I surrendered MY “Life” PLANS to full time ministry in 1989 when my husband and I, along with a great bunch of friends, opened Tampa’s first Crisis Pregnancy Center. A Woman’s Place is a faith based ministry that offers women choices for an unplanned pregnancy, other than abortion. The tiny ministry was pressed into a small space in the back half of my independently owned insurance agency.
I never intended to allow it to take up the front of my office or the front of my life. We started with a volunteer team and donated furniture. We still have a volunteer team and some donated furniture, in addition to 20 employees and a multi-million dollar budget.
None of it was my PLAN.
MY PLAN was to be one of Florida’s youngest and wealthiest female insurance agents and to drive sports cars.
MY PLAN was to get that “crisis” ministry up and running and hand it over to someone else-asap.
MY PLAN when that first young girl fell through our doors facing the most heartbreaking moment of her young life, was to find SOMEONE else to help her.
MY PLAN bit the dust with the first teardrops that wet the shoulder of my blouse. I have been surrendering MY PLAN every since. That was 21 years ago.
I have done lots of things wrong during my years of leadership and of serving God through ministry but I know have done at least 2 things right, they maybe the only two things, but at least there are two:
1) Keep God first!
2) Never stop learning and seeking a higher level of excellence at what He has called me to do.
I just cannot offer God anything less.
I have shared over the past few post, a few ways I have done the learning and seeking thing. I seek out—follow—and soak up, all the overflow that God makes available to me. I try to never miss an opportunity to glean and learn from someone who has experienced a little more, challenges me to look a little deeper, or draws me a little higher.
A few weeks ago I had one of those wonderful experiences at the “She Speaks” Conference sponsored by Proverbs 31 Ministries. If you have followed my blog you have heard me share MANY times about my love for Lysa Terkeurst and the P31 ministry team. If you have a desire to write, or speak of LIVE for Christ…hook up with them. You will never regret it.
This year, God brought our seeking hearts more of the same!!!
The Saturday night message was delivered by Angela Thomas. Angela is a fellow Lifeway Author so I have had the great honor of hanging out with her a few times in a few different settings over the past couple of years. I have seen her on the stage and have shared lunch with her in the proverbial “Green Room”. She is the REAL DEAL and is the same lady both places. After her keynote at “She Speaks” she left an entire room of 600 women and a few good men (a small group for her), spellbound, unable to move and I truly believe, permanently changed. I embraced the message so deeply that I have repeated all 6 points several times (my version of course) without notes.
Here they are, from my notes, along with my application. I would advise you to order the tape and fill up your own cup!!
My Takeaway from Angela Thomas “She Speaks” July 31, 2010
1) Know your calling, it will keep you focused (Eph 4:1)
I learned a little acrostic for the word FOCUS a few years back that has always stuck with me “Fixed On God’s Unlimited Supply”. I have known what God “Called” me to do since my knees left the alter on 6/9/84. What His “plan” looks like is another story. Finding and Staying true to YOUR PERSONAL CALLING and not someone else’s can be the difference between stress and peace, success and failure.
2) There is an art to leaving some things UNDONE so that greater things can BE done. (2 Tim 1:3)
This statement, although certainly not a new concept, brought me down. I allow my schedule to get so crazy trying to get it all done, the things I hate and the things I love as well as things that just need to be done. The more God does with my ministry and the more territory He provides, the bigger my “To Do” list gets. The way that Angela shared this point really sunk in for me. I have followed her advice for the past 3 weeks and have begun a new system of prioritizing and planning that has set me FREE-ER. Not completely free but I have turned a corner. That is good.
3) Lead in Brokenness NOT insecurity (Ps 40:1)
Angela preciously calls herself a “First Born overachieving-excessive-repulsive”. Oh my, I want that phrase. It is me. I have never been captured better. Capturing this truth will make or break your family AND ministry. I learned a long time ago how critical it is to deal with my own stuff before I can lead or minister or even LOVE others. A mentor of mine told me just a few short years into my leadership position “You can not give out what you do not have” and “What you do not heal, you pass on”. I am constantly broken before the Lord and make every effort to allow Him to use my brokenness. Insecurity is sin. I just want it out of my life. Brokenness on the other hand, bring it on!
4) Sometimes, it is not your turn yet—Be a woman who is READY. (John 15)
I loved how Angela told us, “if God has called you to write—write. If God has called you to speak—write a speech”. Don’t stand around waiting for the “big break”. Practice it, tape it, make it better and better the wait, trust, abide. Be ready when God calls you. Abide, Trust, He is able to carry out His plan for you. Be ready to be next. Stay in prayer. Stay close to God. If you really believe God is sovereign then you know His timing is perfect.
5) The Lord is the decider—Do not compare, Do not strive, Do not sulk and complain. (Matt 6:33)
Sometimes us girls spend more time looking at what some else is doing, or has, than we do pressing into what God has given US. The grass always seems greener in someone else’s life or ministry than our own. God will not bless that kind of stinkin’ thinkin’. Lysa made a beautiful statement during one of her speeches, it was something like “God will not give you more territory until you are thankful for the territory you have”. Wow.
6) Go get it and BRING IT BACK!!! (Col 2:6)
This is why I stay under as much “overflow” as possible. Why I keep God’s Word a priority of my life. Why my time alone with Him is non-negotiable. Why I read, study and keep trying to get better and learn more, even at my age, even after 24 years of ministry. I know that “out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks”. I know that what I am filled with, is what will come out of my heart and mouth. What my “spiritual cup” holds is what I have to give. It is my hearts desire to overflow with the fruit of God’s Spirit—Love, Joy, Patience, Understanding, Peace, Goodness, Gentleness, Kindness, Self Control. As bad as I am at some of those things NOW, I can only imagine what I would be without God.
I love you Angela Thomas. You ROCK!! Happy Birthday Week!!