She gave this name to the LORD who spoke to her: "You are the God who sees me," for she said, "I have now seen the One who sees me."
—Genesis 16:13, NIV
I've felt destined for ministry for most of my life, but over the years, I've struggled to define exactly what that means. When I was younger, being "called to ministry" meant becoming a pastor. As a female growing up in very conservative churches that didn't recognize or utilize female's pastoral gifts, I assumed this calling would lead me into missionary work—something that seemed okay for girls to do. When I was diagnosed with colon cancer at age 17, I'm not sure what was more challenging: the physical struggle of cancer or the disappointment from assuming I couldn't fulfill my calling. No doctor was going to give me a green light to travel the world as a high-risk cancer patient.
Over the years, God has brought many helpful resources and people into my path to show me God's calling doesn't stop when we face adversity, and that God wants to use female leaders and cancer survivors in big ways. I've occasionally accepted leadership roles at church and read all kind of books about women and ministry. But if I'm being honest, I still struggle with confusion at times.
While I've got a new understanding of female roles, I still wonder what being "called into ministry" means. Is it a job? A formal role on church staff or at a Christian nonprofit? Does it mean marketplace ministry? Isn't everyone called into ministry—basically serving others—if they are following Jesus? These big questions don't often get quick answers. But recently, God gave me a big "a-ha" and then "woah, wow."
I was wrestling with these questions and happened to find a YouTube video called "What is ministry?" I watched the video, and then a different video with the same title popped up and played. After about ten minutes, I had watched several videos produced by various leaders, all of them were attempting to define ministry. It helped... a little. Yet I still wasn't fully satisfied. A few days later, I sat down with my journal and Bible. I needed a heart-to-heart with God. "Turn to Ephesians 4" I sensed Him say. As I opened my Bible to find the Scripture, I noticed something I'd scribbled in the margin 10 years prior next to verse 12. In my own writing, it said "What is ministry."
A smile broke out across my face, I'd forgotten all about the verse. As I read it, it was the most satisfying answer I'd heard all week—ministry is preparing God's people for works of service and building up the body of Christ. Simple. Powerful. Not only did the verse answer my question, it helped me encounter a beautiful side of God. When Hagar encountered God in the same way, she exclaimed, "You are the God who sees!" The God who made me had been watching and listening. This didn't only answer my question, it super-charged my faith.
- Are there any situations, issues or deep questions on your heart bringing you confusion or disappointment?
- Where can you go to be still so you can hear the voice of God?
- Do you believe God sees you right now—where you're at? Why or why not?
Father, I want to believe that you see me. Thank you that I don't go through life alone, even though I may feel like it sometimes. Will you help me find a time and place to be still and quiet so we can connect? I want to know you and understand who I'm meant to be. Amen.
MONDAY MORNING SURVIVAL GUIDE
Can I encourage you next week? Let's get through Monday mornings together.