Life in Your 30s; Doing Stuff for God

The following is audio with images, plain audio, and text from the teaching given by Leah on January 31, 2016.  Feel free to listen online, download, or read.  This teaching is the second in our winter series, "Find Your Calling."

How did you find what in life you were gonna be about?  If you feel like you are in the process of discerning a calling, what does that look like to discern? I personally didn’t just wake up one day and think, “Hey, I should move across the county and start a church.  That would be a great idea.”  No, it was over a number of years of trying different things, and trying to partner with Jesus in the process, that I was able to begin to identify what my strengths, gifts, and passions were, and to ask the question, “how does this inform the bigger ways that God might direct and move through my life?”    

By the time I came to faith in Jesus as a student I was already a singer, so being involved in musical worship was pretty natural.  That gift wasn’t too hard to identify.  Other gifts came more gradually and sometimes in surprising places.  I started a band and began gigging regularly after college.  I also began a music lessons business.  My natural proclivities to do these things revealed an entrepreneurial bent.  For a season my day job involved running large scale Youth and Family programs for my local YMCA.  In one of these programs I had to manage a group of over 100 extremely affluent mostly white fathers who participated in a father-child program I ran; folks who had little motivation to take direction from me, a mid twenty-something with no kids and no executive experience.  I also ran a music theatre program that mounted an annual production staffed by thirty plus adult volunteers and featuring on stage over two hundred teenagers.  The administrative skills, detail management, and experience working with large groups of people to support the mission of my programs was invaluable in identifying executive functioning skills that might be useful in other contexts. Finally, opportunities I began to be given in small settings like church women’s gatherings or alternative services helped me identify a joy and gifting in preaching. 

All of these things coming together meant that when my mentor looked at me and said, “Leah, you have the gift mix of a church planter,” it took me no time to get what she meant.  In that moment, it seemed clear and obvious, even if it was a daunting proposition.  To have her name it out loud felt like someone gave me permission to name about myself what I was intuitively beginning to believe but wouldn’t publicly own.  God was using the encouragement of my faith community to affirm in me who I was made to be and where that might take me in terms of calling.  I couldn’t have gotten there, though, without the opportunity to try stuff and figure out what I was good at, what I enjoyed, and what I didn’t.

I tell this story because it connects were our topic for today. Throughout this series we’re exploring the whole concept of growing in our callings or destinies through the lens of the research of Dr. J. Robert Clinton, or Bobby Clinton, who spent much of his career researching this very question: how do people successfully navigate a journey with Jesus in a way that allows them to live fully into their unique destinies?  Clinton looked at hundreds of people over the last two thousand plus years, and discovered some common patterns which he lays out in his path of leadership development.

We talked last time about how for the purpose of this conversation it’s helpful to remember that “leadership” for Bobby Clinton simply means seeing other people around you in God, and recognizing that you have capacity to partner with God to influence others for good.  Another term we talked about was “ministry” which I reminded us simply means our area of specific service, whether it be in church, at home, or in the workplace.  My friend Dave Schmelzer, defines ministry in Clinton’s framework as simply “doing stuff for God”.

Before we get into the phase of the process we’re focusing on today, let’s review the six phases that Clinton believes that folks who successfully navigate this process tend to go through.  Remember, these timelines are not set in stone in any way.  They just give you a sense of rough equivalents of when things tend to happen for most people.

So, as we looked at last time, the first of Bobby Clinton’s phases roughly corresponds with childhood, and it’s called “Sovereign Foundations”.   The second phase we spent most of our time on last time roughly corresponds with young adults in their 20s, and it’s known as  “Inner Life Growth”.   Here the focus is more on character development then anything else.   The third phase, what we’re gonna be focusing on today that happens roughly in someone’s 30s; a phase Dr. Clinton calls “Ministry Maturing”.  This one is dealing with developing in the unique areas of service and calling that the person is growing into.  Next, phase four, Clinton calls “Life Maturing”.  That’s roughly in the forties.  And then around the fifties, some people, not everyone, but some fortunate people hit a phase Clinton calls “Convergence” when everything comes together and folks reach a peak of fruitfulness in their destinies.  Finally, later in life, Clinton finds that an even fewer number of people are able to hit a sixth and final phase.  He calls this “Afterglow”. 

So something to note about phases 2 to 3 to 4:  there’s a lot of blur to these.   But nonetheless, Clinton does see important shifts of emphasis from season to another.  In Sovereign Foundations the emphasis of all that is happening is really on developing your character.  In Ministry Maturing, it’s more about developing your gifts.  But both are core for Clinton to reach convergence - you’re gonna need both character and gifting.

