I recently shared that I will be writing a series on the topic, “Leading through the Seasons,” so if you didn’t see the introduction to this series, you can take a look here.
I believe that all followers of Christ are called to full-time Christian service, whether as a volunteer or vocation. When we come to know Him as Savior, He expects us to take Him with us wherever we go to share our faith and minister to others. So, this series is really for every woman!
As we begin, think with me about what it takes to develop as a leader. It’s not all easy. There will be smooth seasons and bumpy ones. There will be calm winds and strong gales in stormy times. But the deeper we walk with the Lord, the better we can rejoice in good and bad times, and the stronger our roots hold in the storms.
Isaiah 61:3 talks about the “righteous trees” for God’s glory. Just like trees in strong, damaging winds, we will either break and fall or become stronger and more resilient in storms. Adversity is one way God strengthens us and makes us more effective in ministry to others.
So, since we are to serve the Lord as long as we have breath, He expects us to lead well in each season of life and ministry. As we begin, let’s start with spring and all its newness. It is my favorite time of the year because I love the flowers and trees turning green once again. (And I love warmer weather!)
The spring season can be used to describe the season when we begin to learn and serve in our walk with Christ. We haven’t had much experience, and we might be somewhat shocked that we actually can “lead” (or even that we are supposed to). We may not know exactly what we are to do.
A word of caution: if you have young children, be careful not to rush ministry, wanting it to be too big too fast. Your children, spouse, and family members are your first calling and ministry. Find ways to include your loved ones in what you are doing. Ask them to pray for you as you serve. Say “no” sometimes for their sake. Train a team to help you do it so it’s not all on your shoulders.
OK, now that that’s out of the way, here are some practical suggestions if you are new to ministry:
- Pray and ask God to reveal to you His purpose and calling in your life. Who has He created you to be, and what has He created you to do?
- Look around at service opportunities in your church and community. What matches your concerns and your gifts and talents? What makes you excited or what makes you weep?
- Talk to leaders and others in an area of ministry that interests you. Ask if you can accompany them as they are serving. Shadow them; observe how and why they do it.
- If you feel led at that point, ask if you can serve or lead in some way. Start small at first as you test the waters and build credibility when it comes to commitment and reliability.
- Always remain teachable! If you already know everything, then it’s time to just go be with Jesus! We will always have things to learn as long as we live.
- Know that you will make mistakes, but those are great learning opportunities. Give yourself grace and accept it from others when you fail.
Keep in mind that you may see a much better way to do the ministry. You may think you know more than they do, but don’t be too quick to criticize or suggest until you have had a chance to really experience the ministry and get to know those currently serving. Then you can suggest ways the ministry can be more effective.
If you try, but are rejected, do not stop seeking! Look for another opportunity where the door may be open. Remember, if you have to beat down the door, something is not right. Pray again and ask God to clarify His calling in your life. Ask Him to help you see the open doors He wants you to pursue.
Perhaps you are seeking a bigger platform. Remember that serving in the small things first is a great stepping stone to whatever God has next. He knows what it is and perhaps He has you in a place to learn some things before He shows you more responsibility. Be patient in the learning and serving process.
One of my favorite quotes is: “Why would you ask God to make you a lighthouse somewhere else when you can’t be a candle where you are?” (Anonymous). Serve right where He has you today, asking Him to open the opportunities to serve Him now and to be teachable as He prepares you for tomorrow!
Next week we will cover some important spiritual disciplines to grow in the spring time of life and ministry.