We’ve done a lot of things as pastor’s wives, setting up tables, cleaning up after events, holding babies in the nursery, but I never thought I’d be launching a men’s ministry! Yes, I was asked to step into a position giving ministry leadership to; children, youth, young adults, women’s and—men’s ministry!
In the following weeks, I organized a men’s ministry interest meeting. Asking a woman to lead a men’s ministry is like asking a man to lead a group of pregnant women in exploring giving care for newborns. At the interest meeting, which I had organized, I asked a potential leader if he would lead the meeting, as I quickly coached him on some suggested meeting goals. I slipped to the back and tried not to be seen. From my meager shy efforts a group of men began meeting and a men’s ministry was launched.
We all have similar stories of how we have filled a ministry role that was a complete misfit. The ministry assignment failed to fit our gift set, our ministry experience, and like me, maybe didn’t fit our gender! How do we take charge of our misfitted ministry requests without letting it sour our attitude.
First, remember that someone in our church family is cleaning the toilets. There are tasks that just have to be done. Mowing lawns, washing windows, taking out the garbage, all help move the church forward, but seemingly do little to advance one’s gifts or skills. At times the Lord may be asking us to explore servanthood as opposed to seeing our gifts utilized. When Jesus’ washed his disciple’s feet, he was placing an emphasis on servanthood over the exercising of gifts. His team had dirty feet and someone had to wash them before they could eat with clean feet. As we are called into ministry, and as we become more like Jesus, the heart of a servant within will often lead us to taking on tasks that may seem a misfit for our calling and gifting.
Second, take some time to review how past experiences outside your gifting helped form your current ministry passion. Many of our dreams and much of our passion comes to us as we must trust God as we do things that are beyond us. My love for children’s ministry grew out of an experience from my teen years when a teacher asked if I could be her assistant. Over the years I continued to serve with children and before I knew it, children’s ministry became my passion. Often our dreams and burdens follow what our hands have come to do, simply by responding in obedience to a need. As we serve in the perceived insignificant roles related to ministry, roles that don’t necessarily complement our gifts, we not only grow in appreciation for the wider body of Christ, we also might just discover what our real passion is.
Thirdly, talk to your spouse. If you are a couple in ministry I believe you will be surprised at how much you husband longs to see you find fulfillment in ministry. At times it may seem our husbands are just putting on us what they can’t find anyone else to do. And that happens. But as you share your heart with your husband and he begins to have a picture of your preferred ministry expression, I believe he will do everything he can to empower you to see that ministry dream become a reality.
Now, one last thought. Lets consider together the 80/20 rule made popular by the pastor turned leadership expert, John Maxwell. In this principle it is noted that 20% of seeds planted produce 80% of the yield. We use this principle to understand that God does want you to operate in your “sweet spot.” You have areas of strength that when leveraged for God will give great return. You also have areas of weakness, areas that if given too much time, will greatly hinder your fruitfulness. People that lack math skills should not spend a whole lot of time in bookkeeping for the church. We can have a servants heart, and take up “misfit” responsibilities for a season, but in the end God does want to see us flourish in the gifts he has given us. You will find that somethings just come easy for you. It might be leading worship, counseling women, organizing events, any number of things. This 80/20 rule, or Pareto principle, tells us that 80% of the effect comes from 20% of the cause. In other words you have gifts that give great payback when used. Yes, we should be open to misfit ministry experiences, but in the end we want to discover what God has placed with in us that when unleashed really makes a difference for His Kingdom.
As Pastor’s wives we see the big picture of the church. We understand the importance of men’s ministry, changing diapers in the nursery and setting up microphones. It’s this big picture perspective that has nurtured our servanthood and often propels us into that 20% instead of serving where we can really be most effective for God. The Apostle Paul’s words give us balance,
“Though I am free and belong to no man, I make myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible.” (1 Corinthians 9:19)