I was recently asked to speak at a Ladies Day where I previously attended church for 25 years. This is the church where I “grew up”. Not grew from child to adult but from “believer to follower”. And that growth continues still.
My talk was to be on my acts of service while I was there. And mainly concerning one specific area of service. It was interesting as I started typing that in about 3 minutes or less I could say what I had to say about me and my service but when I started adding the part that God played in the process of my service, it became much more.
The bible is very specific and shows many examples of people doing service. But if we’ve never even read the bible or been taught then where do we start? 2 Corinthians 9:12-13 is a good place!
2 Corinthians 9:12-13 (ESV) For the ministry of this service is not only supplying the needs of the saints but is also overflowing in many thanksgivings to God. By their approval of this service, they will glorify God because of your submission that comes from your confession of the gospel of Christ, and the generosity of your contribution for them and for all others,
If we want to glorify God and we know that He placed us here on earth with a purpose and prepared us before we were formed with His gifts, then we must start! There is no better time to start than now!
I would like to share with you, what I shared with my friends and sister’s in Christ about my beginning in service.
Hi, I’m Rhonda Gould. I attended Friendly Ave for 25 years and moved from NC to KY, 7 years ago. For those of you who know me, bare with me. For those you who don’t, here’s a little about me. I moved to NC from TX in 1986 and began attending Friendly Ave, I came with a husband and a 2 yr old son. During my time here I had another son and divorced after 10 years of marriage and remarried a year and ½ later. Many of the women in this room raised their children along side of me. Many of the women in this room have seen me and my family in joyous times and in some, not so joyous. Many of the women in this room have seen me soar with the Lord and have seen me back slide. I am a rather normal woman. God created me a very shy and introverted girl but has shown me that if I’m willing to say “YES” then He will give me the power and the courage to follow His lead.
Nicole asked me to talk about my time here and in what capacity I served this church family. I have served in many different capacities at Friendly, some were more behind the scenes and some more up front. The one that I’m going to focus on today is my service with ERLTC, if you don’t know what that is, it’s Eastern Region Leadership Training for Christ, which is a youth ministry for the Eastern USA. I won’t go into all the details of the program because the leaders here now can share that with you, but that role was where the growth in me started through the leading of the Holy Spirit.
Now for a little history, Friendly Ave was involved in a program called Lads to Leaders for years. That is where I began my journey in service as an adult. Initially, I was a co-leader for a puppet team. That’s it! A far behind the scenes role and that is what I liked. The leaders of the program at that time were moving out of state and they needed someone to head up the whole program for Friendly. One day, 2 ladies came to me and encouraged me to take that role. Their words I fully don’t remember but I do remember them saying, “I believe you can do this!”. Yes, me a behind the scene puppet coach moving into a role of leader of the whole program. Now, I really wasn’t of the same heart as Isaiah, saying “here I am Lord, send me”. Initially I said, “No way can I do that”, but after praying about it (and honestly probably not much of that), my spirit was encouraged and through them the Holy Spirit pushed me to say “Yes”. That was the beginning that lead to today.
I did take the role and got to work. I used the gift of administration that God had given me. Boy was I scared! Public speaking…… NO way! But I said “Yes”! We rolled along for about 2 years and several of the parents came to me and asked that I look into the LTC program out of Texas. I did and after many meetings it was decided that Friendly Ave would begin the LTC program. Because of the way LTC is structured, LTC for the Eastern Region had to be created from the ground up. So, we had a meeting with several eastern region Churches of Christ leaders and leaders of the Texas LTC program and wyaalaa the Eastern Regional LTC was born. During that meeting of the leaders, which was the beginning of a Board of Directors, it was said that someone had to be the Board Chairman and they all pointed to me. Yes, the behind the scene puppet coach was now being asked to head up the Eastern Region. YIKES! But at this point my initial “YES” several years prior, placed me in a position of being all in. So off we went. I and another leader flew to Dallas for a quick training and then had our first ERLTC convention in 2004. I served as board chairman for that program for 9 years and happily, but sadly, passed it on to another capable leader when we moved to Kentucky.
