I can't recall when I got the call, but after a few years leading the Youth "choir" I received a call telling me I had been nominated to become a church elder. All I could think was "You want ME to do WHAT?" Seriously, this time the WHAT was my biggest hurdle. I am glad they told me to think about it before responding because I really needed to find out what an elder did before I committed.
I had recently stepped into another position with my Real Estate firm that was demanding even more attention. My sons were growing into busy teenagers and my husband's pharmacy position didn't allow much flexibility, so home life was just as busy. I didn't want to give up singing in the chancel choir or the new Women's Ensemble, but I knew in my heart God was asking me to step out and step up to this new leadership position. I'd learned from past experience if God wants it, then He'll see that it happens, so I figured it was OK to accept the nomination - let the church body decide for me.
And so they did.
I was later ordained with my class as an Elder in the Presbyterian church. As experienced elders whispered words of encouragement in my ear, I realized this was NOT about me, my conditions or my insecurities - it was about submitting myself to God and doing whatever He asked. I prayed silently and simply,
"What you want me to do, I'll do." And I did.
Then a month or so later during a Board of Elders meeting, I was helping word a job description for an Interim Children's Director. I suggested some specific educational jargon outing myself as an educator. A fellow Elder sitting across the table from me, immediately called me out by name... at first I thought I had spoken out of turn or something... but instead he locked eyes with me and said to the group, "Sounds like Lisa Burney should take this job." My first reaction was to duck under the table and hide. So I did. As I popped back up, all eyes were on me. To hide my own embarrassment, I went for a laugh with "What? And give up my day job?" After a little laughter, we moved on to finish the job description and I forgot all about the exchange.
The following Sunday I sat down in my seat in the choir loft - (second row, second seat from the center in the Soprano section, directly behind the pulpit) - to quickly skim the bulletin as the pastor began the sermon. The Interim Children's Director job posting caught my eye, so with a touch of pride, I decided to read what I had helped write.
As I read it, I heard God's voice inside my head say, "Little girl, I want you to do this."
My face immediately flushed red and I felt my body temperature rise with it. You see, when God calls me "little girl" I know it's Him. No one else has ever addressed me like that and every time I hear it, I know He means business, so I got quite still. He had my total attention right there in the choir loft.
In my head, I pleaded, "You want ME to do WHAT?" and waited.
No answer came. I only felt an overwhelming heat bearing down on me such that I had to fight the urge to flee the choir loft. I don't recall a word the pastor said that morning, for as I steamed I reread the job description over and over again... realizing my fellow Elder's earlier comment was either ironic or prophetic . All of a sudden, I saw myself in the job as described with a certainty I couldn't explain. All I knew was God was telling me this little girl should step out of a full time business and into an interim children's ministry position.
I couldn't believe I was even considering it, but I was not only considering it, I felt compelled to respond, immediately. After service was over, I sought out the Minister of Music, a most trusted friend and a full time staff member, to see what he thought. As we talked, I knew against all reason, I was going to apply immediately. We prayed together and when I opened my eyes, my husband was standing behind me. I cannot explain it, but when I told my husband what was happening, he was not surprised. Matter of fact, his knowing smile told me he already knew or had quickly figured it out.
So, I submitted my application to the church and a long list of conditions to God.
Yeah, you didn't really think I was going to simply submit to God's call, did you? Nope, I'm not a quick study when it comes to Godly decisions. At least I wasn't back then. No, I went for the biggest obstacle I could throw up - finances.
In my mind, I was sure the church couldn't pay me what our family needed to live, so I blithely proceeded through the interview process practicing my "Thank you for considering me, but I simply can't accept the position for financial reasons." speech. I even put a minimum number up to God as a condition without an ounce of shame.
I let it go so far I found myself sitting across a lunch table with the church executive director pushing a folded piece of paper across the table toward me. As a seasoned Real Estate Broker, I'd delivered and received offers with a practiced and professional poker face, but as I casually unfolded the paper and saw what God had done, I could barely hid my surprise. The offer was OVER the amount I had given God.
In shock and disbelief, I carefully re-read the figures and asked for clarification before hearing the words, "I would be honored to serve." Those words were coming out of my own mouth.
And as we closed with prayer, I promised God, "What you want me to do, I'll do."
And for the next 16 year, with joy and energy that could only come from God, I did!
Even today, after all the changes, struggles and challenges this Kidmin has been through and will go through, I do!
Many, many thanks go to the folks at Group and the Kidmin IT Team, who prayed us through Kidmin 2012 and are praying us into Kidmin 2013. I say, Bless you for inspiring me to revisit, and in doing so, restore and renew My Dream of Ministry for Children....
Mercy with Love
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