I can remember when I was 17 years old God planted a different seed in my heart. I found myself as an upperclassman on a team with young talent. And I can still remember how God placed something different in my heart to become an encourager to them to reach their full potential when it came to athletics. God was developing my identity in Him as well as growing a desire to reach others with the gospel of Jesus. To live truth. Speak truth. Be truth. This transferred to my college life as well as the heartbeat of my life became encouraging others. I poured out to others around me over and over again celebrating the victories and success of others with them. God grew and grew the seed that had been planted into my heart each year adding something new.
And so, becoming a teacher was no accident. To teach is to change a life forever. Teachers pour out to their students on a daily basis, loving them for the time that they have them in their classroom. Teaching was just an extension of ministry for me, as was coaching. A few victories I remember, but more than that, I remember the people that were beside me at that time. I can tell you the name of each of those players on each team along with countless others who came out of my classroom, achieving more than they believed they every would. Because to me it was never about the numbers but it was about the people. To me what mattered most was that those young people who I had influence over had their feet planted in a direction that would give them the best start on their adult lives. To me what mattered more is that they had truth and freedom in their lives.
Cultivating their character, self-worth, empathy for others and strength were emphasized just as much as if they could translate a DNA strand or finish their lay-up. My heart was to take a child who believed he was just average and wasn’t motivated and light a spark in them to believe that they could achieve what they put their mind to. Winning was great and I know that the success my girls had on the court and in the classroom translated to building their character. They learned that hard work and dedication produced the results that they wanted. Doing something over and over again until it became natural was an important skill. But it taught just as much about being dedicated as it did winning a game. And so to see them celebrate their victories was rewarding to me. But as they continued on in life, it was just as rewarding seeing them pursuing a career, becoming teachers themselves with that same passion to push others, or hearing their stories of working in a lab and the projects they are trying to complete.
Why did I do what I did? Why do I do what I do now? Why have I been to Virginia, Slippery Rock and Guatemala? It’s all for one purpose. Ministry. Life to me is just ministry wherever God may take me. A classroom, a court, a house, the market.
My life in the states has had the pattern of having a job that became my ministry. More undercover. In my move to Guatemala, my ministry became my job and the switch impacts all that you do and how you do it. There was no undercover work to be done. People knew your purpose. You were vulnerable. You were exposed. When your life carries the label of working IN ministry, there are different expectations upon you. And to be honest, they are harder than when you have a job where you CHOOSE when to reach out in ministry.
And so the big question for me was, in what order would God place me for my next position? Would I have a job that I created ministry out of? Or would I have a ministry that was my job? It looks like God wants to keep me exposed. Keep me vulnerable. And keep me pouring out.
I have transitioned myself to a position within the CCO (Coalition for Christian Outreach). The CCO works to transform college students to transform the world. In a way I feel like I have the opportunity to multiply myself. To instill that passion I have to reach others within the students with whom I am working. It is a partnership opportunity where I will be working both on Grove City College campus and Slippery Rock University as well as reaching out to 18-24 year olds in this area. And so. This is where I stand now. Here. With my heart outside of my body exposed. Ahhhh.
I am still letting that truth settle in. That this next journey of my life will be a challenge. That I am choosing to call my career ministry. To define my life and my identity by ministry and not by teaching. I am choosing to be criticized by others. I am choosing to battle for the hearts and lives of young people without the shield of a different title in front of me.
My heart remains the same – to see lives transformed and feet planted firmly in the direction of their calling. And so, will you pray with me as we continue to plan for what this will look like on these campuses and within this community. This is where God has me. This is where God is working in me. May we press on one day at a time.