Ministry, like life, can be messy. Our flesh can get into the mix and cause “not-so-good” consequences. When the “flesh” questions the call, doubt takes over.
While I was certain of God’s call, I had all kinds of doubts about serving Him. I struggled with my insecurities and my inabilities—not to mention my deep southern accent. I thought, “Most need an interpreter when speaking in a foreign country. With my accent, I’ll need one in order to speak in the north!” What’s funny—I speak mostly in the North!
When I first realized that God was calling me to serve beyond what I was already doing at my home church, I sought the advice of a wise counselor—my pastor. But not before I went through extreme agony for about a year. I brought this agony on myself by doubting God instead of trusting Him.
You see, I was very shy growing up. While I had a deep faith in God, I never dreamed I’d grow up to be a speaker and author—NEVER! English was my worst subject in school which you may have already figured out by reading my blog. And I use to get sick and run a fervor if I had to make an announcement in front of my Sunday school class. Public speaking was never on my “what I want to do when I grow up” list. Therefore, I wanted to be certain God had called me before I approached my pastor. I spent long hours each day in prayer and in the Word.
When I finally made an appointment with my pastor, my worry instantly ceased. Taking that first step was validated by peace. At the time, I wished I had been obedient from the start. It’s tough living with doubt and conviction.
The first lesson I learned about ministry is that it’s not something we decided to do. God does the choosing. That was my question exactly. I wanted to know for certain that God had called me. Otherwise, I’d only be wasting my time, my family’s time, and others who needed to be gleaning from a true prophet of God.
My pastor gave me a simple answer to my question. “Wait.” He told me to wait on God. We already knew that I had heard from God. Now, understand, I don’t claim to have heard the audio voice of God, but it was the loudest, clearest thought I ever had—one that wouldn’t go away—not even for a year. It’s important that you and I have a clear sense that God has called us. There should be a time in your life and mine where we can pin point that call. After that, we wait and trust God to lead us.
I was reminded of this lesson from my pastor when during my conversation with Beth Moore. She shared, “The key to ministry is never get ahead of the anointing.” When we’re running ahead of God, we can’t be in the center of His plan. We simply spin our wheels trying to get somewhere while God spends His time chasing us down.
It’s like trying to chase down a hungry toddler who wants his lunch but runs from his mother who is trying to place him in his highchair.
After we are certain that God has called us, we wait. My pastor told me that God would make His plan crystal clear in unmistakable ways. This meant that I didn’t have to promote myself. I didn’t have to develop an agenda. I didn’t have to network with others in the same ministry. I didn’t have to knock on doors and ask God to open them. I didn’t have to pray for opportunities or for the expanding of territory. I certainly didn’t have to worry about the competition. No. I simply had to wait and trust that God would show me the way in His timing. This was my experience time and again. In fact, I’m still experiencing miracles that confirm God’s favor and direction on my life.
The cool thing is God also made my call unmistakable to my husband as well. Since I didn’t know how to use a computer and needed to brush up on my English skills along with others, my pastor thought it was a good idea to return to school while I waited on God.
Taking his advice, my husband, who is an accountant with a personality, accompanied me to the state’s school where I filled out the necessary papers to enroll. When the office worker return, he informed us that my tuition had already been paid and I was free to pick up my schedule.
This sent my accounting thinking husband’s head spinning. He questioned the young man as to how the tuition had been paid. The officer worker told us that their records showed I had enrolled 18 YEARS ago but never came to class. This was correct. I had met a really cute guy and ran off and got married. Now, it was 18 years later and the school was honoring their records.
To my husband, this was unlikely. He knew that he accounting department would have returned the check to my parents or after all these years written it off the books. The young boy agreed, and yet, there it was and they were honoring it. Cool huh? God leaves no detail or worry undone. From that moment on, my husband was certain in his heart that God was indeed leading us.
With each miracle, God illuminated the path I was to walk. As I took each step with obedience and trust, He’d uncover more of the path—and continues to do so today.
What freedom! I don’t have to worry and work. I don’t have to compete or contemplate. I just simply trust and obey. As God leads, in life and ministry, I find myself where I truly long to be—the center of His will.
Are you trusting God or trying to work out your own life and ministry? You and I can say we are trusting God, but our true beliefs will be revealed in our actions. Let me leave you with these thoughts from John Ortberg.
“I have three different kinds of convictions. We might think of them in this way: what I say I believe; what I think I believe; and what I reveal I really do believe by my actions.
The best indicator of my true beliefs and my true purposes are my actions. They always flow out of my mental map about the way things really are. What I say I believe might be bogus. What I think I believe might be fickle. But I never violate my idea about the way things are. I always live in a way that reflects my mental map. I live at the mercy of my ideas about the way things really are. Always. And so do you.”