About five years ago, I received a call. Pastor Filipe asked me if I had some time to help him follow up with a few people for life groups. Even though at that time, I did not think much of it, I now see that moment as one of the most important divine interventions of my life. I know it might sound absurd and exaggerated. How can a simple call spring me to a different spiritual level? That call was just the first of many steps and many more calls (from His people and God’s whisper) for the years to follow. At that time, I had every excuse to not answer the call. I had two young kids, ages 20 months and 5 months. I had a part-time managerial position at a high-tech company. Most importantly, my younger one had a lot of appointments due to a medical condition he was born with. I had no desire to take on more in my life. And I certainly didn’t have any formal training on how to do what we like to call “ministry.” But bless Filipe’s heart, he gave me an awesome opportunity to run with something big (and I do feel super humble about that even to this day). Shortly after that call, I started to take more ownership of the life group area and with God’s grace and many wonderful volunteers, the life group ministry grew tremendously and continues to do so under Pastor Tim’s leadership. Nowadays, I am part of another team working on various projects related to new believers, the volunteer experience, and leadership development. I am still humbled by the fact that I get to do this.
Five years ago, I was on the receiving end of that call, but today I’m often the one making the calls looking for new leadership. Sometimes I get a sense from God that I should reach out to a specific person and challenge him/her to a whole new level. Some have fully embraced new roles. Some have said “no.” My deepest desire is for them to not miss out if the answer should be “yes.”
I share this back story, frankly, out of some form of frustration. God wants to use all of us for His purposes and yet the enemy likes to feed us lies…We are not good enough to do more. We are tired and we are not good moms. We have too much on our plates. Meanwhile, what we should actually be asking ourselves is: Did I ask God to give me more strength to endure another day for His Kingdom? Did I seek Him thoroughly on where I should be?
I am not going to lie to you – doing more than getting out of bed (or even just getting out of bed for me) does take some discipline. There will be some late nights and sacrifices. Sometimes you might mess up by either doing too much or doing too little. (Discernment and wisdom are in my prayers ALL THE TIME). As woman, we might feel guilty either way. (I know I am right there with you, girl!) Thankfully, there is always grace and forgiveness. I had a season where I totally burned out. Last year, I had four deadlines all in one week while my husband was in New Zealand celebrating his mom’s 70th birthday. I totally broke down and felt like Mrs. Walking Dead. Yes, discernment. Other times, I’ve had so much time on my hands I was running out of TV shows to watch.
Recently, I had the pleasure of reading Francis and Lisa Chan’s book You and Me Forever and I feel super convicted and comforted to know that we need to live our lives and build our marriages in light of eternity. Sometimes, we have to miss a soccer game. Maybe we have to let the “Fresh Off the Boat” episodes wait in the Tivo for a month (okay, maybe just a couple of weeks at the most). We may not go to all of our kids’ friends’ birthday parties. And it’s okay to not wash our kids’ sheets that are sent home from daycare every weekend (just happened this morning).
As I’ve been seeking the balance of serving, family and professional development, here is what I’ve learned:
• Pray and read the Bible. This may seem cliché, but it truly is the most important. Despite all the callings you are fulfilling, they are worthless if you are not one with God. It sounds simple, but sometimes you may not even have 5 minutes to yourself to do the “you know what” in the bathroom without some kid running in. Set your day right and take the very first minutes of your day to be in His presence.
• Enlist your better half’s buy-in. I am super blessed with David for his full support in what I do in my ministry and professional life. That dude is amazing in filling in the gaps when I have to host a meeting or stay late to finish cleaning up after a church event. God gives you the freedom to share your desire in how He wants to use you with your husband. Don’t hold back. Ask your partner in crime – I mean partner in ministry – to help you. Maybe it’s to take the kids out to the park so you can have an hour of focus time to prepare for something. When you are done with serving, you will feel fulfilled. When your cup is full, it will overflow to your marriage. Oh, and please don’t forget regular date nights.
• If you have children, I have a couple of tips. It is definitely a fine balance. When your children are at the age of understanding things, you have to explain “why” you are doing what you are doing. (It is like a mini vision cast, good practice before the older audience.) In this type of entitlement culture, I like to continue to remind my own children, it is not about them sometimes. They are called to serve also. Get them involved. My middle one set up for my life group meeting every Wednesday. We have some great families at South Bay who serve together as a family. I LOVE IT! I want to grow up to be like them! David and I never want our kids to hate church and hate God so it is definitely a fine balance to continue to refine our “strategies.” (For example, I serve more during the week and David is fully booked on Sundays). In certain occasions, we have to rely on family, friends and babysitters. I will say it now in case there is any doubt: It is okay to occasionally hire a sitter to help with the children so you can serve! The $10/hour sitter fee equals many heavenly jewels.
• It is never easy to serve alone so make sure you maintain some extended family and girly times. Enlist the dear ladies in your life to pray for you and your area of ministry. Ask them to pray for wisdom and discernment as you journey on.
I have more points to share but it has to be in another post. For some of you, you fill your bucket differently. In one of the recent leadership meetings, Pastor Andy challenged the leaders to write a few things that fill our buckets. What are the few things that energize and renew you?
So in conclusion, who is calling you today? If no one is – message me your number and I will give you a ring!