As we consider the phase Clinton calls “Ministry Maturing” we’re gonna track it with another character from the Bible.  This one comes much later in the Biblical narrative, from the book of Acts in the New Testament.  Acts, short for The Acts of the Apostles, is the Bible’s account of how the early church began and carried on the mission of Jesus once he had died, risen, ascended, and sent them the Holy Spirit to empower them to continue his project.  Barnabas first appears on the scene in the 4th chapter, as the early church has been just getting going after the initial crew of Jesus followers received the Holy Spirit and quickly saw God doing amazing things through them, bringing hundreds of people to faith in Jesus.  Let’s look at Barnabas’ first appearance in Acts 4.

32 All the believers were united in heart and mind. And they felt that what they owned was not their own, so they shared everything they had. 33 The apostles testified powerfully to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and God’s great blessing was upon them all. 34 There were no needy people among them, because those who owned land or houses would sell them 35 and bring the money to the apostles to give to those in need.

36 For instance, there was Joseph, the one the apostles nicknamed Barnabas (which means “Son of Encouragement”). He was from the tribe of Levi and came from the island of Cyprus. 37 He sold a field he owned and brought the money to the apostles.

So this is where we first meet the character we’re focusing on today, someone we find out that is actually named “Joseph”, but from hereon after, we’ll hear him called by the name he was given by the Apostles, Barnabas.  If you keep reading, the next passage in Acts 5 tells an intense story about a couple who saw what Barnabas did, and they wanted the same respect of others that he clearly had and so they sold property and told the church they were giving all the money to the church, but secretly they held some back. God let Peter know that, he called them out on it, they each denied it separately, and they each died on the spot.  So disturbing as that is, it seems clear that Barnabas’ act demonstrates leadership, he was influencing others in a positive way.  And so you could say that our few verses about him selling the field demonstrate his entry point into the Ministry Maturing phase.  Clinton talks about how in this phase, folks are given some practical challenge, either externally, someone invites them into a leadership task, or internally, they feel led to initiate something, and they enter Ministry Maturing.  Doing stuff for God starts to become a major focus of life.

There are a couple of other things we see in these couple of verses that are worth noting.  We learn from the new name Joseph is given that he has received affirmation and identification of a gift.  The Apostles identify that he is an encourager, that he has a particular gift to bring encouragement to others.  That that is something God has apparently done with them, they are encouraged by Barnabas, so much so, that they start calling him “Son of Encouragement”.  And that feedback is helpful for Barnabas to understand himself, understand who God is made him to be, and perhaps a clue into his unique calling.

A few chapters later we see him putting that knowledge to work in the next Barnabas appearance in Acts 9.  This is right after Saul, the Pharisee who has been leading the persecution of the young church, trying to have the leaders of it all killed, had his own powerful experience with Jesus and made a 180 degree turn to follow him.  That happened while he was en route to Damascus to try to round up Jesus followers and have them killed.  Here’s what happened instead.

Saul stayed with the believers in Damascus for a few days. 20 And immediately he began preaching about Jesus in the synagogues, saying, “He is indeed the Son of God!”

21 All who heard him were amazed. “Isn’t this the same man who caused such devastation among Jesus’ followers in Jerusalem?” they asked. “And didn’t he come here to arrest them and take them in chains to the leading priests?”

22 Saul’s preaching became more and more powerful, and the Jews in Damascus couldn’t refute his proofs that Jesus was indeed the Messiah. 23 After a while some of the Jews plotted together to kill him. 24 They were watching for him day and night at the city gate so they could murder him, but Saul was told about their plot. 25 So during the night, some of the other believers lowered him in a large basket through an opening in the city wall.

26 When Saul arrived in Jerusalem, he tried to meet with the believers, but they were all afraid of him. They did not believe he had truly become a believer! 27 Then Barnabas brought him to the apostles and told them how Saul had seen the Lord on the way to Damascus and how the Lord had spoken to Saul. He also told them that Saul had preached boldly in the name of Jesus in Damascus.

28 So Saul stayed with the apostles and went all around Jerusalem with them, preaching boldly in the name of the Lord. 

So the early Jesus-followers were understandably suspicious and afraid of Saul.  His dramatic conversion was nothing short of miraculous and remarkable, but likely a lot of them who knew how hard Saul had been working to kill them were slow to believe that he genuinely had changed.  It was through Barnabas exercising his gift of encouragement, seeing potential in Saul, really listening to his story and advocating or encouraging others on Saul’s behalf, that the Apostles embraced him.

