When I first started getting involved in ministry I had no idea what I was doing.
I started volunteering right around the same time that I had newly dedicated my life to Jesus and I definitely felt like a fish out of water. My heart had changed because of Jesus but I was still trying to figure out how to make my actions and my life match what I knew was different inside.
How was I supposed to go from someone who hated being around people and didn't like talking to someone who wanted a life specifically for serving people?
How was someone who was used to being cold and bitter going to be able to even be effective in ministry?
These were the questions I asked myself when I first felt Jesus calling me to ministry. I questioned and questioned, and with that started to doubt. I couldn't really be in ministry could I? I don't know how to be soft and kind. I don't know how to talk to people or love them. I didn't grow up receiving anything like that, and I was convinced there was no way that I would be able to ever do it.
The ministry that I started in was a kids ministry. I volunteered the first time at the last minute just because our church needed a little extra help, and I didn't think I would ever do it again. After that day, I served every week. I fell in love with the kids that day and I knew that was where God wanted me to serve. What I didn't know though was how to do kids ministry. I’m sure that all of you felt the same questions as me at least on some level when you started in ministry, whether it was for kids, youth, or adults. We think about saying the right thing, doing the right thing, if they’ll like us, if we’re going to make a difference at all. What I realized shortly after starting volunteering in that kids ministry was that I could be effective…but just like life, ministry is not a science.
We don't need to figure out the perfect thing to say. We don't need to analyze what exactly we can do to make them like us. We don't need to worry about if we are going to make a difference. We just need to love and amazing things will happen. We don't need to be scared that we won’t be able to live out changed lives because that is the power of God.
When we give up ourselves and ask God to work, He does. Every time.
What i finally realized about ministry was that it didn't matter who I was before, God was going to use who I was now. If I stepped up and started moving, God would show me which step to take. I didn't grow up in church or ministry, and I didn't grow up in a home that displayed a lot of love and care. What I started doing every week when I volunteered was give those kids what I would have loved to receive if I was a kid going to church on Sunday. I gave them attention, I played with them, I listened attentively to stories about school and hamsters and cats.
I made sure they knew that I cared about them and I got to tell them about Jesus.
Before that, I thought I didn't know how to “do ministry”, but I realized I’m here to be what I would have needed and the same is true for you. In your youth ministry, look at each and every face and see behind that. Remember that they each have a story and a home life that might not be easy, and then remember when you were a teenager. When you walk up to them, hold onto that and be for them what you needed when you were in their spot. In every interaction, if we do this I firmly believe that we will change lives. You might be new in ministry, or you might have been doing it for ten years. You might have no idea what to do, or you might have your ministry down to a 3 step list and science. Either way, my prayer is that you will serve unencumbered by memories of who you used to be.
It doesn't matter if you used to be terrible at talking to people (I’m right there with you!), or if you used to be mean or cynical or much of anything else. God’s redemptive power is incredible.
Because of Him, we can.
We can love even if we didn't know how to before.
We can make a difference in someones life.
We can be the women we needed for every person we encounter.
This realization changed my life, and today I hope you are encouraged by that thought as well. God can, and with Him you can. We can, ladies.
Titus 2:11-14 For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.