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Saturday, May 16, 2009

Thoughts on My Ministry

I wrote this post several weeks ago.

I trust that God's timing for it's publishing is perfect, for had I posted it when I first wrote it, Shelly's story would not have been available. She is ecstatic about my sharing it.

May you be blessed, encouraged, and compelled to walk in the good works God lays before you...(your family being #1)

My ministry.

Even those words look odd to me.

It's not "my" ministry, it's the ministry of the Lord through me. The same can be said of you.

It's the Lord's ministry through those who obey Him.

I've been thinking a lot about ministry lately...about what God desires to do with and through my life. About what an awesome, humbling thing it is that the Almighty would even choose to use any of us in His grand plan for mankind.

Last year, the Lord tugged on my heart...whisphered to my heart, to put together a Precept retreat. In every single step of the way, He went before us. He paved the way for that retreat to happen, and He did some awesome things in the hearts of many of us who were there.

Since the time of the retreat, I've had countless conversations with people who took the challenge from the Lord, and stepped forward to lead others in inductive study. Many of these stories came from people who had never led ANY Bible studies, much less a study that teaches people to reason through God's Word for themselves.

Immediately after the retreat, I was hit with sickness like I've never dealt with before.

For months upon months, I found myself sidelined.

Flattened.

Worn out.

But you know, the Lord was in control of all of it, and through it He has taught me some invaluable lessons.

I am so passionate about people being rooted in God's Word, that I don't always see the ministry right in front of my eyes.

I forget that it's important to have healthy meals for my family, down time with my sweetheart, game time with my children.

Yesterday as I was getting ready to go to church, to lead the youth (whom I love!) in our Wednesday night class, Brennan came into my bathroom crying. She told me that her tummy was really hurting, and that she didn't feel like going to church.

She LOVES Wednesday nights, so I knew this wasn't about her trying to get out of something she didn't want to do. (Um, that was MY trick when it came to school!)

I was a bit paniced. It was 5:40pm, and we had to leave for church in 20 minutes, and I had to discern in just moments, what I was to do.

In my flesh, I wanted to make her "buck up" and tell her that she'd be fine, and that Mommy had a class to teach.

But, in my spirit, I was unsure. So I prayed, and then I called a precious woman of God from within our body, and she graciously stepped forward and taught class that night.

And I stayed home with my first ministry, and cuddled and watched a movie.

And you know, the sweet woman who took my class that night, and has raised 4 children who know and love the Lord, said to me, "Sometimes, all they need is you."

Oh, how she ministered to me through her kindness, and her heart of service!

I've been praying and asking the Lord to tender my heart toward home. I've removed different outside ministry roles from my plate so that my attentions could be focused more here.

It's not the most comfortable thing in the world for me. I like moving and shaking...I like pressing onward and upward.

I am passionate about people learning to study God's Word for themselves.

My heart aches for those who are believers in Jesus Christ, yet do not know what to do with their Bibles, or who don't realize that God's Word really will be a lamp unto their feet, and a light unto their path, TODAY if only they'll discipline themselves to spend time in it.

As a result of this passion for people to know God's Word, I struggle with how much I am to do. If it were only me, or if our kids were grown and Shane and I were free to teach people how to study any time we liked, I think I'd want to have a class going every day!

Shane told me the other day that it isn't Jesus who loads us to the point of breaking. It isn't the Lord who gives us so much on our plates that we get sick from it.

We do that.

His burden is light.

I think of the time that I left my own children in order to go for a week of training for ministry.

I left my children, and my husband. My husband still had to work full time, and my children were being shuffled in order for my "ministry" training.

If I had it to do over again, that would not happen. If I had it to do all over again, I'd make a different choice. I'd choose to wait upon the Lord, and to wait for training to come to my town, instead of leaving my family behind for a week.

I thank God that He knows my heart, and forgives my poor choices. That was definitely a poor one.

It grieves me that we as women have such internal battles as to what ministry is. Is it the feminist agenda at work that tells us that ministering to our families is not sufficient?

I was talking recenlty with my friend Shelly, another Precept leader, and she too has small children. She was sharing with me that they were having some huge struggles with their 4 year old.

I asked her how much time she was spending in the Word with him, and there was only silence coming from her end. Then she asked, "Really? I mean, really?! I guess I think he's too little to understand, or to get it. I mean, I teach women! Not kids!"

To which I said to her, "Oh no, sweet friend. If you have kids, you teach kids. It's that simple. If your children grow up to reject the Word, and you haven't done your job to teach it to them, you will never forgive yourself. And, it won't matter if every woman in your town is living for the LORD, if you haven't done your job with your kids."

What a joy it was to get a call from her just 2 days later, telling me that she had sat her children down and started on "Wrong Way Jonah!", and that they had LOVED it! She said they were so into it, and she was thrilled beyond words!

Huge!



Oh, to raise world changers for God's glory!

I remember several years ago when we first moved to town, that I would spend hours each week taking my kids to the park. With each trip to the park, I met new people. Most were moms who were new in town, and were looking for friends, and for places to connect.

The friendships that were formed, and the opportunities to share Christ with those moms, were unmatched.

Isn't that what ministry is, at it's core?

Living as the light of Jesus Christ in a world of darkness?

Loving others as Christ loved us, and being available to share His love with them?

As we move into the summer, I realize that much of "my" ministry is going to happen right here in my home...in my neighborhood.

There are going to be children in my home, or swimming in our backyard...children who may not know how precious they are to Jesus Christ.

Will I answer THAT call?

Will I minister reconciliation over cookies and milk, and a good water gun fight?

Or, will I be grumpy and stressed with these kids, because I have to prepare to lead Bible study?
Will I show my children, through sacrificial love, that their friends and their interests are important to me, or will I crowd out their needs for those needs that I deem "important?"

A new friend of mine said these words to me a few weeks ago, and they have powerfully impacted my life...

"I have to learn to say "no" to the good, so I can say "yes" to the great."

I don't want to sacrifice my family on the altar of "doing ministry."

I just don't.

And I've finally decided that I won't.

Again, I'm reminded, as I listen to the words of my precious and amazing husband...

"It's not Jesus that loads us to the point of breaking. We do that to ourselves."






































1 comment:

Deborah said...

Jes,
This post is such a blessing... and I believe so in line with God's Word and will for our lives. I thank God that He continues to do His work in us to allow those "living waters" to flow. I bet (although not a betting woman) God brings many opportunities your way in order for Him to bless others through you.

Bless you dear, praying for you,
Deb