I can still recall the joy I had when my husband and I accepted our first full time ministry position. Even as a child, I knew my calling was that of a pastor. It was a knowing that just grew with age. And that still small voice kept calling me to prepare for what He would one day make a reality.
Then it came. That first night to stand in front of the youth of our church was such an honor. I had dreamed of this moment. The altar times; praying with the girls. The late night chats and shopping events. The small group setting where one-on-one ministry could altar the course of a life. Yet within weeks, events went out of the picture perfect lines of ministry. You know, that picture you can create in your own mind of what something will look like. It was ingrained in me. That ‘how my ministry would unfold’ picture. Instead I found myself rarely even in services with our youth. The reason: there was no nursery available for my little ones.
About the same time we transitioned into youth ministry, our church transitioned into small groups instead of mid-week service. Parents were in cell groups while the youth still met at the church in our youth building. That left only my little ones in need of nursery. Nursery room was even in a separate building. So while other ladies were bonding during small groups, I was in a large building alone, marching around in circles with three little ones marching behind me singing, “following the leader”. And that one-on-one ministry time during our youth’s Friday night small group? Same thing. The youth sat in the living room listening to my husband teach. I was in the den watching Balto save an entire town or Andy pull Barney out of another sticky situation.
My mind went ‘tilt‘. And it was time to have my own one-on-one with my Father. This was not what ‘He and I’ had planned for my life. And I knew He would listened.
I vented. “This was not what I had in mind. This isn’t fair. My husband wasn’t called into ministry until he was in college. I’ve know my whole life!! I am supposed to be influencing world changers from today’s youth……not watching Bambi! Why would You allow me to walk through the door only to face a wall?” I vented until I had nothing left to say. He listened. Then came that still small voice.
“I gave you three. Duplicate yourself in those three.”
And my world stilled. Cracked. Then came back off from ’tilt’.
As I sit here typing this, those words are still clear and tears fill my eyes. See, mentoring sometimes looks different according to our seasons in life. Duplication is still the end game. Everything I did with my kids became an intentional time to mentor. If we were planting seeds in the back yard, I taught about the process of seeds dying in the dirt in order to grow into a plant. Just like Jesus died and rose again. When we rescued a stray dog and took it in for care, or tried to save a hurt bird, or caught the lizard at the local nursery……only to have it get loose in my car while driving home……they all were times to teach them a character of Christ. Sometimes I blew it in mentoring of my three. But God’s grace always covered the empty space where I had missed the mark. And my Father taught ME how to be creative in mentoring youth as well. Girls joined me in grocery shopping or various outings with my kids. Those are times I taught the life lesson of being a godly role model. Or we baked together. Or had coffee. No matter how creative it became, it was all still the intentional art of duplication.
In the last few years I have been able to minister in Peru, Guatemala, Alaska, Tanzania, Morocco, Spain, Zambia, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Philippines, Thailand, Indonesia,… and I have a kids’ home in Haiti. Yet I’ve never visited another country except Mexico and Canada. So how could I have ministered in other places? Just one answer……….
HE GAVE ME THREE!