A Yes Woman Looking for Fine Pearls

I’ve said yes to a lot of things.

In fact, I’ve said yes to so many things, I somehow became known as a Yes Woman. Babysitting and Sunday schools, serving tea and meal clean up, bulletin and powerpoint designs, proofreading and website admin, garden pruning and parents association. If you had asked me to do anything in our first few years of ministry, I would’ve answered in the affirmative. I wanted to be used, anywhere and in any way, and I was anxious to send news home of all these needs that had been answered through me.

I didn’t feel called to bulletin making, but I was good at it. A lifetime in traditional church combined with entry-level training in graphic design came to good use on the field. It wasn’t my gifting, but I did it… because I could.

I didn’t feel called to teaching a children’s Sunday school class, but I was a young mom and it was my turn in the rotation at our new young church. It wasn’t my gifting, but I did it… because I felt like I had to.

I didn’t feel called to website administration, but if I didn’t do it, who would? It wasn’t my gifting, but…

All those yeses left the Spirit within me gasping for air. I said yes so much to so many things because I was afraid to say no. And in doing that, I squelched whatever gifting I had deep down inside, lying in dormant for future use.

Maybe one day after I pay my dues, I thought, I’ll be able to do the things I feel called to do. Maybe one day I’ll earn the right to pursue a ministry I’m gifted in.

That day never came. Or, at least, not in the way I thought it would.

Our long home assignment allowed me to time wait on the Lord, to be mentored by wise women of all ages who saw God’s design in me. My husband and I pursued training and extensive personality tests highlighting our needs, as well as our strengths. All these years of trial and error (and a few glorious victories) culminated in the realization that sometimes our practical skills aren’t necessarily aligned with our spiritual giftings

I could do clerical or children’s work, but they weren’t supernaturally embedded within my heart and mind. These skills may get the job done, but they didn’t ensure the ministry would thrive. I might never know if they bore much fruit, but I know my soul felt dry and barren.

Often there are times when we really do need to say yes to things we aren’t gifted at. This is especially true overseas, where the resource pool may be limited. But saying yes to some things often means saying no to others. And it takes practice, confidence and courage to say no to one good thing so you can say yes to the better thing.

This November I went on one of those amazing women’s retreats where you sit by the ocean and journal, coming together with other cross-cultural women for contemplative worship, local cuisine and really good wine. During our time together, we focused on our pearl of great value, as mentioned in Matthew 13:44-46.

“The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field. Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it.”

We meditated on the pearl we have in Jesus and the Kingdom He offers us. And we considered the pearl of great value He has placed inside each of us. Our thing. That to which we have been called, gifted, designed for.

In the process of discovering that “pearl,” we also realized the cost: selling that field, giving away all we own, saying no to some good things in order to say yes to God’s best.

If you are in the uncomfortable place of relying on your skills but mishandling your giftings, let these questions guide your yeses:

What am I passionate about?

What makes me angry?

What do I wake up thinking about every morning?

In what moments do I most feel the fruits of the Spirit?

What do I need to give up in order to enjoy the treasures God has for me?

I’m back in a kids’ Sunday school class again, but this time is different. I can sit criss-cross applesauce with those rugrats little blessings because pursuing the gifts God has chosen for me (things like writing, relationships and worship) have renewed my spiritual strength and filled my heart with a bounty of treasures. Treasures I’m now able to give away.

Oh, I’ve said yes to some good things, and maybe some not so good things. And now, I’m handing out a few no’s… and saying yes to so much more.

10 Comments

  1. Sarah Gomez January 20, 2015

    Love this article! Especially the part of our skills not always aligning with our giftings — years of confusion as I was complimented in ministry doing admin work and told its where I flourished when I felt frustrated u-unfulfilled and obligated!

    thanks for this reminder!

