A friend sent me this picture a few days ago. It was 2006 or 2007, and our church didn’t have a baptismal, so we did baptisms in the river or the local pool. As the children’s pastor, I had the privilege of baptizing the kids who were taking this amazing step of faith. This was so special to me. I was a neighbor to this sweet girl’s family before I married Matt in 2006, and I loved these her and her siblings so much (still do).
A couple years later, I was still a pastor on staff at the same church and a licensed minister, but I was not allowed to participate in baptisms that year. I’m not gonna lie; it was devastating. I loved serving this church, and I was unexpectedly not included with the other pastors in this incredible, life-changing moment. I still remember it all very clearly almost 11 years later.
￼￼I was blessed with so many friends, fellow ministers, and encouragers through this time. But I learned something that you might be familiar with: it is hard to get past one naysayer, one person who doesn’t believe in you or your gift, one who refuses to see what God has placed within you. Even when others remind you of the truth, the lies are so loud. The truth whispers, but lies scream. They get in your face and beckon you to doubt who you are and what God wants to do in you.
You have met a naysayer. It doesn’t have to be related to ministry, for God has placed a call on each of us to use the gifts we have been given no matter what they are. Maybe it is a family member, a grandparent or parent whose doubt and negative words have riddled your self-confidence with so many holes that you can no longer put it back together. Maybe something happened and there is someone in your life who will never let you forget it.
If God has placed a gift in you and called you to use it, He does not change His mind. Romans 11:29 says, “For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable.” (ESV) There are seasons of life and ministry, but the gift you have within you is still there.
A few weeks after my first baby was born, I was at a wedding and saw my youth pastor and his wife, two of the greatest spiritual mentors and friends in my life. He said to me, “God still wants to use you, you still have a call on your life.” I clung to those words for years. I still do as I live in the preschool years with my last child. God put him in my life at age 15, and still at 41 his words have immeasurable impact on my life.
God has been so good and so gracious to place loving, encouraging friends and leaders in my life. If you are in a place of discouragement or uncertainty concerning the calling God has placed in your life, please know that you are not alone. Just because one person has decided that they aren’t interested in what you have to offer does not mean you have nothing to offer. If that discouragement and negative feedback has caused you to tuck your gift away in what feels like a safe place, can I encourage you today to think about using it again? It may look different than it has in the past, but if look carefully, I know that God will show you ways to use the gift that has been sitting there inside you.
Don’t let a lie from the father of lies convince you that there is no way God needs you in His service. If you still have breath, He has a purpose for your life and a reason that you are still here. Ignore the lies, and find those who will speak truth, encouragement, and life today.