Do you remember when you felt “called to” ministry?
Like me you may have prayed, “Lord, I’m not sure what that calling looks like, but I am willing.” If you are one who has decided she was never “called to” traditional-looking ministry, please keep reading.
In our quest to answer that call, we start looking around to those already doing it and model ourselves after their calling.
Oops. Catch that? Yep, you are already ahead of me.
We study how these models dress, their style of delivery and begin to copy their thing.
It’s not a sin. It’s not a bad thing. It’s just not our God-thing.
When serving under my husband’s father as the youth pastor’s wife, unwittingly my mother-in-love showed me the ropes for how a preacher’s wife tended to the needs of the congregation. Not raised in a minister’s family, I watched other area youth pastors’ wives, for examples, so that I would not misstep. The old joke was that, if a girl could play the piano, teach Sunday school, look good at church conventions and fry chicken, she was perfect material for a young preacher!
God arranged for a student of another church to be His tool. Back then, several youth groups would get together for events. This particular night was at a roller skating rink with disco lights zinging and a sparkling mirrored ball spinning in the center. We cheered for those limber enough for Limbo and watched for teenagers attempting to sneak a kiss in the shadows of the couples’ skate song.
Skating backwards while passing me, the student blurts out, “You’re a youth pastor’s wife. Right?” Because it is always too loud for conversation in a skating rink, I yelled the affirmative. Somehow, what came next from that student’s mouth seemed to squelch all surrounding sound as he said, “You don’t act like a youth pastor’s wife. You’re having fun. I like it – it’s good!”
I had not realized I was playing and was having fun. Authentic me had burst from the self-imposed conformity. From that night forward, I stopped looking to others for my “called to” cues.
In his book, Whisper, pastor and author Mark Batterson quotes American psychologist, Abraham Maslow as having said, “A musician must make music, a builder must build, an artist must paint, a poet must write, if he is to be ultimately at peace with himself.”
I have come to believe, until we are comfortable with who God knit us to be, we will keep trying to conform to the models we see. It is like the account in 1 Samuel 17 of young David wearing King Saul’s armor. It doesn’t fit!
When we are comfortable in our knitted-ness, holy confidence wraps around a seed of hope, transitioning it to faith.
Years later, having been “called to” a new ministry, I stood in the middle of a huge city in another country telling God the calling was too big. His calm response spoke peace. “I asked you to be willing.” The needs lined up and God provided the miracles. When this happens again and again, a girl learns to stand confidently, giving doubt a dismissive wrist-flick. But, this kind of transition in faith takes place only when the calling is embraced, knowing God hand-picked you (including your talents, personality, desires and passions) for the job.
Let’s have the courage to shake off conformity and to own our holy knitted-ness. Let’s be who God created us to be, standing in unwavering faith to what we have been “called to.”
Holy Knitted-ness is Entry FIVE for our blog series on Transition in Ministry featuring the mentors of our Let's Come Alongside mentoring opportunity, now available. Join us next week for more insight from an LCA mentor right here at Sanctuary.
Samalee --"Sam" to friends-- and Terry Allen have been in ministry together since before the day they said, "I do," in 1985. Still under the belief that student ministry is the best job ever, the Allens continue to help feed, educate and medically-assist students in India as mission representatives with Calcutta Mercy & Huldah Buntain. Their son, Dane, and daughter-in-love, Emily, serve on-staff at The Church at Pleasant Grove in Tennessee, where "Sam" & Terry lead a weekly Bible study life group when not traveling for the ministry. Sam blogs at centerofthepie.blogspot.com and is also one of our Let's Come Alongside mentors.