    Also would be interested in some information- you mentioned retreat as well as training while you were home- my husband and I currently live in Florida and are headed overseas to Central America in next year and are in need of advice for development training and

    1. Karen Huber January 21, 2015

      Hi Sarah! One big thing we did that our sending org is now requiring all new employees to do is take a personality assessment called The Birkman. It actually is quite extensive and answered a lot of things we’d been wondering about ourselves for awhile, and offered up brand new information and helped us both in communicating our needs and callings to each other and our coworkers. Also, part of our home assignment was to embed ourselves in a community and church that was non-traditional and investigate ministry outside of the “M” box. It was nerve-wracking at first and I was like “I just wanna raise my money and get out of here stat!” but the Lord opened up doors big time, not just in ministry but in our marriage and relationships and clarifying what He had gifted us for. In terms of resources, I highly recommend Tangible Kingdom (by Halter & Smay), Sentralized Conference (for M church planters) and any and all Member Care you can get your hands on. 🙂

  2. Sarah Gomez January 20, 2015

    Mentorship, advice—– looking for suggestions

    1. Elizabeth January 21, 2015

      Hi Sarah, I’m not sure if this is what you’re looking for, since I don’t know your situation/experience/etc, but this is something I wrote about preparing for moving overseas. You can pop over and see if it’s helpful. And if it’s not, then you can ignore it 🙂 http://trotters41.com/2013/11/16/how-to-transition-to-the-foreign-field-and-not-croak-six-essential-steps/

    2. Karen Huber January 21, 2015

      Oh, also in terms of mentoring, I recommend just meeting with one or two ladies (of any age) regularly for coffee, read a book together, pray together and be open to God speaking to you through them. Most of that happened in brand new relationships where I wasn’t expecting it at the time and now count them among the very best of friends/mentors. I’m praying that God will help me “pay that forward” with women I’m building relationships with here, too.

  3. Elizabeth January 21, 2015

    I love, love, love the questions you offer here! So helpful! Way back in 2008 I went to a Women of Faith conference, and we heard this British guy speak. (Don’t remember the name, only the accent 🙂 ) Anyway, he redefined strengths not as something we’re good at, but something that strengthens us/makes us feel stronger. And he redefined weaknesses not as something we’re bad at, but something that weakens us/makes us feel weak.

    This made so much sense to me, because we can be good at something that is not a good fit for our souls, just as you describe here. Not that we should never do things like that, if they are necessary and important, but just something to be aware of in life. What you say here today reminds me a lot of that talk.

    Again, I really love your questions. 🙂

    1. Karen Huber January 21, 2015

      Thanks Elizabeth! I was going to say, “I wish I could take credit for those questions” and then realized in writing it that I kind of did! But they were originally asked of me in the retreat and as I was looking through the notes from that time for this post, they just jumped back out at me, something I need to keep reminding myself of when it comes to some important decision-making. I also love those definitions of strengths/weaknesses. I may borrow that, too! 😉

  4. Sarah Gomez January 21, 2015

    Thanks Elizabeth ! Great advice in that article! Our situation is a bit different than the average Ms I guess as we will be going to my husbands home country and see ourselves for 2-4 years and not necessarily long term. Our dream is to set up some things and do more planting and raise leaders there – but great wisdom in your link/ blog so thank you!

  5. Wesley January 22, 2015

    Karen – Thank you! I’ll be writing and praying through those questions for a while. This was such a gift to me today. I’m entering the final year in my current location and am not quite sure where God is leading next, but feeling the push for sure! I’ve been wrestling through the difference between my skills/giftings and your post has given me some good things to evaluate. Just because I can do the work, doesn’t mean that is some thing I should do. I sometimes think of it as my skills are technical and based on doing, but my giftings should be an outflow of my heart and if it seems the skills are not made to match, will I trust God in those uncertain areas to work as only he can.

  6. MaDonna January 25, 2015

    Karen – thanks for the questions! Those were really good to sit and think about. It is so true that we tend to think that what we are skilled at is probably our gifting – and it may not be. That was very freeing to me tonight as I was reading.

    Thanks!

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