Last week I read a post somewhere; I cannot remember where, and I do not really want to link to it because I did not agree with it. BUT it has made me think, so it had that going for it.
The post brought me back to sitting around the campfire with a group after a backpacking trip. I shared my life story and the leader said, "Wow, God is going to use you in a great way." I remember it so clearly. And then I remember speaking to a group after a trip to Russia and again, someone came up to me and reiterating this sentiment: "God is going to really use you!" A little fire was lit in me, and this hope began that God had a great plan for my life.
I kind of thought the great plan would look a little different than being a stay-at-home, home-schooling mom. I thought maybe it would involve feeding kids in Africa, speaking at women's conferences, or writing a book - something, something great, right?
The writer of the blog was talking about only doing what God has called us to do. She suggested that if we are called to a job in marketing, for example, but we spend our time doing odd jobs around the house, then we are not doing a service to God; we are wasting out time. (I am admittedly paraphrasing and interpreting here, so her actual intention may have been a bit different, but that's how I read it.) The point was that, yes, we should do what God has called us to do and not other things we have not been called to do. After all we are all given gifts from God. Some are called to be leaders; others are called to be janitors, right? But is there anyone who is really called to be a janitor? We have an itch to find exactly what God has called us to do. We spend time doing spiritual gift inventories, trying to find what God has gifted us in and thus called us to do in the Church; we try out different careers; we pray for guidance regarding what God wants us to do. But we do not want to do the little things, the things that waste our time, because God has called us to do greater things, right?
I remember being at a church that would not let people serve in children's ministry unless that person felt that such service was their particular calling. But honestly, how many parents, who already spend their days taking care of little kids, want to serve by taking care of little kids instead of going in and worshiping with grown ups? I know there are some, but they are few and far between. And in this church, that was evidently the case. There was never enough people to serve, and there was always a wait list to get your kids into the nursery due to the lack of workers. Sometimes, we need to serve in the littler things that are oh-so-important. Children's ministry may be a bad example because there is an obvious purpose to it; you are loving on the little hearts of children. Clearly children were (and are) dear to Jesus's heart, and perhaps we can see the benefit of serving in this way. But what about the calling to clean the church? What about the person that works as a cashier at Wal-Mart? Or the waitress at Perkins who gets up at 4 a.m. to serve coffee and breakfast to people going to "real" jobs, so that she can pay the bills? Is she doing what God has called her to do? Maybe so. I do not know, and I do not know why it irritates me so much to hear (or read) that only those serving in a "ministry position" are doing what God has called them to do. Perhaps this is just my struggle.
We are to be faithful in the little things, and this is where I struggle. I want to do the big things. But what if, for that reason, I am not being faithful in the little things? "Little things" like raising my children; "little things" like cleaning my house with a thankful heart that I have one. What if Romans 12:1-2 is true, which says, "Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of Gods mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God - this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is - his good, pleasing and perfect will." St. Paul does go on to say that we are given gifts and we should use those gifts, but God's will, his good, perfect and pleasing will is to not conform to the pattern of this world; to live a changed life; to serve faithfully in whatever we are doing, offering all of our lives to God. It does not say to not do the little things. In fact, God's judgment of what is little and what is big is often different than our own: "[Jesus] said to them, 'You are the ones who justify yourselves in the eyes of others, but God knows your hearts. What people value highly is detestable in God's sight.'" (Luke 16:15). And as far as the "little things" are concerned, they are the measuring rod, for God, of what we can be trusted with. To again quote Jesus, "'Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much...'" (Luke 16:10).
By no means do I mean we should not be faithful to what God calls us to do. My husband is an incredibly talented artist and teacher. And I think he should be teaching and painting. But does that mean he should not do the dishes? That doing so is not using his time wisely? Does that mean he should not mow the grass, even if he hates it? Or that, when doing so, he is not doing the things God has called him to do? I do not think so. And I think there are people who serve in the church in ways that do not come with some supernatural empowerment or "gifting," but they are still serving God faithfully. They are being faithful in the "little things" and are aware of the higher calling - a call to serve faithfully in the place God has placed them.