“Why would you ever want to take on the challenge of leading a national women’s ministry organization? You should be thinking about ‘slowing down!” My caller was sincere in her question. She was calling to offer both her congratulations and share her own personal dilemma.
As the conversation continued, I learned that we had many similarities. We had been pastor’s wives, lived busy lives, had grown children, and were in fact discovering the wonderful world of being a ‘grandma.’ Added to our similarities, we were about the same age. She was ‘slowing down’ but seriously questioning her own lack of purpose at this strategic time in her life. In her own words, she was ‘nowhere.’
I feel like I’ve filled many roles in my life but I’m not sure that I’ve fulfilled my calling!
Her statement made me reflect on my own years in ministry, especially pastoral ministry. Although I deeply valued God’s call on my life, at times I battled an inner sense of being ‘boxed-in’. In Henry Nouwen’s words, I was “a prisoner of people’s expectations, and not liberated by divine promises.”
Women are naturally givers and multitaskers. They have an innate ability to juggle a number of roles and responsibilities at the same time. But busyness and stress are the harsh realities of our day, making our lives like balls in a pinball machine, moving in many directions, sometimes without a real sense of purpose and mission.
The dilemma women find themselves in today, is that they have come to believe that in filling their roles they are in fact fulfilling their calling. Women move from one role to another within the church context. They have landed and plateaued in a stage of development, never going beyond. The longer they stay in that place, the more they question their ability to reach higher. They build for themselves a ‘box’ and are afraid to step out of its confines. Latent ability lies dormant, and dreams to fulfill one’s calling are somewhere off the radar.
Roles change but our calling does not! God has a purpose, a plan , a specific mission for our lives and the development process to fulfill that mission will always be bigger than we are. Development means, we find ourselves in a constant learning curve!
Are roles valuable? Absolutely! Roles give us experience. Experiences are stepping-stones and will move us from the comfortable to new and exciting horizons.
At a vision-casting meeting with a group of women, a young mother who accepted the challenge of pastoring a small church made this profound statement describing her own leap of faith: “I don’t need to see the whole staircase to take the first step.”
In my own development as a leader, I have come to understand what Henry Blackaby expressed in his book: Experiencing God:
I have come to the place in life, that if the assignment I sense God is giving me is something that I know I can handle, then I know it probably is not from God. The kind of assignments God gives in the Bible are always God-sized. They are always beyond what people can do because He wants to demonstrate His power, strength, provision and transforming grace.
Are you feeling boxed-in, trapped, stressed…seeing beyond, but not knowing how to get there?
By faith, move forward. Take action steps. Trust God to lead. There is more in you than you know!
by Margaret Gibb