Monday, January 10, 2011

I'm sitting at my desk in tears. I just finished reading this article and the timing couldn't have been more appropriate. I've spent the last several weeks trying to sort out (again!) what my place and purpose in ministry and in the Kingdom is. I struggle with feeling out of place and out of sorts because of the expectations and assumptions around me.

Take today, for example. Our staff meeting consists of 3 of us - Lead Pastor, Worship Pastor and myself, the Associate Minister (previously known as the Children's Pastor. Add another aspect to the job description and, poof, a new title emerges). Because we don't have a building, we have needed to find another space to meet. Another large church in the area has allowed us some of their space. We were sitting having our meeting when a lady, who I assumed to be on staff, walked by. We chatted a bit about Journey, being a church plant in the area, etc and affirmed that this was, in fact, our staff meeting. She quite boldly went around the circle and named the positions she assumed to us and, of course, was right. Senior Pastor. Worship Pastor. Children's Pastor. Check.

Sometimes the truth hurts. I admit to being quite offended that, by a glance, she could assume that I am the Children's Pastor. While it's true, the assumption grates on me. Why did she assume that? I wasn't carrying a box of crayons - or any other children's ministry paraphanalia for that matter - with me anymore than our Worship Pastor was carrying his guitar. Was it because I was the only woman in the circle?

For years, I have struggled with the feeling that the only role available to me as a woman in ministry is in Children's Ministry. Now, don't get me wrong, I love the kids I serve and know that that role provides me a place to serve God and His Kingdom for now. That much is true without question. If you asked me, however, if I felt particularily passionate about Children's ministry over other ministries of the church or if I could see myself doing this for the rest of my life, I would have to answer no. Again, I love kids but the truth is, I love the church and, even more so, the Kingdom, more. It's because kids are part of the church and part of the kingdom that I do what I do. I hope I'm making sense here!

Kid's ministry is my way to serve the church and the kingdom for now but I feel like it's not entirely me most of the time. Get me in a room with a bunch of Children's Ministers and I feel entirely out of place. Put me in a room with church planters, coaches, strategic planners, and spiritual directors and I feel like I have something to offer the conversation.

I love to look at the big picture and strategically envision what potentials the Church has for doing the work of the Kingdom. I love to vision cast, define values and create strategy and structure to make those things a reality. I want to empower and encourage people to think far bigger than themselves and see that God is calling each and every one of us to something so much bigger than ourselves. It excites me when I see or hear about communities that are coming together to do that well. It inspires me to dive into the deeper truths of faith and to consider the impact they have on our lives and faith. It rocks my world to consider what would happen if we all truly lived out the grace of God in our lives and, because of the difference that has made in us, were to seek out ways to bring that grace to those around us. I want to be a part of that. I want to lead in that kind of a context. I want to dream up and initiate, as part of a team, something that would accomplish something so much bigger than myself. That, however, is typically not the place for a 30-something female.

And so I maintain. I get to - and I mean get to as it truly is a privilege - love on fantastic kids and share with them the love of Jesus. Still, there's a part of me that longs for, that hungers, for something more and resists the expectations and assumptions put on me because of some weird set of presuppositions years worth of tradition has created, assumptions that, at times, I, myself, buy into. I feel a little bit like a snake must feel just before it sheds its skin - like it fits just a bit too tight but not sure how to find relief or make positive change. There was a time I might have doubted God and wondered what on earth He was thinking to put this set of gifts and abilities in me. Now I doubt myself for not being able to discern the steps ahead.

So today, I'm praying for discernment and for clarity and freedom to become more of what God has made me to be.

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