I can still remember the day that I felt “called” to ministry. Up until that point in my life, I honestly thought the idea of a “calling” was completely bogus. In fact, up until that point, even a word like “saved” would have made me think that the person saying it was some sort of crazy religious zealot. And yet, in spite of myself, God called me… little ol’ skeptical not-so-saved me. And from that point forward, it all became so much clearer and so much more real.
While my husband and I were engaged, he told me that he had always felt called to plant a church. Seeing that I didn’t even really know what he meant by that, the idea of it was so very intimidating and scary. We agreed that while he felt that it was his true purpose in life, I was not ready and would still need time. Together we decided that we would pursue a pastor position and let me get my feet wet in the world of ministry. I had not been the most active church member (or attender even) for a few years prior to that anyway, so going from that to being a pastor’s wife was a big enough step as it was.
The next couple of months were spent traveling all over the country for interviews. Sometimes he would go alone, and other times the church would cover my travel so that they could meet me, too. It was the first time I realized just how much of a team effort ministry really was. It was also the first time that I felt like I would be the one to ruin it for both of us. I was not perfect, did not have a great track record of attending church since high school, and had certainly never led anything in the church. But thankfully, at every step of the way, I was met with love and excitement, and the interviews were pleasant.
After a few strike-outs, whether it was their decision or ours that it wasn’t a fit, we interviewed for a campus pastor position of a multi-site church. The campus was still in development, and we would not only pastor the campus, but get it off the ground. My husband was beyond excited about the possibility, and I was terrified. Church planting, from the little I knew about it, meant big sacrifices of time and money. We would be newly married when the position started and we did not have an abundance of either one of those things. Not only that, but once we flew out there, I realized that the church was in the middle of nowhere (in my opinion). We drove an hour from the airport to get there and passed nothing but corn fields. Even worse, when we visited the town where the actual campus would be, there was not even a McDonald’s, much less a shopping mall. We would be moving from Florida, where there is shopping and fine dining on every corner, so this was not my idea of something that would work out. My mind was made up about 24 hours after we arrived, whether he liked it or not.
The night before I was due to go home, we attended the service at the main campus. Up through this point, I was uncomfortable with free worship which led folks to lift up their hands toward the heavens, and even words on a screen instead of a hymnal seemed weird. I was solely there to support my husband, and then we’d kindly tell them “no” if they offered us a job. And then, as God sometimes likes to do, he smacked me right between the eyeballs when these words of the message rang through my brain:
“What have you ever sacrificed to further the Kingdom of God?”
And there it was… the moment that I will never forget that changed my life forever. I’m not sure what else was said that day, and could not even tell you any other main point from that message, but those words have been forever engrained in my brain since that moment. As I sat there, tears forming in my eyes (which was also a new experience for me… who cries in church?), I looked aback on my life and realized how much I had been living for me- for my comfort, my enjoyment, my fun. And nowhere in me was there anything that was living for God. And I certainly had never sacrificed anything for Him, even though He sacrificed His only son, not only for everyone else, but for ME. After that night, I let my husband know that if they offered him that position, he better take it. Those words changed my life.
It’s been years since that night, but in every ministry opportunity that comes my way, those are the words that I reference when making decisions. Last year, my husband and I did launch our own church, and that process was full of sacrifice- it was financially tight, stressful on our growing family, and there were so many moments of doubt and worry as to whether this thing would actually work. But God is so faithful, and in those months leading up to launch, the abundance of joy far outweighed those other things. I got a glimpse of what God must have felt… that his sacrifice (albeit His much bigger than mine) was more than worth it, and it brings him endless amounts of joy to see His children saved. God knew the outcome long before He sent His son to die, just as He knew who would show up on that first day we held a church service, and sometimes the incredible outcome can’t happen without sacrifice. So as you face a big decision or a new step in your ministry life, don’t be afraid to ask yourself, “What have I ever sacrificed to further the Kingdom of God?”
– Kim Mauney