Last January, I was pretty sure the Lord was asking me to move Uganda.
I got on a plane, flew 7,039 miles across the Atlantic to visit a place I knew little about, and silently wondered if this was what it felt like to do something that really matters.
Today, I brewed 8 pots of coffee. I pulled shots of espresso and steamed pitchers of milk. I ordered romaine lettuce, emptied 7 garbage cans, and made small talk with the locals. And I knew it mattered.
As it turns out, the Lord was asking me to move.
…about 9 miles across town.
After closing the door to that job in Uganda (at least for now), I begged God for another opportunity. Three months later, I agreed to be a part of a brand new adventure: opening a coffee shop in little old Schroon Lake, NY.
Excitement and doubt began to wrestle in my mind. Is this enough? Does this matter? Will this fulfill me? I mean, what kind of Christian says no to being a missionary in Africa to serve coffee? While I had no doubt the Lord was nudging me to make a career change, I struggled to accept that He was nudging me away from full time vocational ministry.
I love the story about Jesus feeding the 5000. The Bible says He saw the people, felt compassion for them, and then simply asked His followers to meet the needs. Out of all the resources in the universe that Jesus could have used to feed these people, He chose the most everyday, un-miraculous thing: a kid’s lunch. What a reminder: ministry starts with what I already have, right where I am.
In this particular season, what I had was barista experience and a burden for this tiny town.
I had to let go of my big flashy dreams of “glamorous” ministry and lay them down at the Savior’s feet before I could pick up the assignment He has for me right here and right now.
And you know what? I’ve yet to be disappointed.
Ministry in the Mundane
I believe that ministry can begin the moment we open our eyes each morning. It may not be discussing the great mysteries of theology or rescuing orphans out of poverty, though I hope those things are a part of my story someday too. In this season, for me to serve the Lord in obedience may look like covering the cost of that single mom’s latte because I know how hard she works every day. It may look like coming in early to make sure the floors are clean or staying late to chat with a girl who’s having a tough day. It’s remembering names and using them; seeing the people in front of me not as projects, but as potential friends. (I’ve noticed people don’t really care Who you know until you make them feel cared for and known.)
These little mundane interactions can be more telling of my “mission” in life than the words I speak from a stage or publish on the internet. Yeah, I had high hopes of changing the world someday. But, if in this season the only thing I’m called to change is the mood of the grumpy old man across the counter in front of me, then obedience is what will honor my Savior most- not grand acts. I believe in a life of faithfulness there is a time and a place for both.
Whatever You Do…
I love the Amplified Version’s translation of Colossians 3:23-24:
“Whatever you do [whatever your task may be], work from the soul [that is, put in your very best effort], as [something done] for the Lord and not for men, knowing [with all certainty] that it is from the Lord [not from men] that you will receive the inheritance which is your [greatest] reward. It is the Lord Christ whom you [actually] serve.”
First and foremost, I don’t serve my caffeine-seeking customers. I don’t serve my employers. I don’t serve the expectations of other people. I serve Him. And in serving Him, I get to use every ounce of energy and joy that overflows from remembering Who He is and what He’s done for me. It’s amazing how excited you can get about scrubbing floors when you’re scrubbing floors for Someone who rescued your life. Having this perspective changes the mundane, everyday tasks that we are assigned into acts of love- little choices that we get to make that whisper “thank you” to a Savior who graciously allows us to be a part of His redemptive plan in the lives of the people we interact with.
We can find comfort in knowing the emphasis of this command is placed on the “how,” not the “what.” No matter where I find myself – serving overseas or in my town, in singleness, or motherhood, or unemployment- what is asked of me is not changed. In every season, whatever we do, we are to do with excellence for our Savior.
“Jesus makes His invisible presence visible through His people who represent Him in one another’s lives. You are the look on Christ’s face. You are the tones of His voice. You are the touch of His hands. You are the physical representative of His grace. This is your mission in every relationship of your life- to make the grace of the invisible King visible.” – Paul David Tripp