A couple of chapters later we see that the Apostles are clearly tracking that Barnabas is an emerging leader, an emerging person with capacity to partner with Jesus on behalf of others.  So they give him a concrete ministry task.  They get word of faith in Jesus spreading, particularly amongst Gentiles as well as Jews in Antioch, and they want to find out what’s up.  Acts 11 tells us this:

22 When the church at Jerusalem heard what had happened, they sent Barnabas to Antioch. 23 When he arrived and saw this evidence of God’s blessing, he was filled with joy, and he encouraged the believers to stay true to the Lord. 24 Barnabas was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and strong in faith. And many people were brought to the Lord.

Barnabas is given a formal role, he’s sent on the Apostle’s behalf to Antioch and he used his gift of encouragement among other emerging gifts to encourage the new believers there, and it goes really well.

All of this tracks with how Bobby Clinton lays out the first half of the Ministry Maturing phase.  In the first part of this phase, the major task is expanding and honing ministry skills and spiritual gifts. What has God actually put in you that could be useful for God and for others? Often this comes out through experience with real responsibility. There’s nothing like an actual opportunity of being responsible for others to grow us up and show us what we’re made of. We usually feel like we’re thrown in over our heads and we need to seek out tools to meet the task and try to keep from drowning.  As Clinton tells us, greater responsibility comes with faithfully and effectively meeting these service challenges.  The Apostles notice Barnabas’ faithfulness with his financial generosity.  They notice his desire to encourage others and to advocate for others, and so he’s the person they send to Antioch.  They entrust him with a greater level of responsibility.


There’s another major task of Ministry Maturing, generally in the second part of this season. If the first task of Ministry Maturing is about expanding and honing skills and gifts, the second is about learning to work well with others.  The whole premise of growing in leadership in God, stepping into our calling involving other people, means that we’re going to be working with others for good.  But working with other people can be really challenging at times because people are different from one another.  In an election season this is particularly obvious.  Facebook sometimes shocks me because we can be reminded of how different our view points of the world might be, even with people we consider our “friends”.  And so in order to become the kind of person who can be entrusted with significant influence, God needs to help us become the kind of people who have learned to deal with difficult but common challenging interpersonal dynamics.

One of these challenging dynamics is in regards to authority.  God wants us to be people who can follow well and be followed.  Clinton talks about us becoming people who both submit to authority well and who can wear authority well ourselves.  These are connected.  Most of us have challenges at some point submitting to authority.  We don’t like, especially as Western culture adults, the concept of submission. This is particularly true when we don’t understand or fully agree with the direction a leader is trying to take us.  Now I’m not advocating a kind of blind obedience to perpetrate injustice or harm in the name of submission.  Not at all.  But I am advocating a process in which the emerging leader begins to discern with God why submission is challenging. When you have a disagreement with someone leading you and the direction they want to take things, is it something not of Jesus in them and how they’re trying to use authority that you’re reacting to, or is it something in you, something God wants to grow you in - a way that you’re still immature or self serving - that is the problem?  

Further, we need to come to a place where we can ask the question with God as to why this person is in authority over us?  There’s a difference between authority that is solely a result of professional roles or government, and some sort of spiritual authority (authority that seems to come from God in a sense).  But before you dismiss the former as irrelevant in this conversation, you should know that the Bible actually has some provocative things to say about how these two might be connected.  In Romans 13:1, Paul talks to the church in Rome about this.  Remember they are the church based in the capital of the super-secular, quite unfriendly to the Christian church, occupying empire, but Paul says to them:
Everyone must submit to governing authorities. For all authority comes from God, and those in positions of authority have been placed there by God.

So the question becomes when you are under another’s authority, is there something for you from God in submitting? Is that something God is calling you to? I think often God might say something like these words from Paul.  We might not agree with everything our boss or politicians are doing, but our following their lead becomes important relationally.  Even if our leader’s direction, isn’t “right” to us in any way, at times God is inviting us to choose being connected in our place of employment, in the organizations in which we serve, in our faith communities, over rejection of authority.  I think a large part of the reason Paul advocates for submission to this government in this context (and to be clear, I don’t believe this is for all time in every context) but in this context I think Paul advocates for submission to Roman authority because he knows that stirring political revolt agains the Roman government is only going to hurt the cause of Christ.  It will exclude more people from active participation in Jesus-centered community then it will include, and Paul’s greatest aim is to make space for as many people as possible to access the living Jesus.  Revolt against authority is counter-productive.

