Don’t Steal Someone Else’s Perfect Place

I walked into the church cafe, and as I poured my coffee, I saw a woman who is normally in my small group on Sunday mornings.  “Hey,” I said, “we missed you upstairs this morning.”  She smiled and almost giggled when she said, “I’m trying a new endeavor.  I’m helping in the children’s department.  It’s all so new to me, but I’m really excited — I’m teaching the first graders.  I can’t believe I’m doing this.  I’m not sure how it even happened!”

I smiled, pulled out the stool next to her, and as I sat down, I whispered, “I am SO excited to hear that.  Let me tell you a little backstory about what you’re doing .”

At the beginning of the summer, I stepped down from a leadership position in our church.  I just felt unsettled in the women’s ministry department.  A stirring.  Itchy, if you will.  That’s how God usually works in my life when He’s ready to move me on.  I just get antsy.  I lasted about 2 weeks before I felt the need to take on something else.  But what?  I had no idea.  I had recently heard a sermon that promoted “just do the next right thing.”  Ok.   I’ll try that.

So I approached the youth pastor and the children’s pastor, and I said the same thing to both of them.  “I may be interested in possibly, maybe… perhaps working in this department”.  How lame is that?  But I had heard many stories of people just testing the waters, and then discovering they have met their calling.  They found their perfect spot by just taking a chance.  And I definitely wanted a calling.  A purpose.

Several weeks later, one of the pastors sought me out and asked if I would be willing to accept a position that was open.  I was, by that time temporarily caring for a family member, and I asked if I could get back to her when the new quarter began.

I prayed about the position, and as the time drew closer to give an answer, I felt conflicted.  I didn’t feel excited about it.  I hated to take it, and feel burdened every week about fulfilling the duties.  And I’m not a quitter.  So I wanted to be sure before giving my yes.  Or no.

Feeling a bit exasperated with myself for not being able to make a decision, I pulled out a piece of notebook paper and began to make a list.  On one side of the paper, I wrote down every group or organization that was pulling for my attention.  Nine things.  On the other side of the paper, I listed everything that I spend my time doing.  Cleaning.  Cooking.  Laundry.  My job.  That kind of stuff.  Then I listed all the relationships in my life that I want to continue to nurture.

Next as I looked over the full page, I went line by line, and I asked myself two questions:  What’s the point?  And why? 

As I prayed over that page, I began to check items that were nonnegotiable.  Things or people who were staying in my life.  No question.  I also began to see what things were not so important to me.  They were good things.  Worthy things.  But none that caused passion within me.  I began to cross those off the list.  At the end of an hour, I sat back and looked at my messy, scribbled-up page, and I knew my answer.  Now that I could actually see what I valued, I knew where I wanted and needed to invest my time.

The next morning, I called the children’s pastor to let her know I wasn’t going to accept the position.  During part of the conversation, I said, “God has someone prepared for that job, but it isn’t me.”  She laughed, “well, pray with me that God shows me soon who that person is.”

And of course, you’ve guessed the rest of the story.  I did not take the position to teach the first graders.  But my friend did.  And she is SO excited.   As we finished our coffee, her comment to me was, “you mean you almost stole my blessing?”  That just makes me smile.  Because yes, I almost did.  And what would have been a burden to me will be a passion for her.  I love that.

I am so glad I declined that teaching job because God had something else prepared for me right around the corner.  I’ll be sharing about that in an upcoming post!  We all have our own gifts.  We all have a place to belong.  Keep looking — your perfect place may be just around the next corner.

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