In my first church as a pastor’s wife, I spent years trying to imitate the actions and activities of the former pastor’s wife. I led the same activities and met with the same people. Not only was I trying to find out who I was (I was only 22 at the time), but I was also trying to find my niche within the church body. After a while, I came to a realization:
The former pastor’s wife’s shoes are big (and uncomfortable) to wear.
I needed to be my own person, serving in ways that matched my unique gifts and talents. But finding out what that entailed was scarier than I thought.
We are all uniquely wired in that way. But it’s critical to fulfill our mission by serving within those gifts, even if it means taking on a new ministry. This may mean stepping out of our comfort zone.
How do you know what your calling is? And how should you use it in serving the church?
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1. Ask God what He wants for you.
I know this sounds obvious, but how many of us pray to ask God what He wants for our lives? Although it is commendable to want to jump into serve in our local church body, it’s best to guard your time and heart by waiting until you find the ministry that is right for you.
For example: I have many interests. I can sing well, I’m organized and a strong leader. But that doesn’t mean I should always fill a ministry slot simply because it’s vacant. I want to use my gifts in a way that fulfills me, not just one that gives me a position or a title.
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2. Identify your passions.
If you don’t know what your calling is, it might be best to first figure out what your passion is. If you don’t know what your passions are, ask yourself the following questions:
- What wakes you up in the morning?
- Where do you find your mind drifting to most often?
- Is there an area of life that makes your heart skip a beat when you think about it or work within it?
More than likely, there is a common thread woven through your responses. What you talk about most is also a good indicator that is where your passion lies. Does your church offer a ministry area that meets that passion?
- If your passion is kids, would children’s church or youth group best suited for you?
- If you enjoy teaching, consider teaching a Sunday school class or starting a Bible study.
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3. Take a spiritual gift inventory.
Ministry and passion start with an understanding (and embracing) of the way God has wired you. What are you good at? What are you not good at? There are many helpful tools out there to help discover your gift, but please understand spiritual gift inventories are not the ultimate authority.
If the ministry in which you want to serve doesn’t appear on your inventory, try it anyway. You may discover a new way God wants to use you.
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4. Ask for confirmation from trusted friends.
Are there people in your life whom you trust? Ask them to confirm where your gifts and talents lie. We might be convinced we know what our gifts are, but sometimes it takes another’s perspective to find out if that is truly where we could best spend our time.
Choose two to three people more spiritually mature than you to confirm or discover your gifts. If your friends can’t answer that question, perhaps a pastor or staff member can.
After you have taken the spiritual gifts inventory, discuss your results with your pastor. See if they can confirm those gifts in you based on what they know of you. Once your gifts are confirmed, ask if there are areas in the church in which you are best suited. You want to make sure you get this part right. There is nothing worse than stepping into the wrong ministry, only to have to let other team members down by having to quit. You and your team might suffer.
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5. Try out different ministries before committing.
Before you commit to a team fully, volunteer to work on task or event with them first. Watch how you interact. Do you work well together? Understanding where you fit in a team will pay dividends. This will help you better understand and work within your role. When you volunteer for a while first, expectations are made clear and there is less room for confusion.
6. Start something new.
If you enjoy creating things from nothing, maybe there is a new ministry your church has not created yet that you could start.
Maybe you will be the person to promote your church and place your church’s videos online for the world to enjoy.
Everyone has a place and purpose they are longing to fulfill. Once you have figured out what that is, it may be up to you to start the ministry.
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7. Think outside the box (or building).
Ministries don’t always have to be held in a church building. In fact, sometimes it’s better to gather at Starbucks instead because some people, who may have been hurt in the past by their church or who never grew up in a church, may not want to walk through the doors of a church. However, if they see a sign posted in a coffee shop (or another neutral atmosphere) about an event that is being held there, they may be more likely to want to come.
Consider moving a small group or Bible study to a space with comfy couches like Starbucks. Someone’s home could also ignite a more welcoming atmosphere. The location of the ministry we do may change, but we are still called to reach the lost.
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8. Be willing to leave your comfort zone.
A biblical example of working outside of our comfort zone is Caleb who, when it would have been time to retire, actually geared up for God to move him even more powerfully.
Joshua 14: 10-12 says:
“Just as the LORD promised, he has kept me alive for forty-five years, so here I am today, eighty-five years old!" "I am still as strong today as the day Moses sent me out; I'm just as vigorous to go out to battle now as I was then. Now give me this hill country that the LORD promised me that day."
As we age, trying new things may become scarier with each passing year. But Caleb was not afraid to take on a new adventure for the Lord. He understood who he was and that God would give him what he needed, even in his old age.
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9. Be ready for change.
As culture changes, so should the church. That goes for our ministries as well. What worked 20 years ago may not work now. The days of event-driven ministry have almost completely diminished due to ever increasing life demands and overbooked schedules. But just because an event ends doesn’t mean the ministry as a whole has to end.
For example: If your women’s ministry holds an annual event that in recent years has garnered low attendance, rethink your strategy. Could you hold an online small group that studies the same theme, just in a different format? An online forum allows a come and go atmosphere and spreads out weekly topics, as opposed to a full day commitment. This may still accomplish your mission while also accommodating people’s schedules.
Just because ministries change does not diminish your calling to serve in that ministry. It might just require rethinking your strategy.
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10. Don’t let fear hold you back.
Finding out where you fit in ministry can be daunting. And taking a leap into a new ministry that is beyond your normal activities can be overwhelming. But it doesn’t have to hold you back.
By understanding who you are and remembering Caleb’s example, you’ll want to take a leap into a ministry that may feel uncomfortable at first, but in the end fuels your passion and fulfills your calling in a way you never expected.
Michelle S. Lazurek is an award-winning author, speaker, pastor's wife and mother. Winner of the Golden Scroll Children's Book of the Year, the Enduring Light Silver Medal and the Maxwell Award, she is a member of the Christian Author's Network and the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association. She is also an associate literary agent with Wordwise Media Services. For more information, please visit her website at michellelazurek.com.
Originally published Friday, 19 October 2018.