You will never see me teaching Sunday School to children.
It took me years to be able to say that without embarrassment. What kind of person isn’t willing to teach children? Does Gina not like children? Does she not see the great potential in shepherding young souls? These are the questions I was sure people would ask.
When my kids were little, and someone stood up front at church to talk about how important children’s ministry is (I swear in the background I could hear Whitney Houston singing, “I believe the children are our future . . .”) I would sink down in my seat, refusing to make eye contact, feeling terrible.
Then, one day, it hit me, “I am not called to this.” And suddenly I was free. I felt like Phoebe, in the pilot episode of Friends:
I don’t want to because it’s not what I’m supposed to do. I am called to other activities, things that you probably don’t want to do. I know this, because often when I tell people what I enjoy doing, they get a look on their face like they just smelled something weird. They would hate what I love. And that is as it should be. We weren’t all given the same passions or gifts. How boring would that be? And ineffective. This isn’t Divergent. Five factions isn’t going to cut it.
Since coming back to the States, I have had opportunities to minister in a variety of ways unavailable to me overseas, which is fabulous. What’s hard is being discerning about what I should and shouldn’t do.
At first, I felt I should say yes to everything because if I didn’t they might stop offering. Over time I’ve learned that when I say no to less ideal opportunities, it leaves space to pursue that which I love. God knows the good way I should walk, and He can guide me to the best yeses. There is great freedom and joy in knowing that I am learning to give my time to what I am created to do, rather than just doing what I see, or what is asked of me. I want to give my energy to the activities God has for me, not what others want me to do.
Also important is knowing that, in saying no, I am leaving space for someone who truly IS called to do that. And I hope she does. She probably will, because she wants to say yes. And I will say yes somewhere else. There, we will both find joy and life.
So go ahead, ask me to teach Sunday School. I will politely decline and feel no remorse. It’s just not my calling.
What about you? What are you saying yes to today?