At the end of my freshman year of college, I applied for a leadership position in the campus ministry I’d been a part of all year. I wasn’t sure what area would be the best fit, but I figured I could probably lead a small group or be part of the event-planning committee. Instead, I was asked to be part of the technology team, running sound equipment and creating videos with less-than-state-of-the-art equipment.
I couldn’t believe it! Clearly when the people making decisions sat down to assign roles, they ended up with my name and an opening on the tech team and decided that would be good enough. I couldn’t imagine anyone in charge really knew me and came to the conclusion that I should be the one taking a stack of VHS tapes to the library to manually edit them into a promotional video!
Spoiler alert: As it turns out, using technology has played a large part in every part of my career and ministry since then.
Several years later, when my husband and I joined five other couples to plant a new church in our community, we decided that each couple would focus on one specific ministry area. We were certain we’d be assigned discipleship — we loved all things small group related! But no. My husband and I were told that we’d be heading up the Fellowship Ministry, teaching our first church members about community and planning the monthly potlucks.
Again, I was so shocked and so hurt! I could do more than plan a potluck! I wanted to do something more important! More valuable! More . . . impressive.
I can’t even pretend that this is a spoiler, because I’m sure you’ve guessed already. Yes, as it turns out, fellowship (and community and even hospitality) is something that’s become incredibly meaningful to me over the years.
Over the years, God has used this pattern to teach me a few things. First, He knows me better than I know myself. Second, even if nobody else knows me, God does, and His plans for me will not fail. Third, the gifts and ministries I consider the least important can be quite significant when I obey and surrender to His will.
At the beginning of this year, I felt that God was laying a big dream on my heart. I had recognized a need in myself and in my community, and He brought to mind a plan for addressing it. By early March, I had a partner and we had a plan. And then . . . well, you know.
The world stopped turning there for a while, and all my great plans fell apart. Even my medium plans fell apart, if you want to know the truth, and I haven’t yet recovered a single one. I’m drowning in extra responsibilities and “unprecedented” anxiety, and a productive day is one where everyone in my house is fed and reasonably clean. My days and my mind don’t have room for extra projects right now. My schedule refuses to allow me the space for big dreams and big callings.
And yet, not everything is out of my control. There are still some things I can choose and can do. This is why, when life came to a screeching halt this spring, I started writing notes each week.
Every week since my kids didn’t return to school from spring break, I’ve sat down with a stack of note cards and stamps, and I’ve written notes. Updates on life for those I can’t easily text. Check-ins with long-distance friends. Encouragement for those struggling so much more than me — reminders that they’re not alone and that we will make it through this season.
It doesn’t take long. It’s such a small thing. I rarely hear back from anyone I write to. But, thankfully, I don’t need a spoiler or hindsight to know that God is using this unlikely calling to minister to people — including me. It does my heart good to reach out, to think of others, to make this small action a habit.
All the personality, spiritual gifts, and strength-finding tests in the world have never revealed to me the most significant (and sometimes sneaky) ways God has used me to love His people. These unlikely callings have taken me by surprise over and over again, and I’m finally seeing the blessing in them.
For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.
Ephesians 2:10 (NLT)
What unlikely or surprising way has God used you to make a difference? Could He be inviting you into something like that right now?
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