Monday, July 14, 2014

Humility - Melissa

“Maybe this isn’t the right ministry for you.”
I listened to the woman explain that perhaps the frustrations I was experiencing in this new ministry endeavor were because it wasn’t a good fit for my personality and giftings.  I was crushed.  I tried to keep the tears from rolling down my cheeks and nodded to show her that I was listening. 

I had been invited to this meeting to discuss how things were going and specifically whether or not the training I had received three months prior had equipped me for the task I was currently doing.  I had prepared for the meeting by going over my training notes and comparing what was written on paper with what actually had transpired.  There was so much more I wished I had been told before I plunged into this new world.  I had carefully created a list on my iPhone of things that the trainer might consider adding into the first few weeks with the next trainee.  I had prayed for a calm spirit to express how I felt because I knew that my feelings of frustration were super-charged with emotion as I felt this organization had “left me in the dust” so to speak. 

In the first few minutes of the meeting I had expressed my concerns with the way the organization had communicated (or rather, didn’t communicate) with me.  I spoke about how I felt lost in the whirlwind of policies, appointments, and paperwork because I had never been exposed to these things before.  I wished out loud that there would have been someone a bit more experienced who could have led me through the process to hold my hand and answer my questions.  And most importantly, I opened up to tell her that I didn’t feel like I had forged a good relationship with the people I had been “assigned to” because of the vast communication barriers.  

This ministry opportunity was supposed to be a wonderful cross-cultural experience in my own backyard, but it had turned into an inconvenient, confusing, drain on my time and emotions.  What had gone wrong?? 

I was sure my failure was due to an insufficient training process and a lack of support from the organization I was partnering with.  When the staff member had patiently listened to my frustrations, I was not encouraged by her answer.  Telling me that I was not cut out for the role was not what I was expecting.  In fact—I’ll be honest—I was mad. 

Shouldn’t she take at least some of the responsibility?  Didn’t she feel sorry for not supporting me when I asked for help a few weeks back? 

Telling me that the frustrations I was feeling were rooted in my own inadequacies was not helpful. 

Unfortunately, this is the third disappointing ministry experience I’ve had since I moved back to the US.  First it was volunteering at a local elementary school.  As a (former) classroom teacher, I fully expected to be given the most challenging volunteer tasks and the most difficult students to work with (after explaining my background and training to the teacher I was volunteering with).  But no.  Instead, she barely spoke to me all year and gave me jobs like putting stickers on art projects and monitoring the kids while she picked up her printing from the other room. 

Then it was the after school program with refugee kids.  I worked through part of a school year hoping things would “pan out” but in the end, I left feeling disappointed and frustrated that I could not make a difference like I had envisioned.  Definitely not what I had pictured.  And now this.  Another blow to the ego.

God, did I pray for humility?  Am I just not satisfied because my life in America is not like it was in Papua New Guinea?  There I had purpose.  Every day.  Now I feel like I am wandering through life, making mistakes and wasting time.  What do you want me to do with my life?

Then, of course, friends will ask how my week is going or “what I’m up to” and I get that failure feeling all over again because I don’t feel like I have any good stories to tell. 

This past weekend, I learned the phrase “failing forward” to describe how I don’t have to be afraid of messing up as long as I am learning from my mistakes.  Someone else described this idea as the action-reflection cycle.  She encouraged me to take a step in the direction I felt that God was leading me and then stop and reflect on how it went.  If something failed, that’s ok because I could learn from it and try something different. 

I suppose this is what grace is all about.  Have you been learning humility and grace lately?  What does it look like in your life?


  1. Very beautifully putt friend. Life is full of times of taking steps, waiting for directions, and looking for instructions. I pray that as you go though this time that you can continue to find the humor and growing moments that will become foundations for others to learn from as well. Love you friend!

    P.S. I love hearing about your day. Period. :)

  2. Keith and Melissa, I can most certainly relate in the difference between where you think life is going to go and where it actually ends. I have seen the whole dynamic of thinking you are destined to lead and you find yourself in what seems like the shadows and not making much of a difference. In essence, dreams crushed.

    I am only starting to see the rebound but it seems to have something to do with the fact that God's time scale is completely different than ours. So is His measure of influence. He's looking back at us from the standpoint of eternity future and see's us just starting out in our eternal relationship with Him. When we want to feel like we are making a difference, he measures the differences made for eternal goals. As much as we want to be doing things, I wonder if it comes down to smiling at the right person, engaging in conversation during a divine appointment and seeking to be where God wants us to be at the right time, in the right place, with the right words and actions.

    It is so not easy, and the path is one of the roughest rides you'll ever take but God is faithful. Keep your eyes on Him.