did i mishear Him?...
I entertained the idea of quitting. I was doubting God’s calling for me as a pastor. Did I mishear Him? Did I assert my own desires instead of listening to what He was actually speaking to me? It was not only the call to pastor, but even the call to ministry that I was doubting. My husband and I are both bi-vocational co-pastors of a Nazarene church that we started in our home in October 2020. Since April 2021, we have had two people, one of them very faithful and consistent in joining us every single week. Recently, I have been discouraged. Am I doing the right thing? Should I quit my full-time job to give more to the ministry God has given us? The loneliness and frustration experienced as a bi-vocational pastor, or even experienced by those who work full-time jobs and participate in the work of ministry, can feel overwhelming. I wonder if we are doing something wrong when we still only have two people who are part of our church body. We have seen people in our neighborhood come and go as houses go on the market and then are sold or rented. We work hard to build relationships with those in our neighborhood because we believe God has planted us in the home we are in for a reason.
In the midst of my discouragement, I was reminded of Harmon Schmelzenbach, a Nazarene missionary in Africa who spent years amongst the Swazi people in what is now called Eswatini, before he even had one convert. Harmon and his wife, Lula, experienced trials that could have broken them. They could have felt it was all too much after they lost three of their babies and faced great opposition from the authorities in the colonies they were trying to reach; they could have left and gone back to the U.S, but they never did break, and amid hardship they remained faithful to the call that God had placed on their hearts.
He is being patient...
2 Peter 3:9, 15a tells us, “The Lord isn’t really being slow about his promise, as some people think. No, he is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent. And remember, our Lord’s patience gives people time to be saved” (NLT).
When we read about Hannah in 1 Samuel, we see the heart of a woman pouring out to God to give her a son. Hannah surrenders her heart to God before her prayers are ever realized. She did not know if those prayers would ever be answered by God, but she put her faith and trust in a patient God. She received peace when surrendering and she moved forward and continued to live her everyday life. God then worked in His timing, not Hannah’s.
am i being faithful to God?...
These stories and these reminders in God’s Word are a reminder to each of us that wherever we find ourselves in life we can surrender to God, who is patient and gracious, who works in His timing in ways that are for our good. It is really easy to measure ourselves according to our faithfulness toward the work of ministry, our full-time/part-time work, family, hobbies, etc. I discovered I would ask myself, “Am I being faithful and doing enough for our ministry and to those in our community?” It turned out that although I was working hard and “doing enough” for our ministry, I was distracted from my own faithfulness, my personal devotion, to God.
The first question we should ask ourselves is, “Am I being faithful to God?” If we are being faithful to God, then the work we do and our way of being in all other areas of life will graciously be what they need to be. When I am wholly surrendered to God, I no longer worry about my faithfulness to other areas of my life, because my faithfulness to God frees me from the expectations I hold of myself or the expectations I have assumed from others to do what I need to do and be who I am designed by God to be.
keep walking in step with Him...
As we draw near to another season of busyness amidst the holidays, we must remember that God desires to be with us, to walk with us, to work with us. He desires our faithfulness and surrender as He works in His timing to answer our prayers and fulfill the desires of our hearts. May we have the patience, endurance, and strength like Harmon and Hannah, when we do not see God’s heart realized or our prayers answered right away, to keep walking in step with Him in the calling that He has given us.
By day, Sierra is a Financial Relationship Specialist at a credit union, but that does not discount from the pastoral role she plays alongside her husband, Dalton. The Dunns co-pastor a home church in Grandview, Missouri where they pour their hearts into the neighborhood the Lord has planted them in. You can follow more of Sierra's ministry journey on Instagram @sierralaughs.
Photos by Carly Kristin Photography. Headshot provided by Sierra Dunn.