A Note from Kelly King: Many women believe being a women’s ministry leader is all about Bible studies and events. While those are important, many times your calling in ministry means working with women who are hurting—the messy. In her ongoing series, Ministering in the Messy, Dr. Deb Douglas (First Baptist Church, Bossier City, LA) gives leaders a plan for raising up other women to minister to women dealing with messy lives.
Not everyone is called to the messy.
Not everyone is called to ministry.
Being called to ministry may sound sexy and glamorous, but that’s a fairy tale. The reality is ministry is sometimes messy. Some people are called to ministry. Some are called to messy ministry—the ministry that’s not fun events, Bible studies, and taking a little New Testament to moms of newborns. Messy ministry involves tears, visits to the jail, going to a more questionable side of town, traumatic divorces, complicated relationships, addictions, mental illness, emotional scares, abuse, and sin. Messy ministry is complicated and full of drama and trauma. But that is where some of us are called to serve.
All ministry calls are challenging.
Here are some things to know about being called:
- Everyone is called.
- Having a call does not mean we are going to be employed by a church or a para-church organization.
- Having a call does not mean we will get a paycheck for fulfilling that call.
- Having a call and following it requires sacrifice.
- Volunteer, part-time, or full-time calls are all important to the work of the church.
- A call does not equal being equipped. Yes, God gives us the gifts and talents we need to serve, but we do not automatically get zapped with all the knowledge—biblical and practical—that we will need when ministering in the messy. Get equipped!
- Go to seminars, conferences, and workshops.
- Take seminary classes. Many are available online on certificate and graduate levels.
- Try interning or job shadowing a minister.
- Be patient. You do not have to fulfill the call in one day! You have a lifetime to serve.
- Having a call to full-time ministry is hard. Think a lot of hours, low pay, and constant challenges.
- If God is calling you into full-time ministry, running from that is miserable. The call will always be on your mind, and you cannot get away from it. God will continue to pursue you.
- Comparing one person’s call to another’s will drive you insane. At times, it is frustrating when it seems that everyone around us has a glamorous, fun call and our call seems to be messy or small. That’s not how God’s call works.
- Everyone’s call plays a part in the mosaic of God at work.
- You do not know the future impact of what you do.
- You do not know everything that goes on in the lives of others: the problems they face, the challenges and struggles they encounter, or the messiness resulting from their personal situations.
- Other leaders may make more money, draw bigger crowds, or seem more booked causing little pangs of jealousy to stir in your heart. Your success is not measured by those things but by your obedience in following Christ where He leads. Jealousy is a distraction that will easily destroy your ability to fulfill the call.
When I met my husband Paul, I had a secret fear that God would call him to be a pastor. Finally, Paul asked why I feared it so. “Because I have no tact, and I’d get you fired!” Paul explained that God’s call for him was to make a difference as an engineer. That was 38 years ago, and it has been amazing to watch how God has used Paul. And of course, in God’s sense of humor, He called me into full-time ministry. I still have very little tact!
For more help and resources on ministering in the messy, check out Women Reaching Women in Crisis and Steps: Gospel-Centered Recovery or refer to the other articles in the Hurting Women or Ministering in the Messy categories.
Dr. Deb Douglas has served in women’s ministry for over 37 years. Now she spends her time working with Purchased Ministry, a ministry to women in the sex trade industry. Deb is also the Director of Biblical Counseling at First Baptist Church, Bossier City, LA. She was the first to graduate from New Orleans Baptist Theological seminary with a Masters degree focusing on women’s ministry and has earned a Doctor of Education in Ministry degree from NOBTS. She is “Pearl” to 3 sweet grand babies, “Mom” to Jared Douglas and Katie Chavis, and wife/sweetheart to Paul Douglas.