE!), they can't do it, and surely God couldn't be calling THEM into ministry. But you can do it, and God DOES call YOU into ministry. The examples that each of the ladies above shared were simple. One was as simple as opening her home to the neighborhood children; another was opening her home to moms who need some adult time; and the third was opening her home to other people, providing meals and hospitality to them. While those are just a few ideas of how God can use you ... YES, YOU ... they all have two common threads -- opening your home and hearts!! So simple!

And trust me ... you don't need to be a great spiritual leader to open your home up to a hand full of people and serve them a great meal. You don't need to be a great spiritual leader to provide a safe and comforting place for kids to play. You don't need to be a great spiritual leader to open your home to moms that need a child-free breather to chat or pray.

You just need to know Jesus, and in turn, be a little Jesus to others. That's all.

5 comments:

Kim Heinecke said...

"don't spread yourself across the board..." so very true!

Amy said...

Very well put.
"You just need to know Jesus, and in turn, be a little Jesus to others."
Almost too easy. ;)

Sandy said...

Well written GiBee. I can just feel your heart - wow! Thank you for mentioned my post. I think women are going to be very encouraged by reading this!

Happy Mother's Day!

Donnetta (momrn2) said...

Tears in my eyes...What a wonderful post! I am eager to hear how God is leading and directing you in your sphere of influence (once it is more formalized and you are able to share).

It is always so exciting to see and hear where God is at work, and He obviously is in your heart!! :-)

Also, thanks for the link love! ;-)

Beth/Mom2TwoVikings said...

Beautifully transparent and wonderfully described! Seasons...it's all about seasons (when single, pre-kids, with little ones, then with older kids) and being in God's will. I'm excited for you and will be praying for His guidance as you start off in a new direction! Praise Him!