About this time each summer I start getting a little antsy. I start waking up in the middle of the night with a “to-do” list swimming around in my mind. I start fretting that there’s something I’m supposed to be doing that I haven’t done. And quite frequently there are indeed things that need to be done.
In August, as in every August for the past 19 years, I’ll be starting up a new Bible study class. I’ll be teaching a new group of ladies from a new study book (this year, it will be one I wrote). I’ll also be jumping into a new year with MOPS as a mentor mom. And this year we’re beginning a new MOPS group at our church.
At the most inopportune times of the day – when I’m driving to the grocery store, taking a shower, or hiking on a mountain – I remember that I need to post signs, put out registration sheets, check in with my childcare workers, order books, etc. August will be here before I know it and there is much to be done to prepare for another year of ministry.
Over the years I’ve learned that while I may not be able to hop out of bed in the middle of the night and make a phone call or create a publicity poster while I’m driving down the road, there is one element of preparation that I can do anywhere and anytime.
I can always stop and pray for the ministry that is on the horizon. For that matter, I can stop and pray for the effectiveness of a ministry that I’m smack dab in the middle of. And really is there any greater or more promising thing we can do in preparation to minister than to pray?
Sure, organized ministry–or even lifestyle ministry–requires a little planning ahead, a little preparation, a little organization. It may require some meetings and phone calls and lists and book orders and registration and publicity and budgeting and studying, etc. But let’s not forget that the most important thing we can do in ministry is pray our way through it. And, in fact, the most important thing we can leave out of ministry preparation is also prayer, undoubtedly minimizing our effectiveness, clouding our purpose, and causing ourselves more headaches than we realize.
So what will I be praying about as the middle of August approaches and a new year of exciting ministry looms on the horizon?
- That God will give me a pure heart in ministry, a love for people more than an affinity for the program, and godly motives.
- That He will be honored in every move I make and receive all the glory for anything good that comes of my work.
- That women’s lives will be touched, influenced, changed and refreshed through His Word, His truth, and His love.
- That I would simply be His vessel–a clean one at that.
- That I would get all the little things on the to-do list done in a timely manner so that the Bible study, the MOPS group, the teenage girls small group, etc. are absolute delights to those who participate. That nothing I might neglect to do would be a distraction or a hindrance to those participating.
- That people would please sign up! That ladies would be drawn to an opportunity to study His Word, to fellowship with other believers, to grow in their walk with Him.
I have a feeling I’m not the only would who gets the jitters about this time each year. If you are involved in or especially in charge of a ministry that starts back up in the fall, my bet is that you’ve already got the wheels turning in your head too. Let me just encourage you to take a deep breath, relax your shoulders and pray. That is where real ministry preparation begins — on our knees.