I had a great conversation with a parent in our ministry today. We spoke about an inquiry I had made regarding her potential involvement in youth ministry as a small group leader. She had been praying about this subject for a few weeks and finally felt it was time to share with me what God was saying to her regarding youth ministry. She mentioned that as much as she loves students and values what God is using us as a ministry (Centre Street Church Youth Ministries) to do with this generation, God is calling her to invest herself in another area of ministry.
This was the third in a series of a similar type of conversations I have had with another prospective leaders in youth ministries over the last month or so. Often times we only celebrate the moments when our leadership vacancies are filled and we forget to stop and thank God for the moments when they aren't. If any of these three individuals had responded to our inquiries to serve in youth ministries, they would have been disobedient to what God has called them to. Please don't misunderstand me, each of these three individuals shows a high capacity of giftedness and passion in the area of youth ministry, but the question of commitment is never about giftedness or passion alone, it's also about calling.
Far too often have we undervalued the notion of God's calling in every avenue of our lives. I had a friend who served in children's ministry in a local church. This friend of mine was gifted as a leader and had a passion to do so, but was not called to work in children's ministry. I watched my friend's desire and joy for life and ministry fade over the years as they chose to answer the "call" of the pastor rather than the call of God in their life. This might sound like a far fetched type of story, but haven't we all done that at some point in our lives? Maybe we've stepped up to the plate to work through an issue or resolve a conflict because we can or we were present at the time and we may never have stopped to ask whether or not God was leading us to respond to what we were seeing and experiencing at the time.
I'm reminded of a story regarding the Israelites' attempt to inherit the promised land after escaping slavery in Egypt. After wandering in the desert for 40 years, the nation of Israel was finally ready to answer God's call on their lives by responding in obedience to Him. They began to take the promised land by force, following God's call and prompting as they did so. After they tasted success however, the habits of disobedience began to creep into their lives. Instead of finishing the task that God had asked them to, the nation of Israel began to make concessions in their obedience to God. The people began to justify their partial obedience to God as we all seem to do at one point in time or another. The result of their choices is something that still haunts the nation of Israel to this day...they are at war with their neighbors.
The Christian band Mercy Me wrote a song entitled Where You Lead Me, I will Follow. I thought this was an appropriate title for this blog because it sums of the simplicity of complexity that is obedience to Christ. Celebrate the moments in your life and in others when we respond to Christ through obedience, nothing more and nothing less. Obedience is the only way we can demonstrate to God and to others that our love is real, authentic and alive.