Musing on Life in Ministry

The Lord’s been opening my eyes to so many things and I don’t always like what I see. I don’t like what I see in the world and I don’t like what I see in me.

One thing is for sure: a ministry position is not intended to stroke your ego or make you feel like your relationship with God is good enough. A ministry position is designed for you to serve until you feel you can’t handle giving any more pieces of yourself away, and then you realize that where you begin to take a step back for “me time” is where Christ took a step forward and died hanging on a cross.

I fall short. But I am redeemed by grace, and I think the Lord is showing me how much I fall short so that I can praise Him even louder, like in Luke 7:47

Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—as her great love has shown. But whoever has been forgiven little loves little.

I’ve determined my issue is that I am always selfishly thinking of me. I think much of my education and I take for granted my intelligence and my opportunities. Some people might call this white privilege, and I wouldn’t be inclined to disagree. Things were generally available to me while I was growing up. I had to work hard to prove myself and gain the opportunities, but very rarely do I feel I was ever set back due to my race or my gender or my socioeconomic status.

I fail to realize sometimes that others in my city, in my country, or all throughout the world are not given the same opportunity to thrive. When I listen to the international missionaries I serve at Orphanos, I am often taken aback by their stories. One man told me his life story this week, of his growing up an orphan in the Soviet Union. He was adopted by alcoholic and abusive parents who would beat him to the point of unconsciousness, so he ran away and opted to live on the streets of Russia for years. He was only a teenager, he was faced with more pain and hardships in one year than I have ever faced in my life. God rescued him and redeemed him, God healed him and set him on a path to go and help other orphans like him. Now he runs a ministry that helps orphans who have aged out of the system find housing, he helps young kids learn valuable life skills to someday have a hope of finding a job, and he helps unwed mothers with children learn how to care for their babies and themselves without the help of family. It is astounding what Jesus can do through broken vessels.

While I sit here in my first world housing on my first world computer and make jokes about first world cats with funny faces, I fail to consider that there are millions of others who struggle to put food on the table or find the faith to carry on with the hope that one day things will be okay. While I argue about whether women are awarded the same career opportunities as men in our country, I fail to think that in other cultures women are considered a joke and do not have the basic privileges that I myself take for granted. While I drive through “ghetto neighborhoods” in Memphis, very rarely do I think I have been profiled as a white lady to cause physical harm to another on the street, yet I fail to realize the young black man down the road has been profiled and lives daily with the expectation that others assume he will choose violence over love or even common decency. It’s not fair. None of this is fair, or just.

(Just to be clear, I am not saying it is immoral to browse Imgur or fruitless to talk about gender or race inequality in America; but I do wonder how often I personally am distracted by these things to the extent that I ignore bigger issues.)

I am privileged, I am blessed, I am whatever you want to call it. But the Lord has made me aware, slowly and painfully, that sitting back and doing the bare minimum while my fellow humans suffer is not acceptable. I know that focusing on my career trajectory, or planning my future family, or even thinking about the next car I have — these are thoughts of the future that millions do not even entertain in their own lives.

I seek for ways to serve, yet when I am given the opportunity I shy away because I am “too busy” or too tired from being too busy. It is hard to find that balance because so many things in my life appear to be blessings from the Lord, and it is my duty to follow through and see them to completion. I am starting to understand that there is no separation of “life and ministry”; that my life IS my ministry. It adds a lot of weight to my shoulders until I remember Jesus told me He would take that burden.

I am grateful for the opportunity to grow through ministry, as painful as it can be sometimes. For now I will do my best to live out the words of Micah 6:8

He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.
    And what does the Lord require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
    and to walk humbly with your God.

A note from the author:  I have been praying about an opportunity to visit La Aljaba, the children’s home in Colombia again. There is a missions trip going in March during my Spring Break, and it would be so wonderful if I could go again. This time I wouldn’t go as a completely naive and inexperienced gringo, I would go as someone who has relationships with the children and the staff, someone who has grown exponentially during my ministry with Orphanos, understanding the perspective of the world outside of me a little bit better. I would be so grateful and honored if you would consider supporting me to get back to Colombia to serve these orphans and vulnerable children. Any amount you give is a huge help. I need to raise about $2,000 for my plane ticket and expenses. If 20 people gave $25, that’s 25% of my fundraising goal right there. Give now.

If you would like to partner in prayer, please follow along with my blog by adding your name to the email list on the side! Thank you so much.

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