Have you received your call to launch or lead ministry? It’s that indescribable, undeniable urging that won’t go away. Is God calling you to missionary work, teaching an online Bible study, leading a small group in your living room, serving in children’s ministry, becoming a foster parent or starting a cancer support group? When your call came, perhaps your palms sweat, your heart beat wildly or you awakened in the middle of the night. Or maybe it was a simple realization about using your unique gifts and life experiences to glorify God. Ninety year old Sarah laughed to herself when she heard her call to motherhood (Genesis 18:12). Moses heard his call through a burning bush (Genesis 3:2-4). The child Samuel received his call three times as he lay in bed one night (1 Samuel 4, 6, 8). Mine came at the most unexpected, inconvenient time in my life. Ask yourself: Is God calling me? Answer His call and keep this survival guide handy.
Survival Tip#1: Enlist Prayer Warriors
I emailed my first prayer request to Sarah’s Laughter explaining my heart’s desire to start an infertility ministry at my home church. Nine months later the first A.B.I.D.E. Ministry infertility support group began. Truly an answer to prayer! If you only remember one survival tip, I hope it’s this one. Surround yourself with prayer warriors who lift you up as you lift your sail and steer into uncharted waters. Prayer will help you armor up as you battle real enemies. You’ll face internal enemies of fear, doubt and discouragement; and you’ll face external attacks from the Enemy of your soul. My prayer warriors are my husband, my family and friends and other ministry leaders. Who are your prayer warriors? Enlist them by calling, texting or emailing to ask for prayer. Inscribe this verse onto the tablet of your heart, “I can do all things through him who give me strength. Yet it was good of you to share in my trouble.” (Philippians 4:13-14) Indeed you can do it this with Christ’s strength and prayer support.
Survival Tip #2: Abide in Christ
Once immersed in the vast ocean called ministry, I quickly realized I was in-over-my-head. I learned to ride the wild-and-wonderful waves of this new calling by deep dependency on Christ. My first ministry (named A.B.I.D.E. Ministry) continues to teach me about the word “abide”. John 15:5 says, “He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.”
Establishing these faith-fueling disciplines keeps me abiding and bearing fruit:
- Bible Study. Reading the Bible every day is my cornerstone. I adjust my bedtime so I awake early to read the One Year Bible. Each week I work through a small group Bible study with other women at my home church—my group recently finished Gideon by Priscilla Shirer and we’ll begin Uninvited by Lysa TerKeurst. My family ends the day reading a Psalm before bedtime.
- Prayer. Communication with my Creator happens through my personal prayer time and group prayer. Most weekday mornings I lace up my shoes for a Prayer Walk around my neighborhood—half the time I listen to the YouVersion Bible app or a podcast* and I pray for the other half. On Friday mornings I co-lead a Moms in Prayer group where women gather in my living room for praise, confession, thanksgiving and intercession for kids, teachers and schools. Finally, my 8-year old son loves leading our family prayer huddle (our quick prayer before we leave home). And instead of ending with the usual “amen” we do one of those team-hand-stacks and we cheer, “Go, Jesus!”
- Fasting. Once I tasted the goodness of God through fasting, my life as a Christian forever changed. My fasting journey began slowly—first during annual fasts with my church, then individually, and now with family and friends. I fast each week and I enter into extended periods of fasting (sometimes alone and sometimes with others). These are two of my favorite articles about fasting Why Should I Fast? 7 Examples of Fasting in the Bible by Kristen Feola and one I wrote called Fasting Like A Child by Christy Nueman.
- A continuous playlist of worship songs fills my mind. I live in surround-sound because my family and friends live-out Ephesians 5:19. “Speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord.” At least once a day I’ll send a text to a friend or receive one with a link to a worship song. I fondly remember one A.B.I.D.E. support group member made compilation worship CDs for the other members—I still have my collection. And recently one of my dearest friends shared a personal story with me about the power of worship music—and it turned into this article called The Anniversary Gift. My current top 5 worship artists are: Elevation Worship, Hillsong, Bethel Worship and Seeds Family Worship.
Take a moment to consider the benefits of adding faith-fueling disciples to your routine. Remember ordinary ministry leaders (like you and me) can do nothing of lasting value apart from Christ, but by abiding in Him, we can do extraordinary things.
Survival Tip #3: Try the Two-By-Two Ministry Model
About a year after its launch, I had to say “good-bye” to A.B.I.D.E. Ministry in San Diego because my little posse moved to Austin. I entrusted my ministry to four compassionate and capable women (members of the A.B.I.D.E. infertility support group) and I provided on-going support. After settling in Austin, my husband and I received the inaudible yet unmistakable call to start another infertility ministry. Before we started this new ministry, I had the opportunity to co-lead a weekly women’s Bible study at my new home church. In less than a year, it grew from 6 to almost 60 women. When our new ministry called Sarah’s Laughter Austin launched, I continued to use the “two-by-two model” (Mark 6:7) which has doubled the blessings and eased the burden. Consider who can co-labor alongside you in ministry. Perhaps it’s your spouse, your sister, another mom in your play group or your next-door neighbor. Partnering with the Hays family from our former home church and the Davidson family in our current home church was a God-send as we launched A.B.I.D.E. Ministry in San Diego and Sarah’s Laughter in Austin.
