For years I preached weekly as a youth pastor to junior and senior high students. I loved getting to dig through the Bible with them week by week. There is a fulfilling joy that comes from investing in ongoing discipleship in the context of committed community. But being part of the church team is a totally different deal for many reasons.
Firstly, I’m a woman. The debate about the roles of women in the Church is an important one. I believe everything that is in the Bible. All of it. For years our senior pastor asked me to preach to the adult congregation. For years I said no. But last year I said yes. I would be glad to share with you what led me to do that… another day. For now, I just want to say that being a woman means I am not quick to jump into preaching opportunities.
Secondly, I’m a sinner. Why the heck would I want to stand up and speak for God? In my mind, there is nothing more scary than that. I have no problem with public speaking. I actually enjoy it. But speaking about God’s Kingdom and His Word is something that scares me to my core.
To get it wrong is so costly. At the same time, not acting at all is more costly. Our Father God created us for good purposes and works (Eph 2:10). The Spirit has given us gifts as He determines and according to His plans (1 Cor 12:11). Jesus spoke a mobilizing vision for us to roll up our sleeves and work for Him (Matt 28:18-20).
Again, the Kingdom of Heaven can be illustrated by the story of a man going on a trip. He called together his servants and gave them money to invest for him while he was gone. (Matthew 25:14)
“Then the servant with the one bag of gold came and said, ‘Sir, I know you are a hard man, harvesting crops you didn’t plant and gathering crops you didn’t cultivate. I was afraid I would lose your money, so I hid it in the earth and here it is. (Matthew 25:24-25)
It is foolish to be afraid and hide from the opportunities God gives us.
This is what it all comes down to for me: When I am doing things that are too big for me to do on my own… I am forcing myself to be in relationship with my God. It’s the main reason I wanted to be a Youth Pastor in the first place. Having to disciple teens meant I had to know and walk with God. It’s a tactic that has helped me stay in relationship with Him! It’s an honor and a terror to put yourself in a risky position where you could fail unless God helps you.
Our pastor called me yesterday to see if I’ll preach again soon. He cautioned me to not give my usual knee-jerk “no” without praying first. Oh he knows me so well.
Honestly, it’s been a while. Not to say that parenting young kiddos and being a wife aren’t arenas in which I need God. I absolutely do! But there is safety in the way I get to “try-again-tomorrow” with them.
It’s been a while since I’ve felt the terror that comes when I work on sermon preparation. There is something deeply sacred and transformative that happens in me through the process of praying, hearing, researching, writing, practicing and delivering a sermon. For me, there is simply nothing else that comes close.
I would very much like to say no. I’m already getting tastes of the stress that ends up engulfing me. I’m already freaked out about the responsibility of speaking God’s Word. I’m already overwhelmed at the thoughts of having to clearly hear and being willing to receive and then give the message God speaks.
But I’m drawn to say yes. I’m compelled to embrace the terror because it is also an honor and brings deep fulfillment for me. So I’m praying about it.
How about you? What areas of serving God fill you with terror and fulfillment? What things bring you to your knees in prayer? What are your stories of seeing your inadequate emptiness be filled by the Spirit of God? What opportunities compel you into His presence?
Want to read through the Bible with me? Today’s readings are Psalm 32; Luke 18:1-42