Today I want to talk about how we cope when the church looks at us differently. Does it affect our opportunity to serve?
I decided to look at this because one of our SUMites recently shared that's how she feels. She said something along the lines of: "Sometimes I feel the leaders might look at me and think there's something wrong with my life because my husband isn't believing. That might make them less likely to trust me or think of me as an obvious person to serve."
Have any of you have found that?
In my experience it's certainly been harder to build social connections and trust at church, at the very least. Because my husband isn't there it takes longer for people to know me.
That said, there's a tremendous truth here that is rather exciting: God overrides these things if he really wants you to serve in a particular area.
I experienced that in a personal way recently. Many of you know my church closed last year, and then I followed the Holy Spirit's lead in moving to a new church. The old church was mostly made up of families. The new church is mostly in their twenties. Sometimes I feel very old in this new place!
One day while back in the old church, God stirred my heart that I was to start preaching there. "Yikes, that's bold of me I thought" ((laughing)). That's not the sort of thing you put yourself forward for easily, so I didn't mention it to anybody. But, one day the leader of the preaching team came running after me as I was leaving church. "Ann, would you like to give the sermon next week?" My mouth dropped open.
God opened that guy's heart to my desire to serve; and that's how it goes: God gives us a stirring, and then it kind of happens.
Well, I really enjoyed that season of preaching in that church. But, you know, Bryce never attended once, and I stood up there alone each time. It was tough almost as much as it was rewarding. That seems to be the nature of service, at times.
I then moved to the new church, and God said to me "Ann, now I want you to be a passenger, not a driver." In other words, he was asking me to step back and be a behind-the-scenes support. Meanwhile, my son Miles (age 16) signed himself up for the 7:30am set-up team on a Sunday, and that's what he and I now do once a month. That too feels 'meant to be', as God also said to me "I just want you to talk to people." While setting up, that's what I do.
Now, back to our SUMite sister's comment: Yes, in my new church I'm experiencing a little of what she said. It's been difficult to get to know people. I'm looked at a little differently too, as I don't fit the mold. It's ok -- God's breath on my life has shown me where he wants me.
Overall, though, I think the following quote captures how we must walk this. It's from Dineen, our past leader, and I just happened across it yesterday. She said:
"Don’t confuse your calling or ministry or service as who you are. Those are things you do. They come from your identity in Christ. All that we do to serve must be held loosely because we really don’t know the full picture of where God plans to take us next."
A hearty amen to that. So, let's seize the adventure of where God wants to take us next. Who knows, huh! All we know is that we must do this:
Through love, serve one another (Galatians 5:13, NKJV), and --
.. in honor giving preference to one another; not lagging in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord (Romans 12:10-11, NKJV)
Now your turn: What's your favorite area to serve in at the moment? And have you found it looks different in different seasons?