Monday, October 16, 2006

Playing with a Full Deck

It was a good weekend. It was an interesting weekend. It was an exhausting weekend. It was a God weekend. (Oh come on, don't tune me out just cause I'm gonna talk about God. Bear with me and read the whole post, you might learn a little something about who I am... or at least who I'm trying to be.)

Friday night Tony and I attended a leadership conference at our church. It was appropriately titled the Jump conference and focused on the scripture in which Peter jumps out of the boat to walk on the water with Jesus. I've heard this passage used to teach a number of different lessons in the past (keep your eyes fixed on God, don't be afraid of life's storms, God is always with you, etc.) but this time the message was about listening to God and jumping at the opportunity to join Him. The night was really great and filled with energy (especially with an appearance by the Jesse White Tumblers - those kids rock!) but at one point I found myself fighting back tears. All this talk about God calling and here was me, unable to even remember the last time I really heard God's voice.

Sure, He's led me to some amazing things recently with serving opportunities in student ministry, helping on the setup team, and community development projects like teaching ESL (English as a Second Language) in East Aurora. But I started to wonder, am I doing too much? Am I spreading myself too thin? I know I've heard the theory repeatedly that taking on a "Jack of All Trades" mentality in ministry can lead to a proverbial "Master of None" result. And yet, that's not me. I have a passion and joy for every area that I'm involved in. Student Community is a way to impact a new generation and help young girls grow in the faith and confidence that I didn't find until my college years. Setup team is a way for me to connect with and serve my local congregation (plus it's very much an under-served, under-appreciated necessity - at 6 am on Sunday morning, you can see why the volunteers aren't pouring in). And the ESL classes are a great way to share my resources (extensive knowledge of English, minimal knowledge of Spanish, and a penchant for cookie baking) with those who can benefit from them.

So what does this mean for me as some sort of ministry profile? Do my multiple passions act against each other driving me towards inevitable burn out? Surprisingly, no. (Although as my disclaimer: taking thirty hours of classwork on top of this has made things a smidge more stressful.) I thrive on the variety. I could no more pick a single area to serve than a card shark could choose a single suit. Give me clubs, diamonds, spades and hearts - I don't want to play without a full deck. I love the opportunities available before me and not using various gifts and resources leaves me feeling hollow and bored. I mentioned earlier that I felt sad at not hearing God lately but I think my simple acknowledgement of that fact opened my eyes and ears to hear Him more. Yesterday morning in a message about focusing on being a Christ follower rather than being culturally Christian a verse jumped out at me that I memorized on the spot:
"I did not come to be served but to serve and to give my life away" ~Matthew 20:28
Maybe I'm crazy, but to me that was God speaking. Someone once told me that I was doing too much church and community service and I needed to get a life. What they didn't realize was that my purpose in doing so much is to try to give mine away.

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