Have you every been encouraged in a conversation to do something and immediately knew that it absolutely had to be accomplished? That challenge filled the discouraged heart with excitement, the frustrated mind with visions of the future, weary muscles with adrenaline, and boring days with a sense of purpose. Now how do you respond to that moment of excitement, by developing and nurturing that desire or burying it under a mountain of emotional dirt? Last week I had one of those energizing experiences while talking with a friend and it made me think about the way I respond to those opportunities.
During 2011 a main focus of my outreach is ministering in the local School system be coming a volunteer teachers aid, helping with homework clubs, and teaching religious education classes. The Lord has blessed that hard work and its brought great joy to my life, but there is a desire to do more in the schools. We cannot know how much longer the Australian school system will allow pastors such as myself to minister to the students since there are already lawsuits demanding that religious education classes be stopped. As that door of ministry closes most of others probably will as well since the school system will pursue individuals who have teaching experience as opposed to ministers.
While the Lord has burdened me to get more involved in elementary schools my educational background is makes acting on that burden hard. Both of my degrees (Bachelor of Science and Masters) are in Biblical Studies which means I have no training that would help me get my foot in the door of school ministries. All of this work will be as a volunteer of course, but the more active ministries (mentorship, volunteer teachers aid, positions that require being there more than one day a week) are almost immediately taken by those with a background in education.
That keeps me from achieving my goal which is to work at a particular school with the same group of children two or three times a week (an hour to two hours at a time) since this will allow me to develop close relationships with them and become a Godly influence upon their lives.
Last Wednesday I had coffee with a friend who currently teaches history and among other things we discussed my desire to do get more involved in that form of ministry. One thing he challenged me to do was further my education while in Australia by taking online classes or workshops that offer training for those who want to work in that area. This doesn’t mean its necessary to take another degree but there are sixteen week courses which will give the student a “Certificate in Training in Assessment” and open the door to do more in schools.
The idea of taking these classes filled me with incredible excitement and I just knew it was God’s Will. On the other hand they cost $2,0000 if you take them at a university or $1,000 with online classes and I didn’t have near enough for either one in my bank account! So there was sort of an emotional tug of war in my mind with the heart crying out “this is what God wants you must do it!” while the rational mind is saying “you don’t have the money to pay for that class and have no way of saving it with the weak American dollar.” Eventually the voice of my mind won out and I reached for an emotional shovel with which to beat down the desire to take these classes. But as the second or third excuse was thrown on top of it the Lord reminded me that desire had come from Him.
That doesn’t mean all of those moments of excitement are God’s Will quite a few times they end up being our own plans or what we want to have. But sitting with my friend in the cafe I knew that the Lord wanted me to pursue these education classes so I could minister in a deeper way to students in area schools like the seventeen first and second graders I volunteer with once a week. Unfortunately the Lord didn’t provide by sending a check for $1,000 (I am going to take online classes) so the plan is to raise money during 2012 and in early 2013 begin working towards a Certificate IV. But the experience was a great blessing because it reminded me many of those desires that we beat into submission have been placed in our hearts by God, so they should be nurtured instead of buried.