Friday, March 20, 2015

Church: Hope for the Helpers Who Have Lost Their Sparkle

I fell in love on day one. The moment I walked out of my first MOPS (Mothers Of Preschoolers) meeting at church I felt complete again. Life was good before MOPS but something was missing. 

The missing piece of my puzzle was Church. By Church I don’t mean a building that I show up to on Sunday mornings for an hour. What I mean is being a part of a body of believers who work together to serve God, serve one another, love God, love one another, grow spiritually, learn, connect and spread the word of God to the ends of the earth. 

The day my son was born my life changed completely and so did my need for fellowship. I went from being a spiritual leader and counselor to needing someone to lead me. Motherhood was wonderful but I felt lost.  

I needed to connect with other Christian moms on a regular basis to be supported, encouraged and loved. I needed a place to laugh, cry, and be vulnerable. 

I got all of that on my very first day at MOPS.  I got all that, but it’s not all about me. We are called to serve. We all have talents. We all have something to offer. The church relies on everyone to lend a hand. MOPS is just one of the many women’s groups at my church but I knew it was where God was calling me.  Although I didn’t feel like I could fit anything else into my life at the time I knew God would help me figure it out. I made up my mind to serve the following year as a small group leader. 

Talking to people about God and leading groups was in my blood. I had done it in some way or fashion for most of my adult life. My husband and I met at a Bible study in college and I received my master’s degree in Christian Counseling. Serving as a small group leader at MOPS was a no brainer for me. This felt like the best position for me.
I was a little surprised the day that I got a text message asking if I could serve as hospitality coordinator instead. The leaders were in desperate need of filling this position and wanted to know if I could do it. I gladly accepted it; however, I was a little bummed. 

Hospitality felt insignificant.  I didn’t know how to coordinate food for 50 plus people.  I didn’t want to arrive early with my impatient toddler to make coffee and cut up muffins. I didn’t want to stay late with my toddler in melt down mode in order to clean silverware and coffee pots. If I was going to arrive early or stay late I wanted it to be for something significant. I wanted to talk about Jesus to as many women as I could. I wanted to be fully present with my small group and be used by God to speak and pray with moms.

I felt bad and dirty for having such feelings about serving in this new role. Who was I to want to turn down a position that was needed?  Who was I to say that any job within the church is insignificant? I prayed about my thoughts and feelings for quite some time. God really spoke to me one day when I read about a man named Stephen in Acts Chapters 6, and 7. 

Stephen was an amazing, smart, powerful leader in the early church who was known for being a good speaker and leader. “Men began to argue with Stephen, but they could not stand up against his wisdom or the Spirit by whom he spoke” (Acts 6:10).  

The early church found itself in a pickle when they started to grow in size. The 12 disciples and leaders were so focused on spreading the gospel that they were overlooking the other needs of the new church members: shelter and food. The disciples decided to appoint 7 men to be in charge of food distribution for the church so that no one would be left out and everyone would have their basic needs (food, clothing and shelter) met. Stephen stepped away from preaching to serve food because that is what the church needed. 

Stephen took this job seriously and gave every ounce of his being into serving God through this new position. Stephen ended up being the first person to die for his faith in Christ Jesus. His story is powerful and I encourage you to read it in Acts chapter 7. 

We can learn many life lessons from Stephen, but the one lesson that I learned about service is that every single job, position, and need within the church is significant and we are called by God to strive for excellence in whatever job is asked of us, no matter how small it is. Sometimes, God gives us assignments that may seem small, insignificant, or challenging because he is preparing us for something bigger. 

As soon as I changed the way I thought about this new area of service, everything changed. The position of hospitality was not the problem, I was. By the grace of God, my attitude and my outlook on service has changed and I have grown spiritually through this new position in ways I didn’t know where possible. I now love working in hospitality, and I do still get to have great conversation with women.

Serving God is never about us, but when we serve we get an even greater reward in return. This is because the closer we get to God, the more complete, satisfied, and joy filled we feel. The feelings and gifts we get from God are permanent. 

When we give all of ourselves to God and apart of ourselves to the church we are better able to live out God’s calling for our life. 

Some of us are called to missions, some of us our called to leadership, some of us are called to women’s ministries; others of us are called to children’s ministries. The church has an endless amount of needs. There are always people who are hungry for food, and there are always people who are hungry for Jesus. 

I don’t know what God has in store for my future or for yours, but what I do know is that if I can be half of the Godly person that Stephen was, then I am on the right track. Whether I am making coffee, putting stamps on envelops, covering Christmas cards with glitter, changing diapers in the church nursery, setting up tables, decorating a classroom, building houses in Haiti, praying over a hurting soul, organizing food, cleaning out storage closets, or speaking at a women’s retreat, I need to give it all I’ve got. Every job is important. 

I once heard someone say this: there are only two things that matter in life. Where you are going when you die, and who you are taking with you.

If you already know you’re going to Heaven, then your next assignment is bringing as many people as you can with you. The church as a whole is able to reach more people than you and I by ourselves. That is why the church needs YOU to serve in whatever way you can (big or small). 

If you are involved in any sort of service then THANK YOU. You are making a difference. 
Feel like you have lost your sparkle? Remember, God will provide everything that you need to get the job done, and rock at it. Who are you leaning on for support? Who is your inspiration? Why do you serve? God. God. God. He is the answer to it all.

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