At the end of my freshman year of college, I applied for a leadership position in the campus ministry I’d been a part of all year. I wasn’t sure what area would be the best fit, but I figured I could probably lead a small group or be part of the event-planning committee. Instead, I was asked to be part of the technology team, running sound equipment and creating videos with less-than-state-of-the-art equipment.
I couldn’t believe it! Clearly when the people making decisions sat down to assign roles, they ended up with my name and an opening on the tech team and decided that would be good enough. I couldn’t imagine anyone in charge really knew me and came to the conclusion that I should be the one taking a stack of VHS tapes to the library to manually edit them into a promotional video!
Spoiler alert: As it turns out, using technology has played a large part in every part of my career and ministry since then.
Several years later, when my husband and I joined five other couples to plant a new church in our community, we decided that each couple would focus on one specific ministry area. We were certain we’d be assigned discipleship — we loved all things small group related! But no. My husband and I were told that we’d be heading up the Fellowship Ministry, teaching our first church members about community and planning the monthly potlucks.
Again, I was so shocked and so hurt! I could do more than plan a potluck! I wanted to do something more important! More valuable! More . . . impressive.
I can’t even pretend that this is a spoiler, because I’m sure you’ve guessed already. Yes, as it turns out, fellowship (and community and even hospitality) is something that’s become incredibly meaningful to me over the years.
Over the years, God has used this pattern to teach me a few things. First, He knows me better than I know myself. Second, even if nobody else knows me, God does, and His plans for me will not fail. Third, the gifts and ministries I consider the least important can be quite significant when I obey and surrender to His will.
At the beginning of this year, I felt that God was laying a big dream on my heart. I had recognized a need in myself and in my community, and He brought to mind a plan for addressing it. By early March, I had a partner and we had a plan. And then . . . well, you know.
The world stopped turning there for a while, and all my great plans fell apart. Even my medium plans fell apart, if you want to know the truth, and I haven’t yet recovered a single one. I’m drowning in extra responsibilities and “unprecedented” anxiety, and a productive day is one where everyone in my house is fed and reasonably clean. My days and my mind don’t have room for extra projects right now. My schedule refuses to allow me the space for big dreams and big callings.
And yet, not everything is out of my control. There are still some things I can choose and can do. This is why, when life came to a screeching halt this spring, I started writing notes each week.
Every week since my kids didn’t return to school from spring break, I’ve sat down with a stack of note cards and stamps, and I’ve written notes. Updates on life for those I can’t easily text. Check-ins with long-distance friends. Encouragement for those struggling so much more than me — reminders that they’re not alone and that we will make it through this season.
It doesn’t take long. It’s such a small thing. I rarely hear back from anyone I write to. But, thankfully, I don’t need a spoiler or hindsight to know that God is using this unlikely calling to minister to people — including me. It does my heart good to reach out, to think of others, to make this small action a habit.
All the personality, spiritual gifts, and strength-finding tests in the world have never revealed to me the most significant (and sometimes sneaky) ways God has used me to love His people. These unlikely callings have taken me by surprise over and over again, and I’m finally seeing the blessing in them.
For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.
Ephesians 2:10 (NLT)
What unlikely or surprising way has God used you to make a difference? Could He be inviting you into something like that right now?
Leave a Comment
Dawn Ferguson-Little says
God knows us inside out. In fact he knows us better than we know ourselves. Do ever get disappointed. You do something nice for a favourite person in your family member. For their special Birthday etc. You post it in the post days in advance before their Birthday first class. It should have arrived by now no sign of it. Your heart sinks wondering why it not arrived. You wanted to surprise them. It like that with me with my Favourite Aunt. I waiting on a present to land for her Birthday. Why it not arrived yet. I sent it good time. I took my time picking it for her. Saying she my favourite Aunt. This is special Birthday for her. I posted it first class. I feel God speaking to me through it. All his suprise blessings he gives us that we sometimes have to
sometimes wait to get them from him. But in the end it is worth the wait. So we can then pass on to others. But the wait is worth it When we get them from God to be able to pass them on to others. But like me over this Special Birthday gift for my Aunt for her special Birthday that should have been with her days ago. Saying I sent it first class. We as followers of Jesus are not good at waiting. Sometimes God makes us wait. As in that waiting it teaches us patiance. Sometimes that is good for us We are not good at waiting. God shower us with his blessings everyday. So we can shower them on to others. Thank you Mary for another excellent reading. Love all incourage readings they do so much bless me. Love Dawn Ferguson-Little xx
Mary Carver says
You’re so right, Dawn. It’s hard to wait! But He will teach us. Thank you for sharing your story and heart with us today.
Michele Morin says
Mary, I love that you described God as sneaky. So blessedly true!
