I have been in the “search mode,” looking for a ministry placement. A week ago a really amazing church contacted me about an open position and invited me for an interview. I was so excited that I called lots of family members and friends, but instead of hearing words of encouragement, many of them questioned my readiness for this position. Several of them told me I was not qualified and that the church really not a good fit for me. All their negative comments have left me uncertain about my gifts and abilities, and now I am confused about whether or not to even pursue this position. I don’t even know if I want to go to the interview.
With Friends Like These
Family and friends surprise us sometimes, don’t they? By failing to give support. By forgetting to support and encourage. By missing the moment for affirmation.
I know you are hurt and confused by their reactions, and they certainly have made it harder for you to remember your sense of calling, to keep believing in yourself, and to be faithful in seeking to discern God’s place. Friends and family who know you best usually provide one of the best gages of “rightness” of a decision. So perhaps you should pause and “hear” what they are saying as best you can. Do they truly sense that this position would be an unhealthy and hurtful place for you? Is God seeking to speak through them to you? Are they praying for you and with you and feel lead to discourage your interest? Ask them. Go to those who are your closest family members and friends and ask them about their concerns. You will never know their reasoning unless you ask.
A second consideration is that your friends and family might be jealous of your opportunity. They might be concerned that you will move further away or be too busy for them in the future. So go ask them. Ask them if their hesitation is about losing a closeness with you. Ask them if they are speaking out of their own desire to be near you. You will never know their reasoning unless you ask them.
A final consideration is that you need to be doing your own discernment work. Find a trusted mentor who has your best ministerial interest at heart—and ask for his insight. Seek out a pastor who knows and loves you and ask her about your readiness for ministry. Asking for advice outside your closest circles of family and friends may provide a more thoughtful and helpful response. But more important than anything else, set some time apart to be alone, to pray, to sit in silence and listen. Listen for God. Listen to God. Ask God for guidance.
Blessings on you as you ask!
If you have a question for Dear Addie, please send them to firstname.lastname@example.org.
*The photo of Addie Davis is provided courtesy of Special Collections, Jack Tarver Library, Mercer University, Macon, Georgia.