Monday, August 19, 2013

Ministry as a Single Person

My church has a newsletter for the women in the church called, By the Way.  I was puzzling through some stuff on my own and was processing events in my life a couple of months ago and ended up with this article as I wrote out my thoughts.  I asked one of the ladies who work with By the Way if it would be something they were interested in.  Not a big deal, but as I read it again today, I continue to be in awe of what God does in my heart in regard to how I love people and how I relate to people.  Just Friday night, I had to make a decision between two events that I wanted to go to.  I chose to go to my Sunday School class social.  And I never regretted it!  They are an amazing group of people who welcome this single gal into their midst without thinking twice about it!  I love them for it and trust me when I say that they are a hilarious group of people to hang out with.  Cheese puffs and shaving cream might have been used in a game.

Anyway, here is the article I wrote for everyone who doesn't get By the Way:

Ministry as a Single Person

In my final year of graduate school, I lived with a family as a nanny for a year.  This was a huge blessing to me in so many ways.  It was there that I was first able to see the love of Christ demonstrated through family and what it means to raise a family as believers.  When I graduated, the husband and wife (Chris and Sarah) sat me down to have a conversation about my future.  I don’t remember much of what we talked about, but one part of the conversation has really stuck with me and has been a guiding force for me in ministry and how I pursue relationships with other believers.  First, Chris asked me when I would ideally want to be married.  I jokingly said, “Two years ago.”  But joking aside, my desire was for marriage and a family, and they knew that based on my heart to take care of their children and be a part of their family for that year.  Their advice to me as I was moving from Texas to Illinois, while partly about finding the person I would want to spend my life with, was to find a church where I could serve families and serve alongside families in ministry.  They knew this was where my heart was in ministry and they believed that in doing so, the man the Lord had for me would be found serving alongside me in these ministry opportunities. 

It has been seven years since that conversation and I am still struck by how much those words have meant to me and have driven how I do ministry as a single person.  I am often struck by the diversity of the body of Christ.  And as a single person, that diversity can sometimes be intimidating and can sometimes make me want to crawl into my single person shell and only seek other single people who understand me. Finding places to serve can sometimes be intimidating as a single person.  For a long time, I had a misguided idea that some ministry opportunities were only going to be relevant for me if I were to get married.  For example three years ago my question was: How could I possibly be a director in AWANA when I am younger than many who serve and I don’t have a family of my own? I quickly was given counsel in this area and was able to realize that it was my own fear stopping me and creating doubts.  The more I find opportunities to serve alongside families, the more blessings I am able to receive and bestow.  You can currently find me directing the T & T AWANA girls on Wednesday nights, serving on a couple of nursery teams, and helping in the kitchen for different events.  Most Sunday mornings (because I am a creature of habit), you can find me sitting five rows from the front on the left side with a wise woman in the faith.  We originally met on a committee for Women on their Own.  I sit with her because I do not have opportunity to see her outside of church and because it is nurturing to my spirit when I miss a week and find out that she has asked others where I am.  And even in our few minutes of conversation before and after the service, I gain a new perspective on my own Christian walk by listening to the perseverance of a saint as she tells me about her week.   Since last year I have been attending one of the multi-generational  ABC classes on Sunday mornings.  Through that class, I am able to study God’s Word with people who are my parents’ ages, who have families, and who are just starting families.  Our life stages do not matter, because God’s Word doesn’t change for the single person or the married person or the widowed person.  God’s Word remains true no matter our life circumstances.  I am also in a small group that has people from other countries in it and people of different life stages.  And again, we are all able to study God’s Word together and encourage one another through the study of His Word. 

Through Bethany, I have found exactly what Chris and Sarah prayed that I would find.  A church where I can minister among families and to families.  A place where I am part of something bigger than myself and where I can seek to glorify God today.  Not while I am waiting, but as I am in service for Him.  Have I found that husband?  No.  But I can’t say that it was ever truly my motivating factor for following Chris and Sarah’s advice.  My motivating factor was to trust the Lord’s good for me and that He would give me the desires of my heart.  Those desires are not always fulfilled in the way we would want them to be fulfilled.  Do I have a family of my own?  No.  But I have children I minister to in multiple ministries.  And I have families who welcome me into their homes to share life with them.  And I am filled with joy as I seek to live out the plans God has for me today.

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