This summer, I had the opportunity to serve as an intern at my church (Vineyard Community Church) here in Tuscaloosa. I debated for a few weeks about whether or not to submit my application, and I think I even submitted my application on the deadline. Not that I was wavering between wanting and not wanting to learn about ministry, but because I knew it would be difficult and that there would be much required of me. James 3:1 warns us, "Not many of you should presume to be teachers [leaders], my brothers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly."
Thanks, James, for that encouragement... But, his words are true - and rightfully so. And that's what scared me. Big time.
But, I turned the application in and started working as an intern around eight weeks ago. I've been through the gamut of emotions regarding ministry. Excitement, enthrallment, disillusionment, challenge, heartache, frustration, comfort, confusion, awe, joy... you name it, I probably experienced it. I cleaned the church, planned & implemented outreach projects, worked on the website, meet with newcomers, put together communication stuff, led a small group, started another group, went to meetings... and I got engaged right in the middle of it all!!! I really got to jump in and get right in the middle of ministry and loved every moment (even the moments where I thought I'd never want to go to church again because I was so tired!).
The biggest challenge of the internship was something rather unexpected. About half-way through the internship, I started having real trouble keeping up with my memory verses and Bible study. WHAT!? I would go a few days without cracking open the good old B-I-B-L-E! It was such a struggle and the feeling of not wanting to spend time in the Word was the hardest part of the whole summer. I felt like I was really being tested and Satan was feeding me all sorts of lies and half-truths. I was feeling like such a hypocrite. Thankfully, though, I was surrounded by incredibly encouraging people who offered advice and encouragement and helped me get back in the groove.
Anyway, every single struggle or tear or bit of frustration was confirmed yesterday. I knew that all my work would be worth it before I even started the internship because ministry is always worth it and "results" aren't always immediately seen. But, yesterday was a huge blessing and confirmation that everything I went through this summer was for a purpose because it was for the work of God's kingdom.
Yesterday, Jon Handy & I had the honor of teaching the entire church. We talked about service & evangelism, something that we worked on a lot this summer. Right in the middle of my part of the talk, a HUGE group of people (two adults and 8 or 9 kids) that we had met through a recent outreach project showed up at church. I knew they were planning on coming, but after I didn't see them around 10:30, I assumed they weren't going to make it.
But, God had a surprise planned... and they were it. I wanted to drop the microphone, run and hug them, and cry. I was just so happy to see them, so happy to know that God was watching what we were doing, and that He sent THEM to ME to affirm what the Lord has been doing in and through me all summer.
In the end, all the hard work was worth it. God is moving in our church and in our city and it is such an honor to be a part of what He's doing. I can't wait to see what's next.