That being said, I believe, as does Clinton, that there are times when resistance to authority is necessary.  We’re gonna see this in a story I’ll share a bit later. Sometimes we need to step out from under the authority of others because we recognize that God is our ultimate authority, and while God uses people to lead, any spiritual authority they have comes from God.  And if you sense that God’s authority is not being appropriately administered through an individual or institution, withdrawal from the situation is sometimes necessary, but as you do so, you should remember that you are placing yourself under the authority of God Himself.    

As Barnabas’ story continues on Acts, we see an interesting dynamic regarding authority emerge.  At first it is clear that Barnabas is mentoring Saul.  He is sent on his ministry task to Antioch, and not long after he begins to bear fruit, he decides to bring Saul along.  In Acts 11, He goes and he gets Saul and brings him to Antioch, and they’re doing great things, and then they go and collect another guy to mentor named John Mark.  And then in Acts 13 we see what happens next as the leaders of the Antioch church are in prayer:

One day as these men were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Dedicate Barnabas and Saul for the special work to which I have called them.” 3 So after more fasting and prayer, the men laid their hands on them and sent them on their way.

4 So Barnabas and Saul were sent out by the Holy Spirit. They went down to the seaport of Seleucia and then sailed for the island of Cyprus. 5 There, in the town of Salamis, they went to the Jewish synagogues and preached the word of God. John Mark went with them as their assistant.

6 Afterward they traveled from town to town across the entire island until finally they reached Paphos, where they met a Jewish sorcerer, a false prophet named Bar-Jesus. 7 He had attached himself to the governor, Sergius Paulus, who was an intelligent man. The governor invited Barnabas and Saul to visit him, for he wanted to hear the word of God. 8 But Elymas, the sorcerer (as his name means in Greek), interfered and urged the governor to pay no attention to what Barnabas and Saul said. He was trying to keep the governor from believing.

9 Saul, also known as Paul, was filled with the Holy Spirit, and he looked the sorcerer in the eye. 10 Then he said, “You son of the devil, full of every sort of deceit and fraud, and enemy of all that is good! Will you never stop perverting the true ways of the Lord? 11 Watch now, for the Lord has laid his hand of punishment upon you, and you will be struck blind. You will not see the sunlight for some time.” Instantly mist and darkness came over the man’s eyes, and he began groping around begging for someone to take his hand and lead him.

12 When the governor saw what had happened, he became a believer, for he was astonished at the teaching about the Lord.

OK, so we see that Barnabas and Saul are clearly an effective leadership team, and they’re bringing John Mark along.  And then we have this crazy exchange between Saul and the sorcerer, or false prophet as Acts calls him.  And this other interesting in that exchange: Saul gets a new name.  He is now Paul.  I don’t think it’s a coincidence that this is the moment, not the moment of his conversion, not the moment he begins preaching.  Something about this exchange seems to release Paul more fully into his new identity.  And what follows is also interesting.

13 Paul and his companions then left Paphos by ship for Pamphylia, landing at the port town of Perga. There John Mark left them and returned to Jerusalem. 14 But Paul and Barnabas traveled inland to Antioch of Pisidia.

So did you notice the subtle shift?  Up until now, Luke, the author of Acts, has always said “Barnabas and Saul”, but from here on out, he almost always says “Paul and Barnabas”.  Here we get the sense that Barnabas had the maturity to allow Paul to be released from that role of mentee and emerge fully into the leadership God has given him.  Barnabas yields authority to Paul, likely because he recognizes the authority is not his to grasp.  This demonstrates that he understands how spiritual authority works and so he can be trusted with it.  He has learned to wear it well.  Barnabas understands that spiritual authority belongs to God alone and it must be given to whomever God would choose to use.

Another area of challenging interpersonal dynamics that Dr. Clinton identifies is the area of conflict.  When we have groups of people, large or small, inevitably conflict will come at some point.  It’s important in the Ministry Maturing phase that we learn to navigate that conflict with maturity.  In Acts we also see where Barnabas comes into conflict.  The two of them, assisted by John Mark in the beginning, travel from city to city and publicly preach and heal people, and bring lots and lots and lots of people to faith in Jesus, and then they eventually return to Antioch.  And they go to Jerusalem for a bit to explain to the other Apostles why they’re ministering to Gentiles and what God seems to be doing among them, and then we come to this part.

