Today’s guest blog is written by Jimmie Davis, girls’ minister and author. She’s also one of the most humble women of God you’ll ever meet. http://blogs.lifeway.com/blog/girlsministry/
While I was at LifeWay for a conference two years ago, Pam Gibbs handed me the book Strengthening the Soul of Your Leadership by Ruth Haley Barton, and told me it was a “must read” for anyone in ministry. I read a few chapters and it was extremely convicting, so I politely put it away not to pick it up again until a few months ago. Since that time, the Lord has used this book to remind me that who I am personally is intricately interwoven into my ministry with teenage girls, but my ministry does not define me.
In the book, Ruth uses the life of Moses as a prime example. She points out that growing up Moses didn’t really know if he was an Egyptian or a Hebrew. He didn’t really know who his mama was and certainly was confused at the deep compassion he felt for the injustices shown to the Hebrew people even though he was raised as an Egyptian, the son of Pharaoh’s daughter. Moses’ built-up anger over his life’s circumstances came out when he saw an Egyptian being cruel to a Hebrew and his rage turned into murder. Moses fled to the desert and had to spend forty years in solitude with God to let the dust settle so he could clearly see and settle his identity crisis. Finally when Moses had spent enough time in silence, God called and he was ready to listen. Moses’ personality, his handicap, his upbringing, his heritage, and his very own story equipped him to go and face Pharaoh, lead the Hebrew children out of bondage, survive in the dessert for forty more years, and fulfill God’s plan for his life.
I’m not saying you have to spend forty years in silence; what person can do that, really? However, I have learned that spending time in solitude before God will allow the dust to settle and you will be able to see who you are and hear God’s call of leadership. In times of solitude, God will remind you that you are not defined by your ministry, but you are defined by His presence in your life. Solitude in the presence of God on your leadership journey will keep you close to Him and that is completely satisfying.
The book also points out that God led Moses to the top of Mount Nebo and showed him the Promised Land. God told him that he could see it, but he would never go there. No argument, no response; Moses was completely satisfied. Barton says, “He no longer needed a role, a task, or responsibility to define him. For him, the presence of God was his promised land.”
This is a painful reality in ministry. We might have a great vision for girls’ ministry and serve long and hard, but for some reason God removes us from our place of service. Like Moses, maybe someone else will come in and take your vision to a new and different level. When the presence of God defines you, there will be no argument, no response; you will be completely at peace with whatever circumstance comes your way. I encourage you to seek Him in solitude today—for that is the place where the peace comes.