Most of my life has played out in a way reverse of what most people communicate their Christian experience to be. God has not been continually moving me into a job or role I never had interest in taking. On the contrary, I have dreamed of being a pastor since I was four or five, conducting small church service programs for my family in our rural Mexican home. Preaching a little sermon or sharing about Jesus to strangers in the market place.
When I was in fourth grade, I was already considering life in pastoral work, whom I would marry, and the way I would run things if I was given the reins to a church. In fact, it was so much in my little elementary mind that I wrote a couple poems about it.
So for me, I have always wanted to be in ministry and get a paycheck for it.
God hasn't needed to persuade me or 'gently' pressure me into it.
However, God has allowed me to serve in positions over the last several years where I have suffered serious damage to my pride. My ministry experience has been about continually realizing that my desires, ambitions, talents, goals, vision, etc. is not enough to create successful kingdom work.
In moments of humility, I face my limitations, or weaknesses, or just plain old rude selfish character and I fall to my knees pleading for God's forgiveness and blessing. Over the course of these last two weeks here in Germany, I have had several moments of humility but one has particularly stood out. The reason why it stands out so much is because it is in an area of great pride for me, the area of communication.
For as long as I can remember, people have affirmed my gifts for communication. Whether it was a well-meaning hermana who came up to me after a sermon and told me something, or my beloved mother, or even the sermon critique at ARISE, I have been told that I have gifts in the area of communication. Though I seek to stay humble and small before my eyes, I know there's arrogance in me because of all this treatment. It's a continual fight to remember the words of my former outreach partner Stephanie Lester, "Now don't get a big head because of this..."
Which leads to a moment of humility I experienced my first Sabbath here in Germany. It came while doing outreach as part of the Youth in Mission schedule in downtown Mannheim. It had been a while since I felt these feelings of insecurity about communication. I was afraid of talking to people because I knew I couldn't communicate. Just like that, a simple geographical displacement, and whatever skills I might think I have in rhetoric and imagery vanished to the point that I wanted to hide behind Jeanine and Manuel the whole time.
I only ventured to talk to someone on my own because a couple of the outreach organizers pushed me on, said they would pray for me, and that they would keep an eye out for me. Otherwise, I doubt I would've spoken to anyone on my own.
As I was sitting in the tram, heading back to the afternoon meeting, my ego was hurting. I was sobered up and I realized that gifts and talent are not things which I should be boasting about because they're more fragile and limited than I realize. Move me to another country and none of it means anything.
Here in Germany, I am once again being challenged because experiences are demonstrating to me that I am not the big shot 'ministry guy' I think I am. Basically, these moments remind I am only a nineteen year old kid with a little dream and much to learn. But you know, having much to learn seems to make life more interesting. At least, I seem to enjoy myself a lot more when I stop pretending like I know everything and I'm ready for anything, but rather sit down, watch, and pray.