Sixteen years ago today I was at my state’s Youth Evangelism Conference in Nashville, TN. I was sitting in the basketball arena of Vanderbilt University when I wrote in the margin my blue leather NIV tabbed Bible next to Proverbs 3, a prayer surrendering my dating life to the Lord. However, it is what’s not written that means more to me about that day than those few sentences of surrender alone. I remember looking over to my mom who was one of our chaperones for that trip and telling her “I think the Lord is calling me to ministry.” She smiled that all-knowing mom smile … you know the one that says “I already knew this.” … and asked if I wanted to go forward as she would go with me. I shook my head no.
I wasn’t ready then. I was so scared that He was going to call me to missions that I didn’t want to surrender at that point, plus I didn’t know what I was truly surrendering too. I mean I knew ministry … it was my whole life. I am a pastor’s kid but what would ministry for me look like? I don’t believe in women being called as pastors of churches so I knew that wasn’t it. (On a side note, if you are woman pastor … your calling is between you and the Lord. I am not going to tell you that you haven’t been called. I just know that I have not because my understanding of scripture is that a man is to be the head of the church like he is to be the head of the home. I truly believe this but I respect you for doing something I believe is incredibly hard.) I knew I could be on staff at a church as a women’s director or a children’s director. I knew I could serve Him by ministering through music on a full-time basis but that would take a mighty move of the Lord for that to happen. I’ll be honest, I figured He was calling me to something far worse than missions. I figured he would just have me marry a pastor and I would serve as a pastor’s wife. Oh the horror!
It was after I had seen a husband preach and his wife sing before his message that I surrendered to the call on my life. I surrendered in June of 2000 at the age of 16. In my mind, the Lord had laid out His plan for my life through the ministry of my friends Rob and Jill Callistro. I wanted to do what they were doing. Each using their gifts and talents to minister and share the Gospel. Their ministry was so different from your typical pastor’s family because at that point Rob was a traveling evangelist and Jill went with him. I was good with that. I would totally sign up for that call. Yep, let’s hit the road, Baby. I’ll sing and you’ll preach. We’ll lead people to Christ, encourage the local pastor’s family and then move on to the next church. It was and still is a beautiful aspiration but the problem is … there’s no guy! Besides who in their right mind would actually want to be a pastor’s wife or an evangelist’s wife?
Ministry is hard. Being in the family of someone in the ministry can be straight up awful. My mother is the most amazing woman I know. Her spiritual gift of mercy balances my dad’s gift of prophecy in a way that only God could have designed. I wonder even now if my mom has teeth marks from biting her tongue over the years but I am pretty sure she doesn’t as it is not in her nature to lash out anyway. But I will give you a head’s up if you start to hear her say “Jehovah God” it’s best to just get out of the way because that means someone has finally broken through her almost impenetrable wall and she is praying for the Spirit to take over her flesh. And when that has happened chances are you have said something really ugly about my dad or you have unjustly criticized her children. Oh, and don’t even think about EVER saying anything negative about my nephew or any future nieces or nephews. You won’t have to worry about hearing my mom say “Jehovah God” because I will be coming at you full swing. 🙂 Anyway, I digress … my family is not violent by nature but ministry can call to violent side in you. Seriously. It can.
Ministry is lonely. You never know who you can trust, especially if you are working in a church. I have had people, that I thought I could trust, take a conversation we had and throw it back in my dad’s face at a committee meeting. But since I have always been honest with my parents, my dad already knew of the conversation and knew that they were twisting the meaning of my words to try to hurt him. That lie was quickly stopped. Sometimes the PKs are popular in the church youth group and sometimes they are not. And heaven forbid, you be an introvert as well! Which is something I have only discovered in the last 6 years about myself … this would have saved me a ton of grief during my teen years when it came to certain events that I just didn’t want to participate in. But to this day, I still struggle with trust … I have set up some walls where, yes, I will tell you my life story but you won’t know my true feelings on any given situation. I have been told that my face reveals everything I am feeling but I think most would be surprised to know that they have only been given a glimpse at what I am processing. I have 6 precious girlfriends all from my different churches and various life stages that I truly trust. 3 are 10 years older than me. 3 are my age or slightly younger. All of these friendships except 1 came about in my 20s and all of these friendships have seen me through so hard ministry stuff. Only two of these friendships started while my dad was their pastor too. It’s just too hard.
So why would I want to surrender to that?
Because ministry is also one of the most beautiful things I have ever been a part of it. I have 6 amazing friendships with some wonderful women that I wouldn’t have were it not for my dad’s ministry. Ministry calls to me like nothing else can. It’s in my soul. Ministry causes you to step out of your comfort zone, acknowledge your weakness and fully rely on His strengths to get you through a situation. It wipes you out and He fills you up. And just when you have nothing left to give He breathes a fresh word or gives you a new perspective that spurs you on for His glory.
Ministry isn’t about you. It’s about Him. At least it is when it’s done the right way.
I don’t know what the Lord has in store for me but I feel like this year is marking a turning point in my life and I am pretty sure it is not to be a pastor’s wife. Praise you, Jesus!! However, after finally accepting, at 19, that I needing to surrender to whatever He may call me to … even foreign missions I will bear whatever cross He gives me. (Feel free to applaud now. Just kidding.) In all seriousness, though, I believe I am being called to the hard but I know it will also be beautiful. In the meantime, I am seeking His direction and trusting His hand.
It feels weird to be able to say that 16 years ago I was 16 but it’s true. There is something about this year … I can feel it with every fiber of my being … it going to be hard and beautiful … for now, it’s going to be lonely … and I can’t wait but I am until He says go.
I love you all!
– Melody Faith