I served through several roles in these ministries for over 14 years. Part of that time my children were involved and part of it they were not, because they had aged out. My husband was not involved but he supported me wholeheartedly. There were times when the ministry took more of my time than others but the 1 thing I had to always remember was that God put me here to serve my husband and my family first and then others. As long as my husband knew that he was a priority, he supported me in whatever I felt I needed to do. That can be a challenge at times in the church because we can feel like it’s our spiritual duty to serve others and it is, but not at the expense of our families or our own sanity. Self-love, family love and then other love.
Luke 12:34 For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.
Were there challenges? Sure! Did each one of those challenges push me a bit more towards being who God created me to be? Sure did! Let me tell you what I’m not. I’m not the perfect wife, mom, friend or church goer. I’m not an educated professional. I’m not a bible scholar or trained speaker. I’m simply a child of God who decided to say “Yes”.
I’m just ordinary. Nothing special. Just willing.
There are many ordinary people in the bible, God told Noah to build a boat, Job was tested by God, Moses lead God’s people out of Egypt, David killed Goliath and became the second king of Israel, Daniel slept with Lions, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego danced in fire with Jesus, Ester went before the king and saved her people and Peter healed many. They were just ordinary people.
In each of their specific services or roles on their path, I’m sure there were challenges, but they knew that God sent them, and he would carry them through.
Acts 4:13 says, “When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished, and they took note that these men had been with Jesus.”
I definitley didn’t handle each challenge perfectly every time. But I can tell you that each time I forgot that my strength and courage was coming from God and not myself, is when I tripped up. Now 20 years or so down the road, I’m learning to trust in Him, pray to Him and wait for Him more.
I want to reference Nehemiah. He was a Jewish cup bearer of the King of Persia. He was part of a group of Jews that was carried away into captivity by the Babylonians. Nehemiah asked a friend what had happened to the other Jews and what was the condition of the city of Jerusalem. What he learned saddened him. He tearfully poured out his heart to God confessing the sins of his people and asking for deliverance. Not long after, while Nehemiah was serving the king, the king noticed Nehemiah’s sadness. Nehemiah was struck with fear when the king inquired about his sadness. However, He immediately prayed to God about the matter. From that point on, Nehemiah found the King to be very accommodating in his sympathy and support for him. What started out as an ordinary day, ended up with the king providing Nehemiah the permission, the passage, the materials, and the help to return to Jerusalem to rebuild the walls of the city. Through this process, Nehemiah was able to plan the project without interference, put the right people in the roles that needed their specific expertise and skills, and maintain his humility as servant by praying for his wayward brethren and himself (Nehemiah 13:29-31).
Point being, he was an ordinary man, with an ordinary profession, who loved his people and was saddened by their disobedience and he felt deep fear. First thing he did was “cry out”, pray for them, asked for deliverance and he saw change and was provided for.
This is what I feel like is key to leading a successful ministry. Understanding that those serving beside you are simple, ordinary people. Love them so deeply that their weaknesses sadden you and you cry out to God for them. Remember that you also are ordinary and extend GRACE in heavy doses to all involved. Continue to cry out, pray, to God as it says in Nehemiah 13:31 “Remember me, my God, with your kindness”.
The greatest blessing that I have had in the areas of service that I do, is watching others bloom. I simply do as those 2 ladies did for me and recognize other’s gifts and skills and ask them to be involved. Don’t be afraid to allow others to soar higher than yourself and don’t make it a race, let it be a journey. That is key!
In his book, “If you want to walk on water then you must get out of the boat”, John Ortberg says, “There is always a changed life. Those who say yes to God’s call don’t walk the walk perfectly – not by a long shot. But because they say yes to God, they learn and grow even from their failures. And they become part of His actions to redeem the world.”
I have been blessed far beyond anything I could have imagined just because I was willing to say “YES”.
As a new Christian I had a women that loved me enough to walk with me in the area of service by serving with me. And from there God grew and blessed her efforts by placing me in positions to grow.
Where to start? Here & Now and Bring someone along with you.
Thank you Lord for placing people on my path to encourage me and thank you for giving me the courage to say Yes to service.