36 After some time Paul said to Barnabas, “Let’s go back and visit each city where we previously preached the word of the Lord, to see how the new believers are doing.” 37 Barnabas agreed and wanted to take along John Mark. 38 But Paul disagreed strongly, since John Mark had deserted them in Pamphylia and had not continued with them in their work. 39 Their disagreement was so sharp that they separated. Barnabas took John Mark with him and sailed for Cyprus. 40 Paul chose Silas, and as he left, the believers entrusted him to the Lord’s gracious care. 41 Then he traveled throughout Syria and Cilicia, strengthening the churches there.

So here we see Paul and Barnabas who have been partners all along, navigating changes in role, but doing it with maturity, but now we see them have conflict.  And it’s kinda messy.  As we saw in the last passage, somewhere along the line John Mark left them.  We don’t get this story as to why that is, but we do get the sense here that Paul takes it personally, and he is not forgiving.  It sounds like Barnabas wants to give him a pass or another chance but Paul is not ok with that. And Barnabas clearly feels strongly enough in John Mark’s potential as a leader that he stands his ground and the two decide to go their separate ways.

Now from this passage alone it’s hard to tell if anyone handled this well; it ends with separation, and the author of Acts does not take sides.  But if we look at the words that Paul wrote years later in a letter to the church in Collosia we get the sense that Paul has had a change of heart and recognizes that Barnabas was in the right. He tells the church in Collosia to welcome Mark warmly if he comes their way.

When I was new on the staff of Sanctuary Community Church, the church I served as the musical worship pastor for five years, I felt this sense that it was my job to advocate to the rest of the staff for my worship leaders and musicians, some times in confrontational ways. There was one particular time that made me feel passionate on the worship ministry’s behalf and frustrated with the rest of the staff because I feared they wouldn’t take my concerns for the worship ministry seriously enough.  In the midst of conflict we were having over it, Adey, my senior pastor called me.  She said something so simple but totally counter to how I had been operating.  She told me that on our staff we had a core way of understanding how we work.  “We’re all on the same team,” were her words.  You don’t need to convince us you’re right and we’re wrong.  You don’t need to advocate as if we don’t share your concerns.  We’re all on the same team.  That simple psychological move from combat to cooperation made an immense difference for me.  It wasn’t that our disagreements vanished, but in navigating them we were able to work from a place of mutual respect and care for one another and the joint project we were about.  And I came to learn how the need for me to be right and someone else to be wrong was much less important than the need for us to be working together.  It’s a lesson I’ve applied not only in worker church-based but relationships like marriage as well.

Finally, there’s one more challenging inter-personal dynamic that Clinton identifies as important for God to deal with in Ministry Maturing.  It’s a phenomenon called leadership-backlash.  Inevitably, when hardship comes, folks who are still growing in their own maturity and ability to follow will strike out at the leader.  They project their issues with authority that often stem from their parents or past authority figures on the current leader.  In the secular sphere of psychology, this is known as transference.  If a leader doesn’t have the combination of self-awareness, humility and confidence in their own identity before God, they can be rocked emotionally and spiritually by this experience. 

A couple of final notes about this Ministry Maturing stage.  The temptation in this phase is a hyper-sensitivity toward productivity.  We can become fixated in Ministry Maturing on results. But we need to not lose sight of the reality that while there will be productivity, 
ultimately this stage is still more about our own development than the outward success of our service efforts. 

The last thing I’ll say about this phase is a warning.  The danger of Ministry Maturing is a tendency to plateau.  A lot of people don’t ever emerge from ministry maturing.  Some give up on the whole endeavor of growing into a calling from God altogether or flame out in some sort of moral failure and can’t recover.  But most people who don’t emerge simply level off.  They stop growing.  They think they’ve learned whatever they need to know, and they stop putting energy into growth.  They stop taking risks, they stop saying yes to new challenges that could expand their gifts, or they never learn to work well with people.  They give up on the authority challenges, they give up on handling conflict well, they get too discouraged by leadership backlash, that they withdraw.

But for those who hang in there, the fruit of this season is rich.  They become people who move from doing service, to focusing on achievement and productivity, to people who lead and serve out of who they truly are.  They move from doing to being.  And that shift gives the energy and purpose and freedom to move further and further in their path toward meaning and fruitfulness in God.