Mary Carver says
Haha! I meant it in the nicest, most respectful way, of course! 🙂
Keri Boer says
When I was in college and grad school, I KNEW my calling was to be a therapist. Maybe even writing a book and giving talks around the country. After a few years of pursuing this calling, I became exhausted and burned out. I quit my job and took an office position in college enrollment. I was interacting with people but not in what I thought was “meaningful” ways. I spent years switching jobs at the college, struggling emotionally because these jobs seemed to “easy” and weren’t what I believed I was “called” to do and didn’t require the level of education I had attained. But they were obviously the doors the Lord wanted me to walk through so I obeyed. Now I am a college counselor at my daughter’s school. It is the PERFECT job that uses my skills, training, and all of the seemingly disparate experiences that I had over the years. I couldn’t understand the journey at the time, but now I get the chance to see how it has all been pulled together by the Lord for this time. We don’t often get to see the full picture this side of heaven; this is just a gift to help me and others trust that He is at work even when we can’t see it.
Mary Carver says
Keri, I love that God has shown you how He’s been weaving together the threads of your career to bring you to this exactly right place. What a gift!
Nomusa Mguni-Mhlanga says
A business venture I have been working on is on the verge of a big operational change. I am figuring out which way to turn. Meantime God has opened opportunity for me to facilitate online Bible study for my church and I am working on launching my first book. In all this cocktail of happenings, I am certain that a new thing and a new role for me is about to come out of everything even though it is not crystal clear to me yet.
Bev @ Walking Well With God says
When God interrupted MY life plans and called me to start a Christian school in a hotbed of evil in the Middle East, I flat out told Him He was crazy. I knew absolutely zippo about global missions, non-profit management, or even how to find square one. I think God can be purposefully sneaky in calling us to something that is not in our “wheelhouse” of experience. We are literally forced to learn to utterly rely and depend upon Him. I know what I can manage somewhat on my own, but I’ve had to learn what I can only do it in God’s strength. He keeps stretching those trust muscles. Great post!
Mary Carver says
Bev, that’s such a great point. If God let us do what we think we’re good at or suited for, we wouldn’t understand how desperately we need Him.
I am a college freshman right now and this was really encouraging. I’m undecided in my major right now! I’ve talked to so many people about it! And I’ve taken so many “quizzes” and I’m just uncertain. I understand what you mean by wanting to do something very “meaningful” because I feel the exact same way. I want to do something big. Thank you for this!
Mary Carver says
MM, I’m praying for you right now, that you’d hear God’s direction as you make choices about your future and that while you wait for that direction, you’d feel peace knowing that He does have a good plan for you! I’ve had to deconstruct and recalibrate my understanding of what “big” and “meaningful” mean so many times over the years. I still struggle with understanding why He’s called me to this kind of meaningful and not what I imagined, but I trust that He has reasons that go far beyond my own wisdom. Praying for you this morning!
I’m praying for you as well! I’m praying for the Holy Spirit to whisper to your heart and lead and guide you in a way that only He can. I hear Him saying, Let Faith Arise and Only Believe!! This is hard in the waiting, believe me I know, but it’s so worth it. You get closer to Jesus and you know that in the waiting He is in control of your life. Just submit everything to Him. He won’t disappoint I promise!! He’s so good all the time!! He will carry you!! God Bless!!
Beth Williams says
Asking God to send you clear guidance as to the path He has laid out for you. Make a list of things you enjoy doing & see if they could make a good career fit. I have done several different career types from office to medical & now ICU Step down clerical combining the two. Take time to investigate each career you’re thinking about. Talk with the Career Placement Office at your school. They have many resources to help you. May you feel God’s presence & have a peace while you wait.
Patricia Floyd says
Thank you so much for these words. I really need it. More than as anything I needed the scripture, Ephesians 2:10. Searching for God’s will can be difficult when we allow Him to do what’s best for His purpose. What a blessing to be used for His purpose.
8 years ago, my son died unexpectedly and 5 1/2 months after that, my husband died unexpectedly. Who would have ever thought that 3 years later God would send me into the Funeral and Bereavement Ministry at my church! At first I seemed to cry more than the families who had lost someone which sent me to my priest stating that I didn’t think this was the ministry for me. He said to stay with it because I would find healing in what I was doing, and he proved to be so right. Of course, God knew where I belonged and how I could serve Him and the people in my parish. I feel so blessed to be able to help people plan the funerals for their loved ones.
Beth Williams says
God needs all of us in various tasks. We can’t all be leaders or teachers. It takes the whole body working together to accomplish God’s goals. This year I stepped out & took part in a FB video talking about why I relay. Also was the recognition chair & helped raise around $10K for our small community. Did more than just be a part of a team. Next year I plan on helping to raise even more money.
God planted encouragement & assistance into my DNA. I constantly thank co-workers on my floor (hospital) from cleaners, dietary to CNAs. We all work hard together to make patient experience a good one. Also he constantly brings people to mind. In that respect I text, email, snail mail cards & letters checking in on people & making sure they know they aren’t alone. Made chicken pot pie & bread for pastor & his wife one week as they were going to move her mom down here. Have made bread for people dealing with aging parents illnesses. Love shining God’s light & doing what I can whenever I can as often as I can for as many as I can.
This really ministered to me. Thank you for sharing this!
Wemi Omotosho says
“God knows me better than I know myself” and
“the gifts and ministries I consider the least important can be quite significant when I obey and surrender to His will”. Yep – I’ve found this to be true also. These days, I try to be more open minded (not easy) because more often than not God has something up His sleeve.