A few days ago, I spoke with a woman who is coming into her place in ministry.  God is moving in supernatural ways in her life but she desires to remain grounded in sanity and God’s word.  It is hard to not believe your own press releases, even if you know you are the person who wrote them. 

S/he is a wise person who will follow Paul’s advice given to Timothy in his first letter chapter three.  Paul told his young disciple that Timothy should prove himself first.  The Bible often speaks of the importance of the church not fostering the promotion of the novice.  However, this is a different warning.  Paul puts the responsibility for monitoring on the back of the young pastor, Timothy.  As he was being promoted, Paul said that it was Timothy’s responsibility to see that he had been proven. 

About ten years ago, a young woman in Special Gathering came to me.  She had just graduated from high school.  Minnie is high functioning and possesses the A-typical Downs Syndrome personality–pleasant, kind and amiable.   Minnie was also ambitious.  She wanted to be made a deacon.  Other than her youth, she seemed to be qualified.  I explained to her that she would have to wait until she was older in the Lord.

Amazingly, Minnie didn’t argue with me.  Minnie was willing to wait.  However, she didn’t sit idly by as she waited.  She worked at any job that came across her path.  She began to write poetry.  Her writings are often published in our monthly newsletter.  She moved chairs.  She helped serve food.  She pushed wheelchairs.  No job was too large or too small for her to tackle.

After almost a decade, Minnie is ready to fulfill her dream of becoming a deacon.  Of course, there needs to be a vote from the congregation, but everyone  in Special Gathering recognizes her leadership. 

The thing that has impressed me about Minnie has been her willingness to prove herself before she is given a title.  She still has a great desire to be a leader but she has come to understand that leadership in the Church is an outgrowth of servanthood–not prestige.

As a young woman I had one friend with whom I could be totally honest.  I remember a telephone conversation in which I blurted out, “I have something to say!”  I can imagine my friend’s smile as she held the phone to her ear. 

“I know,” she said, “But if that is true, you will be wise to wait until God opens the doors for you to teach and minister.” 

It was a long, hard wait; but somehow from that conversation, God gave me the grace to monitor myself.  Perhaps it was the silliness I felt after I blurted out what my heart-felt.  However, even after four books were published and there were lots of opportunities to be published and to speak, I knew there was something missing in my ministry.  When I walked into my first Special Gathering, I found the essential, missing piece. 

Specialized ministry isn’t a showy place in the church or a spectacular splash.  But it is where I belong and I’ll be eternally grateful for my wise friend who gently scolded me and gave the same advice Paul gave his young protegé.  “Prove yourself first.  Then move into what God has called you to do.”