My husband, Dave, and I have worked with young people in youth ministry for many years, in fact, twenty years or so. We have loved it. There seemed to be a natural connection and many of the relationships with the teens have lasted to this present day. Even when we took a break from youth ministry, twice God led us back into it. Because of multiple moves, my family has attended several different churches. Some were in great need of helpers; others not as much. But, if you had a gifting, particularly with teens, usually that was welcome in any church. Okay, now fast forward to a few years ago. There were some changes in the plans for our church's youth ministry and all of the helpers were released to other areas of service. When my husband first broke this news to me, well, I would like to tell you that I was the picture of a mature Christian woman. But, I wasn't. After my sob-fest (which my husband quietly allowed me to have), Dave gently asked me, "When did this become about you?" Whoa. Shot to the heart. But, he was right in asking me that question. After some soul-searching and pleading with God to humble my heart, I was able to embrace this change with a trust that God was leading this plan wisely. Here's a verse that really comforted and challenged me:
Even so you, since you are zealous for spiritual gifts, let it be for the edification of the church that you seek to excel. 1 Corinthians 14: 12
Realizing that any spiritual gifting (this includes ministering to teens, of course) that God had given me was for the church, not for myself, I was freed from hanging on to "my ministry" and was able to encourage the new leadership and move on to whatever God had next for me to do in His Kingdom.
Since assuming leadership in another area, I have been made more aware of the understanding and bigger picture that church leadership has. They have a vision and they have knowledge that many of us don't have because of the scope of their ministries. With that weighty burden of shepherding the Body, the leaders and pastors see where certain gifts are best placed and where others need to be changed. This is such a picture of God's sovereignty to me. I think most of us, regardless of our particular theology, want to agree readily to God being sovereign--the biggest, the highest, the One who knows all, right? Yet, how does this play out in real life? In my situation where I had allowed youth ministry to become my gig, I couldn't see that perhaps there was something better down the way. (This "better" might be for us, but it is really about the Body, remember) I thought I knew what would be best, how my gifts would be used best, how my plan was better. But, I could only see part of the big picture.
If you have children, you may know what I mean because often our children don't see or can't know the bigger picture. My son wants to eat a Klondike bar right before dinner because he is hungry NOW. Yet, the bigger picture is that I have planned and prepared a healthy meal for him already. It may take some waiting and self-control, but he will be cared for properly and in due time. Or, my daughter wants to imagine and twirl and sing and just doesn't understand when I insist that she come closer to the house because she is moving toward the busy street. She is in the here and now and doesn't realize there's something bigger out there--like a truck barreling down the way.
Serve gloriously, friends! Use those talents and gifts that God has given you. But, believe that God is sovereign and live accordingly. His plan is bigger and better--He sees the overall picture and whether it be our gifts in service or whether it be the hard trial that He gives us, live knowing that our In-Control God, our sovereign God, has ordained the whole thing and we are only catching a glimpse of the here and now. This helps us to hold everything loosely and be grateful for what we have been given for the time we have been given it.