If Jesus walked in the room and said, “I don’t care what you do to serve me, but I want you to do what you are most passionate about,” what would you do? Would you teach a class, feed the homeless, minister to the elderly?
Often, the answer is what God has designed you to do with your life.
Personally, I’m passionate about mentorship. I taught in my church’s small group program, but for years, I never acted on my passion to develop people through mentorship. One day, I realized I would be held accountable for not stewarding my gift. So I told a friend about my passion and asked if I could mentor him.
I was initially scared to ask, but he said yes, and soon, his growth exploded. I began establishing mentor relationships and started seeing more fruit. I have been mentoring people ever since.
I meet a lot of believers who have a dream they have had for several years but never stepped into. The reasons I usually hear are some version of “My church doesn’t have a ministry involving what I want to do,” or “all the positions are filled.”
There are a lot of different obstacles that can get in the way of us following our calling—of diving into the area where God has called us to spread His love. Often, we get in our own way by allowing our worries to keep us from ever moving forward in a few ways:
Getting Overwhelmed By Thinking Too Far Ahead
Often, we get so caught up thinking about all the possible obstacles that we never take the first steps. We start dreaming about reaching thousands of people, building a ministry, launching a business. Our minds jump ahead to all we’ll have to do—planning, gathering volunteers, raising funds, writing proposals to church leaders, obtaining supplies.
All those things are important, but even big dreams have to start off small. If you feel called to minister to underprivileged kids, don’t start by thinking about how you would construct an entire program in every school in your area. Instead, your goal should be to minister once. That takes a few minutes to plan. If you have never done something you have dreamed about for years, then making it happen is the order of the day.
Fear of Doing the Wrong Thing
You don’t need a special calling to serve others. It’s not wise to get in over our heads before we’ve given something sufficient prayer and thought. However, I see too many believers doing absolutely nothing, rather than simply doing their own thing in God’s name.
Jesus said He is the Good Shepherd. When the sheep run past the Shepherd, He calls them to come back. You are His sheep, and He will do it in a way you can hear it. If He should have to call you back, it’s not a sign of going outside of God’s will. It’s a sign that there is something better in a different direction.
Looking for the Approval of Others
When you first start doing what you are called to do, often you can fear being misperceived by others. What if I look arrogant? Am I spiritual enough in their eyes to be doing this?
But what qualifies you to do ministry isn’t your talents or skills, it’s Jesus.
The way you move past caring about what others think about you is by choosing to live in a way that shows Jesus’ opinion matters more. It can feel awkward to put Him first, but that is what dying to yourself is all about.
The difference between being arrogant and serving others is a matter of the heart. Why are you doing this? Is it to love people, or is it to build a personal platform? When your heart is right, then you are serving in Jesus name.
Waiting for the Approval of Church Leaders
You don’t have to wait for the stamp of approval before you move forward with what you feel God calling you toward. Most pastors love to hear that their church members are serving outside of the walls of the church—it shows that someone is actually listening to their preaching.
And while it’s great to include people from your church, you don’t necessarily have to feel the pressure to make everything a church-wide event. You don’t need to make an announcement and gather people to give blankets to the poor, just give some of your old ones away.
Once you overcome some of these attitudes that are holding you back, you can start moving forward a little at a time.
Simply Do It Once
If you dream of feeding the homeless and your church doesn’t have a ministry, make five or 10 sandwiches and go to the park.
If you want to become a life coach, ask a friend if you could try to coach him.
If you want to learn to pray for the sick, go to the hospital and visit some people.
If you want to teach, invite five friends over and share your testimony for 30 minutes.
If you want to be a missionary, visit a different cultural community in your city and try to help meet needs they may have.
All you have to do is ask “How can I do this once?” Then get your calendar out and schedule a time in the next two weeks when you do it. Set a date. Seriously, get your calendar out and do it right now.
If you need people, make a list of two or three people you think may want to help or be involved and ask them to join you. Ask them in person, give them a call or write a personal email. Don’t do a group email—people are more likely to say yes to a personal invitation.
After you do it once, you can always set a goal again of doing it one more time. If it’s fruitful, set another goal. After you do it once six or seven times, you might find a ministry that emerges. You don’t necessarily have to start off by gathering and training volunteers, budgeting, lots of planning and working through church administration policies. You will simply be serving faithfully and, best of all, in your passion.
Elijah Stephens is currently making a documentary about miracles where he asks the hard questions, and seeks to corroborate them with medical evidence PrayerMovie.com.