So remember that prayer I prayed Friday night? Well… Fast forward about 36 hours. It’s 7:30 am, Sunday morning. I’m lying in bed, in that not-quite-ready-to-face-the-day-just-yet state, pondering one thing: conflict resolution. Yep, not even two days later and God’s already given me an opportunity to practice and learn.
Let’s back up a bit (a week to be exact) for the setting of this “conflict”:
Again, it’s Sunday morning. GCBI (my school, Great Commission Bible Institute) requires its students to be involved in two ministries throughout the week, and I decided that morning to try out the Sunday morning children’s ministry. I was already volunteering for the Sunday night ministry; might as well give another dose of children a shot, right? Well, the teaching method of the Sunday morning program was very different from that of Sunday night’s, and as the morning progressed, I found myself thinking, “You know what, this isn’t really for me. I tried it out, not a great fit, I’ll just let the leaders know and move on. No big deal, right?”
But then there was that moment: The moment at the end when the ministry leader asks you, with light shining in his/her eyes, “Will I see you next week?” (insert hopeful smile here). It was like a scene in a movie; I heard my mouth say, “Yeah, sure!” while my poor, mute mind was yelling out in slow-mo “Noooooooooooooooo!”. Sadly, no one else heard the slow-mo voice, and before I knew it, I had volunteered myself for something I didn’t really want to do.
So, one week later, we’re back in my mostly-conscious state, contemplating my “conflict” dilemna: Internal conflict. The leaders of the children’s ministry were as sweet as could be; my problem was within myself (angel on one shoulder, demon on the other).
Usually I handle such conflicts like this:
“Jessi, I know you don’t want to serve in this ministry, but maybe your heart’s not in the right place. After all, ministry is not about you! It’s about glorifying God and serving other people. Besides, they really need me and I can do it. In fact, I did a pretty good job. If the only reason I’m not going to do it is just that I don’t want to, then I should just buckle down and meet the need. I can’t base my actions on feelings; if I act in accordance with right thinking, my feelings will fall in line afterwards.”
But I as I laid in bed I remembered something the ministry leader told us during Orientation: You should only serve in a ministry if you want/feel called to; God and the people you’re serving will be able to tell if you aren’t. And my mind was made up: I was going to handle this internal conflict differently. I was going to say no.
But then another question came to me: When? and, even more importantly, How? I could: A) Just not show up. They’d get the message, right? They might not even miss me. The leader probably forgot anyway. B) Poke my head in 5 min before they started and quickly explain myself. Or C) Be good to my word. Help out that week and, afterwards, tell them, “I tried this out, and I’m sorry, but it’s just not a good fit for me. Thank you for this opportunity!”
By God’s grace, I picked C. And it proved to be harder than I originally thought; I liked that Sunday morning more than it’s predecessor. But I had made up my mind: I wasn’t going to base my actions on feelings, I was going to follow through. No chickens here.
And I did. My heart was hammering, my mind was racing, and I had to concentrate on steadying my voice (I’m a baby, I know. But we all have to start somewhere). But, I did it. And the leader was gracious and understanding and thanked me for my help.
So, why am I telling you this? On our first day of Orientation, Pastor/Professor Randy told us a novel/simple concept. We all want to be in the right place at the right time when God presents us with those big decisions. Which school to go to. Who to marry. What house to buy. You name it. But the only way we can expect to be in that right place is if we make the right little steps to get there. Finish your homework on time. Work on inner beauty (1 Pet 3). Know your needs/wants. You get the idea. As I have been thinking about Sunday morning, I have realized I made one of those little steps. It doesn’t seem like much, because it really wasn’t. It was just one step. In the right direction. I can’t expect to handle any sort of major conflict (and we all face them sooner or later) if I can’t win the battle in my own mind.
So here I stand, one step further ahead. There’s nothing quite as exciting as seeing God answer prayer and empower you to live according to His will. Even if it’s as “simple” as saying, “Thanks, but no thanks”.