I’m gonna end with a story of someone who I would say lived a purposeful life, successfully seeing others in God for decades, and fulfilling her ultimate calling in God, but it began in these early stages of Inner-life growth and Ministry Maturing. Corrie Ten Boom was a watchmaker in Holland in the 1920s and 30s. Never married, Corrie gave herself to learning her father’s watch-making business and carrying on the legacy of both of her parents to see others in God and bless them.  Corrie’s parents were devout Christians, and though they were not wealthy people, they shared everything they had with those around them.  Corrie’s mom for years involved her kids in her service toward others, sending them with bread baskets and notes from herself to folks who were ill, shut-ins who couldn’t leave the home, neighbors who had lost a child or fallen on hard financial times.  When her mother passed, Corrie and her unmarried sister Betsy, along with their father, began taking in foster children and raised several in their home through the years.  And every day before opening the shop and before the went to bed, they read the Bible together, and prayed, and often other shop employees joined them for spiritual support.

Then in 1939, the Germans invaded Holland. Before long, Holland had surrendered to the Nazis.  The ten Booms were greatly grieved for their friends who were Jewish.  They had great reverence for the Jewish people as being the people who were “the apple of God’s eye”.  And slowly more and more Jews began disappearing.  And then in 1941 the first knock came at the ten Boom door.  It was a Jewish woman who had packed what little she could and came to the ten Booms asking if they had a place to stay.  As Mr. ten Boom told her, “In this house, God’s people are always welcome.”  These words were the beginning of the ten Boom family hiding Jewish people during World War 2.   They became an important part of an underground network. Corrie’s home hid Jews for as long as it took their family to find safe longer-term housing or escape from Holland and other Nazi occupied countries. 

The watch business on the first floor provided cover for a lot of people coming and going.  Upstairs is where their guests stayed, maintaining silence as best they could.  In Corrie’s room, a hiding place was constructed that could hold up to six people when the home was being searched.  They successfully subverted the Nazi governement, breaking many laws in the process, but doing so in the name of Jesus, for three years.  Through the activities of the ten Boom family, it’s estimated that around 800 Jewish lives were saved.  And then in February 1944, the Gestapo got wind of the ten Boom family’s activities and 35 people were arrested who were involved in the underground ring, both Jews and Gentiles.  They were all sent to German concentration camps.  Corrie’s 84 year old father died within the first couple of weeks.     

While in the camp, Corrie and her sister continued their practice of daily worship.  They had daily devotionals comprised of Bible reading, prayer and worship, and women of many faith backgrounds joined them to experience spiritual comfort in the darkest of places where there was no other comfort to be had. Then in December, 1944, Corrie’s sister Betsie, who had always been frail of health, passed away.  Twelve days later, Corrie, through a clerical error, or perhaps a miracle of God, was unexplainably released, only a few days before all of the women of her age in her camp were exterminated.

After the war, Corrie returned to the Netherlands and opened a rehabilitation center for concentration camp survivors.  After a number of years she began a world wide ministry sharing her story, a ministry which took her to over 60 countries.  She wrote a beautiful book in 1971 called the Hiding Place.  In her latter years, Corrie ten Boom experienced convergence, maybe even afterglow.  The defining call on her life was a call she would not have chosen, but it chose her.  By the time this woman in her 50s had to make the choice to put her own life at risk, it was not a question what her response would be.  She had spent too long sheltering children, providing food to people out of work, praying for her neighbors, cultivating administrative skills and relationships with many people in the community that were invaluable to the underground effort, to choose her own safety over the safety of others.  Instead, when Holland fell to Germany she found herself praying this prayer: “Lord Jesus, I offer myself for Your people. In any way. Any place. Any time.”  And Jesus certainly took her up on it.  But it started with the years of following Jesus, of learning to respond to him, of learning to hear his voice, of learning what she was good at and how she could use her gifts to serve others.  She learned the lessons of inner-life growth and ministry maturing, and thus when the time came, she and her family fervently believed that it would be their greatest honor to give their lives on behalf of their Jewish brothers and sisters.

Most of us will not live a story like Corrie ten Boom’s.  But we can all choose to stay in the process of growing into our own callings.  So as we transition into worship, I invite you to consider in this responsive time, where are you at in your own journey of doing stuff for God?  Where do you have room to grow?  As you pray, as you sing, as you light candles, I invite you to ask Jesus to speak to you about these things, and see what he wants to reveal to you.  

Let me pray a blessing on all of us as we transition.