Being in public ministry is not for the faint at heart. That said, I am the Queen of the “faint at heart”. I don’t like criticisms, rejections or judgements. I don’t like scrutiny about my motives, words or life. Public ministry affords me all of those challenges and more. So why allow your life and heart to be put on public display? Because some people are called by God to do so. I am one of those.
In the earlier part of life and ministry I did not want anyone knowing the “real” me. I subconsciously hid her because she was not perfect and polished. I believed that being a good Christian woman meant being good, period. Though I had good days, I wasn’t always good. Thus began the dance of hiding, pretending, posing.
My life fell apart in the late 80’s. Divorced and licking the wounds of rejection and disillusionment, I hit bottom. As God began to lift me up out of the pit of depression and despair, he also made something very clear to me. He was calling me back into ministry, that call had actually never been lifted, but that call required me being “real” and living my life as an open book. Ugh! Being I was struggling with a new blended family, I just pushed the thought away. My life was messy so I must have not been hearing from God. To think that God intended to use the messy people among us didn’t make sense to me.
Time and again the call kept whispering vision and desire into my heart. I knew, very clearly, that if I went back into ministry it could not be a place of hiding, pretending or posing. I knew that for me, answering God’s call to ministry would mean humble obedience to His dance, not mine. I have not wanted to be public, be open, use my circumstances to help others. I have not wanted to go through experience after experience, test after test. I just wanted a blessed life.
Today I am blessed. I have circumstances that challenge me just like everyone else. I have bad days and good days. It’s just that when the days are bad, I am digging for meaning because that is how God wired me for His call on my life. The biggest thing that has happened to advance this call, is to go through a terrible circumstance over the past few years that brought me straight into the arms of Jesus. There were times I felt I lost nearly all that I held close. As God dried my tears, I began realizing that the People Pleaser in me had to literally be driven out by the fire of extreme hurt and disapproval. I now understand why Paul said, “Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ.” Galatians 1:10 As long as we our eyes are fixed on people and what they think, we will not care enough about what God thinks. The God who knows our hearts, wants our hearts, our lives, and our surrender to His call.
God keeps calling me to say Yes to things that are not understood by people. And, as I say Yes, with a cringe and a hope that I am hearing right….I experience God at new levels. I still experience disapproval from time to time as well. When public ministry is your call, you must understand that criticism and disapproval are part of the territory. You must learn to live in the moment with The Father. You must learn to be sensitive to His Holy Spirit, and you must learn to say YES even when it costs you things that you hold dear to your heart.
Public ministry and it’s challenges does not give us the freedom to: Payback for the hurt others unknowingly caused us, judge others as we are sometimes judged, withold love from others or hide in a pity part of insecurity. It is not freedom to gossip about those who are gossiping about us, being unkind because we have been misunderstood, or thinking we are better because of the call to ministry. A call to ministry is a call to serve. It is a call to humility. It is a call to learn through your sufferings. It is a call to stand firm in your victories. It is a call to love wholeheartedly , even if you are not loved in return. Can you learn to committ all of that to God for the purpose of furthering His Kingdom? I think you can. I think I can. And, I think we can because we can do all things through Christ who gives us the strength and grace to answer His call.
Often we will minister to others from our own place of pain and brokenness. We won’t have all the answers, but as we lean into Jesus He keeps providing all that we need to be an encouragement to others.If we wait until we have it all figured out, we will be waiting forever. In the meantime, people are suffering, discouraged and in need of courage to move forward. If God has called you to public ministry that call is for the now. You might be faint at heart, but God can strengthen your heart. You might still be struggling yourself, but out of your own victory in Christ you will help others find theirs. If you have said YES to the call, then you must now embrace the fact that God no longer wants you to fear disapproval. He will teach you how to listen to the voice of His Holy Spirit within you. And, as He invites you to His plan, you will be able to follow if fear of opinion is not your stumbling block.
We were never meant to be a shining example, brilliant within ourselves. God calls the ordinary to do the extraordinary through.
May God bless you as you say Yes to His call on your life!