Survival Tip # 4: Don’t Let Ministry Become Your Mistress
My sweet spot in ministry is leading, speaking and writing. And I hate to admit it, but these passions can easily become my idols (a.k.a. my mistresses). This is a saying I constantly preach to myself: I can’t let my ministry become my mistress. Ministry can be all-consuming, so I need boundaries. One of mine is scheduling time for specific ministry problems and projects. At the appointed time, I eagerly expect “manna” (God’s faithful provision) and without fail God provides. Create healthy boundaries by asking the Holy Spirit to show you what to do, delegate and delete. Don’t let ministry become your mistress.
Survival Tip #5: Learn Your Primary Spiritual Gift & Personality
A turning point happened in the middle of my living room with my husband and two other couples as we worked through the Bible study called Divine Design by Chip Ingram. I learned my primary spiritual gift is leading. Then about a year later my husband started the Meyers Briggs certification process for his job. He affectionately calls me an “extroverted-introvert” (INFJ – Meyers Briggs). Now I know I’m an introverted leader that requires solitude, family time or one-on-one time with a friend to refuel after leading. Since ministry is a family affair for us—and much of our week is devoted to ministry-related activities—I make margin. For instance, I try to keep our Saturdays free from commitments to protect my personal and family time. To be the most effective leader inside and outside of your home, consider what depletes you and what refuels you. If you’re constantly dragging and dipping into your last reserves, discover how to lead using your primary spiritual gift and your unique personality type.
Survival Tip #6: Embrace Small (or Large) Beginnings
Several ministry leaders told me things like, “Don’t be discouraged if your group starts out small.” And I never spoke this out loud, but I secretly prayed, Lord, the smaller the better! Now I know my “small beginnings” prayer had a lot to do with my introverted personality type. God graciously answered my prayer—my new ministry started small. Two precious members came month-after-month to my infertility support group. But I soon became burdened for other hurting hearts and prayed for God to grow our group. New members came. Whether big or small, embrace your beginning. God will equip you and bring you the right people at the right time.
Survival Tip #7: The Joyful Equation
Initially launching and leading ministry felt more like a burden then a blessing. A few months earlier when A.B.I.D.E. Ministry was just a prayer, I had stepped away from my thriving career in Corporate America. But my new dream job (stay-at-home mom) was harder than I ever imagined. This new role overwhelmed me, especially because it included starting a ministry and planning a conference in a few months. And unlike my former job, starting this new ministry didn’t offer a pay check. Our faith stretched as we adjusted to a single income while contributing financially to this new ministry. God faithfully provided for our family’s needs and for the ministry’s needs.
But even after this miraculous provision, I craved confirmation that leading A.B.I.D.E. Ministry was God’s will for us. My lowest point came right after the A.B.I.D.E. Conference.
So I searched stories on the Proverbs 31 Ministries website about trusting God. I found a devotional dated the day before the A.B.I.D.E. Conference—it was about infertility. Hot tears puddled in my eyes and I whispered, “Okay, God. I trust you.” On that day my ever-present Helper consoled my troubled heart. Years later, I keep this simple equation in mind every day: TRUSTFUL + THANKFUL = JOYFUL. When doubts and difficult days come, choose to joyfully trust Him with the ministry entrusted to you.
Survival Tip #8: Compelled by Christ’s Love
There’s a high-cost in launching and leading ministry. But if you ask a seasoned ministry leader they’ll tell you it’s worth it! For instance, the Forbus family founded and personally funded Sarah’s Laughter because infertility was near and dear to their hearts. One of the best leadership quotes I heard recently said something like: Leaders bow down low in sacrificial love to lift others up. “For the love of Christ compels us, because we judge thus: that if One died for all, then all died; and He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again.” (2 Corinthians 5:14-15) When you’re compelled by Christ’s love, you’ll love the ministry you launch and love those you lead.
*These are some of my favorite podcasts: Andy Stanley Leadership Podcast, Craig Groeschel Leadership Podcast, Feathers: Faith In Flight (Amy J Bennett), God Centered Mom (Heather MacFadyen), Mud Stories (Jacque Watkins), Sarah’s Laughter (Beth & Jason Forbus), Life Church (Craig Groeschel), Elevation Church (Steven Furtick), and Fresh Life Church (Levi Lusko).
Meet Christy Nueman:
Christy Nueman lives a simple life deep-in-the-heart of Texas with her college sweetheart and son. She’s passionate about marriage, motherhood and ministry. She’s co-founder of A.B.I.D.E. Adoption and Infertility Ministry and Sarah’s Laughter Austin. She warmly welcomes guest bloggers from all seasons of life to share their stories on her blog called The Write Season.
Now is the perfect time to read any articles you’ve missed. We’ve had some amazing writers on The Write Season, such as:
- Christy Nueman – THE STORY OF A.B.I.D.E. MINISTRY
- Wendy Speake – ON CHRIST THE SOLID PLATFORM I WRITE
- Erin Poci – LEFT TO OUR OWN “DEVICES”
- Jason Forbus – A HUSBAND COPES WITH INFERTILITY
- Patti Adams – STILL BIRTH
- Beth Forbus – THE STORY OF SARAH’S LAUGHTER
- Suzanne Makshanoff – WAITING FOR A GIFT
- Veronica Giamanco – THE ANNIVERSARY GIFT
“There is a time for everything, and a S E A S O N for every activity under the heavens…” Ecclesiastes 3:1 (NIV, emphasis added)
Are you new to The Write Season? If you enjoyed this post, please become a FOLLOWER today!
Guest writers are warmly welcomed at The Write Season. Contact Christy at email@example.com to share your story.
The Write Season is a Ministry of Words. What is a Ministry of Words? It’s an online community for writers to share their stories with readers. It’s a place to glorify God with our words through the seasons of life.