By Mary Carver
God's Brave Women - Mary's Story
The moment I did something I’d said I would never do is seared into my mind. Though years have passed, I can’t seem to forget it.
I was sitting at my desk in our church office, half listening (fine, call it eavesdropping if you must) to my friends and colleagues talking outside my door. The children’s ministry director and the creative arts director were discussing the challenge of finding volunteers to lead worship for the kids on Sunday mornings. The goal was to recruit and shepherd teen leaders, but it was proving difficult for various reasons.
They came to the conclusion that an adult needed to head up this pocket of the children’s ministry department, but they just weren’t sure who would be qualified or, let’s be honest, interested in this position.
By this point I had walked out of my workspace and stood in front of them, inviting myself into their conversation like friends and colleagues do. As I heard them describe the gap in their team and their frustration trying to solve the problem, my heart began to beat faster. Confused, I was unsure what that feeling was about because, Lord knew, I had zero interest in serving in children’s ministry.
I certainly had no desire, inclination, or qualification to work with middle school kids in particular. And yet . . .
Before I could stop myself (could I even have stopped myself?), I spoke up. I followed that pull in my gut, spoke up, and volunteered to head up our church’s “Praise Parkway team,” a group of adult storytellers and middle school-aged worship leaders. Though my brain was shouting, “What are you doing?! Whyyyyy? Yes, it’s music but it’s kids. Little kids and big kids. Middle-schoolers!!!” my mouth said, “Yeah, I think this will be fun!”
"I certainly had no desire, inclination, or qualification to work with middle school kids in particular. And yet . . . Before I could stop myself, I spoke up."
Now, listen. I’ve done harder things, scarier things in my life. And the hardest, scariest things I’ve lived through may pale in comparison to the challenges others have faced. But even though working with a handful of tweens might not seem overwhelming, I was terrified. After all, everyone knows middle schoolers are the worst, right?
After blurting out that I could help, my friends immediately jumped on the idea. They were convinced I was the exact right person for the job, despite the uncertainty that was surely painted all over my face. As it turns out, they were right.
I’m not saying I was especially gifted in recruiting, training, and leading volunteers, creating weekly worship services that spoke to the hearts of children, or working with middle-school students who ranged from reluctant to enthusiastic about their volunteer positions. I learned to do these things as time went on, but I certainly didn’t walk into the job as an expert. However, God knew that if only I was willing to step into the role, He would meet me there.
"I certainly didn’t walk into the job as an expert. However, God knew that if only I was willing to step into the role, He would meet me there."
And over the next few years, that’s exactly what He did. Through my time in that ministry, the Lord increased my patience, my creativity, and my love for other people’s kids, both little and not-so-little (things I previously claimed I neither had in abundance nor wanted). He showed me ways to connect with my tween-aged volunteers and point them toward Him, and then—then!—He used those kids to speak to me. Those “awful,” sarcastic, hyper, bored (or at least pretending to be bored) middle schoolers taught me so much. (And of course, they turned out to be kind, insightful, generous, and hilarious more than any of those other things I’d assumed of them merely based on their age.)
"The Lord increased my patience, my creativity, and my love for other people’s kids, both little and not-so-little (things I previously claimed I neither had in abundance nor wanted). He showed me ways to connect with my tween-aged volunteers and point them toward Him, and then He used those kids to speak to me."
That day in my church’s office wasn’t the first time my heart and mouth got me into “trouble” by ignoring red flags and fears in favor of jumping in impetuously. But it was one of the few times when my fears were so genuine and could have easily kept me quiet and held me back. Thankfully, I opened my mouth anyway and dove into a new-to-me ministry. And that moment turned into a season where God used my willingness and courage to try something new to significantly move in my life and in others.
"That moment turned into a season where God used my willingness and courage to try something new to significantly move in my life and in others."
I stepped down from serving in that capacity a few years ago and have since been part of other areas of ministry in my church and community. But since the interruptions of 2020 and the changes and challenges that time created, I’ve struggled to find my place in either my church or my community. I want to serve, to use my gifts to help others. I even want to be stretched and to grow, although I feel a little nervous even just typing those words. Still, I haven’t found my new place yet.
So why am I talking about a moment and then a season that took place several years ago? Because I haven’t found my new place yet—and maybe you’re in a similar space? If you are, I’m hopeful that my story will help you (just as I’m counting on it to help me) find courage to look for the next step God has planned for you and then take it.
"I’m hopeful that my story will help you find courage to look for the next step God has planned for you and then take it."
Even if the next step seems strange or silly or scary, even if it’s something you swore you’d never be interested in or able to do. Have courage, say yes, and see how God meets you there and walks with you every step of the way.
Brave Woman Manifesto
Make sure to check back next week as another courageous Sister shares her story.
And by the way...
You are Brave!
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Mary Carver writes and speaks with humor and honesty, encouraging women with truth found in unexpected places. She lives for good books, spicy queso, and holiday movie marathons—but she lives because of God’s grace. Mary hosts a podcast about pop culture and faith called The Couch, and she's the author of an upcoming devotional for moms called Prayers from the Parking Lot. She also writes regularly for MomAdvice.com and DaySpring's (in)courage community.