Originally published Tuesday, 14 May 2013.
Okay, you finally have it - your purpose in life, that thing God has called you to do on this earth! You are beyond excited. You cannot wait to start this new ministry, outreach, group, or Sunday School class at your church. You cannot wait to bring the masses to the Lord through your efforts. You schedule your meeting with the necessary "higher-ups" of the church, be it the pastor, assistant pastor, or volunteer coordinator. You cast your vision, share your ideas, and wait for the shared excitement, cheers, and handclaps. And then, it happens. Silence. Blank stares. A let-us-think-about-it response.
What do you mean 'let me think about it'?! I mean, God has spoken. You leave the meeting frustrated and confused. As time passes (and silence persists), you may even get a little angry. How dare they not want to reach the poor, the single mom, the disabled, the grieving (whatever your people group may be)!
I, too, was once in your shoes. I remember the moment God whispered to my heart to minister to single moms in some way. I actually ran from the calling on my life for ten years. Not me, God. I'm not good enough, smart enough, or equipped enough. After I finally embraced my calling and relinquished my fears to God, I was beyond excited to get started. I sat down with my pastoral team and thought we would launch our single parent program the following week. Weeks passed. Months passed. A year passed. Time made me all the more angry. Single moms are struggling, Lord. Why don't they get it?, I often prayed. It was during this prayer time that the Lord spoke to my heart with my answer, "Because you get it!" It was in that moment that God reminded me that his timing was perfect and I should be a graceful and patient "waiter". Today, I am happy to report that we did launch that single moms' program and it has grown to be one of the largest in the nation. But, I learned a great deal while in the wait.
No doubt about it. The wait is challenging, but here are a few tips to help you navigate gaining support gracefully and patiently.
- Your passion is God-given. Because you've walked through the journey, God has moved you with compassion to minister to others in similar situations. Doors will eventually open. Just watch and see how God moves mountains for those He loves.
- Pastors are busy. They are stretched in hundreds of directions. Give him time to marinate on your new idea. Give him time to pray and solicit God's direction. Give him time to even process the request. (It's probably the 30th meeting he had this week).
- Pray for your leaders. Don't get angry, bitter, or frustrated. Pray and wait. Wait and pray. Don't kill your witness by being an anxious, pushy "waiter".
- Educate your pastoral team on the statistics that affect your particular people group, but do so lovingly and respectfully.
- "Not now" does not mean "no." Again, it sometimes takes time.
- Don't give up. The Holy Spirit does the work you could never do.
Jennifer Maggio is an award-winning author and speaker who travels the country sharing her personal story of homelessness, abuse, and teen pregnancy. She is founder of the global nonprofit, The Life of a Single Mom, and has appeared on countless radio and television programs. For more information, visit http://www.jennifermaggio.com.