A number of years ago, I was volunteering in a youth ministry and it didn’t feel right. There were small issues all the time, nothing big, but enough to cause frustration. It made me doubt myself, my skills, my calling.
I never could quite figure out what the issue was, until years later when I happened to see this ‘advice’ on my Facebook timeline:
All of a sudden it hit me. There’s a big, a huge difference between being tolerated and being celebrated. And that’s exactly what was happening in that church, in that volunteer position. I was tolerated, for whatever reason, but I was never celebrated. Ever since, I’ve looked at my position in churches and ministries differently.
Now, I’m not big on following your feelings. I know we live in a culture where following your heart has became the mantra and where ‘do what feels right’ is about the highest priority. The Bible shows us a different way, however, a higher way. Doing the right thing doesn’t always feel good. On the contrary, fleeing from sin for instance may not feel good at all and neither will persevering in the midst of pressure and oppression. Christianity is not and will never be a feel-good-faith. So the first part of that quote is debatable, as far as I’m concerned.
Where Is God Calling You?
That being said, I do believe in serving where you are meant to be, where God is calling you. That can be a place where you are celebrated. I’m a volunteer with Youth for Christ right now and I love it. I work with both middle schoolers and high schoolers and the pastor who is in charge of the after school clubs we run had happily delegated all of the teaching to me. He celebrates my passion and gift for teaching and there’s such freedom and empowerment in that.
But sometimes our calling is to be merely tolerated, because that’s exactly where God wants us to be. I’ve been that trailblazer before, especially as a woman. I was the first woman on staff in my church in The Netherlands, the first woman to speak regularly in Sunday morning services, the first woman who was allowed to do weddings. I was only tolerated at first, and sometimes not even that. There have been times where I wanted to quit because I was so tired of the struggle to be treated equally.
Yet I was exactly where God wanted me to be. He used me to open doors and make a way for others. I started being tolerated, but I left being celebrated. Every time I’m back in The Netherlands, that church invites me to speak and I’ve done a number of weddings and special services sinceI left!
I hope that you’re in a place right now where you’re being celebrated, where people love you and value you for all you are. If you’re not, make sure you are where God wants you to be. He may call you to serve in the desert for a while, but you’d better make sure that is indeed your calling. How I pray that you will end up being celebrated as well…
p.s. No matter where you are in life or in your ministry, if you are a woman in youth ministry, the Women in Youth Ministry Campference is the place to be for you. Check out more info here and register soon, ’cause it’s only a few weeks away!