Thursday, October 05, 2006

Perspectives

What does an executive director of a national women's organization have in common with an associate pastor of a church? Many things. Both jobs require well beyond the traditional 9 to 5 work week in addition to specialized and often intense ministry.

Virginia Holmstrom is approachable, down to earth, and well versed in issues that affect her constituency - American Baptist Women. LeAnn Gunter is energetic, creative, and cares deeply for her congregation - Peachtree Baptist Church. Read below as both share issues pertaining to their ministries.

Editor's note: Sparkfly realizes that thankfully, not all women who read this blog are Baptist. It just so happens that today's contributors are.

1 Comments:

Blogger April said...

The subject of our deepest needs, especially in ministry, is one of profound importance, as we get caught up in the hectic pace of daily life. Thank you for sharing these candid thoughts! I empathize and am learning from you.

When I committed to go back to Mexico, I decided to fast from coffee and hot chocolate, two things that I like and that are not readily available in Siglo Veintiuno. This was not a decision of great sacrifice or discipline or piety; it was something a friend of a friend told me she did in preparation for her mission trip to Belize. She had found it to be a very meaningful way to focus-every time she was used to having a coke, which she couldn't have in Belize anyway, she prayed for her Mayan sisters.

What a simple and satisfying way to cement a commitment! I thought. And how fitting!

I must admit, my friends, that I have fallen short in this goal. I have to rise before 3:30am for my morning shift as baker at a bagel shop, a brief part-time job, and I have been drinking coffee the past few days.

I realize that this slip-up is not what really matters, but it does signify something greater. How deep is my commitment, truly? While God is ever-near, I am not maintaining a balance between my personal life, the day-to-day, got-to-eat-to-live one, and my visionary life, the one that belongs to other people, to people in Mexico, to God. And therein lies the root of the problem: my whole life belongs to God in the first place. But I cannot keep it together in a neat little package. How do I connect with God when I'm doing the grunt work that pays for the more gratifying work?

These are the very moments I need to feel closest to God, through the tedious tasks and the mundane. We all need purpose in our lives, and yet we still need to grow in understanding, in what that purpose actually is.

Right now I am reading a book called "girl meets GOD" by Lauren Winner, a young Jewish woman, about her conversion to Christianity. In the chapter about Lent, she describes her experience in fasting from something her pastor identified as dearest to her: reading. This woman, a graduate student, loved books, and used reading to numb any feelings of despair. She used reading for company, for pleasure, for knowledge. Through her fast, however, she learned, when stuck in sadness and mistakes, to take them to God, moving her closer to Jesus and to her knees. And she came to appreciate books even more.

Sacrifices, even small ones, are not easy, but they move us closer to God and are useful in thinking about missions, realistically and holistically. How thankful I am for God's grace and room to make mistakes and for God's faithfulness to keep me on track despite myself!

Today I had the opportunity to hear from a young woman who recently gave up on Mormonism and learn from her testimony as a Christian. She said the main thing she remembers from her Mormon background is the constant, nagging guilt of not measuring up, of never being good enough. Now, she said, she can stand tall and free in a relationship with Christ, refreshed and full in God's purpose.

11:15 AM  

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