When I was a young woman in ministry, I assumed my journey would look like the journeys of my mentors and others I respected. I thought that successful ministry meant to lead a growing, thriving church or evangelistic organization. Humble beginnings were fine but only if it developed into something bigger and more notable. I myself was on the track to God-honoring success. At the age of 18, I was a featured soloist for Christian community events and led worship with a trio for evangelistic meetings with attendance of over 2,000 people. I believed that, as I followed Jesus in obedience, ministry would only increase. That’s what my cookie cutter for ministry looked like.
How shocking that God’s path went a completely different direction. By the time I was 24, I had four small children and was hidden away as a youth pastor’s wife in a tiny logging community. When I prayed about ministry opportunities that were offered to me, I sensed over and over again that I needed to decline. I would politely say “no” while arguing furiously with the Lord. This clearly did not fit my mold.
Eventually the doors were open for music ministry again. I loved leading worship for services and conferences. I wrote songs and recorded two CDs. Music was my passion and I thought it would be a part of my life forever. Then, four years ago I started to feel the stirrings of a new direction. It led away from music and church ministry altogether.
Today, I love serving Jesus as the Executive Director of a non-profit organization, a speaker and a writer. But it isn’t what I ever imagined myself doing. No cookie cutters for successful, vibrant ministry looked like this. But that’s okay.
Our heavenly Father has called us to an adventure with twists and turns that require trust. We keep our eyes on Him as He directs our next steps, with confidence that He truly knows what’s best for us and His Kingdom.
Have you followed a carefully charted course, and yet find yourself in a place that surprises you? Has life thrown some twists and turns your way? Do you believe you are where God wants you, but it doesn’t look like what you imagine? It’s okay. Put away the cookie cutters. Success isn’t measured by numbers, results, or position. It’s measured by loving obedience to our loving Father.
He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.
And what does the Lord require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
and to walk humbly with your God (Micah 6:8, NIV).
Trust in the Lord with all your heart;
do not depend on your own understanding.
Seek his will in all you do,
and he will show you which path to take (Proverbs 3:5-6, NLT).
Heavenly Father, I praise You that Your plans are good. I surrender my life to You, and trust You to lead. Help me not to measure my success by the standards of this world. Help me measure it according to Your Word. Thank You for calling me to follow after You. In Jesus’ name. Amen.