A word that evokes many meanings and memories. Romantic love. Girlfriend love. Maternal love. Paternal love. Baby love! The Bible uses this word 686 times (depending on the version you use). Jesus spoke it in this way, ” A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (John 13:34-35)
So often in ministry, we get caught up in the idea of “having to” love everyone, that we forget what this is really supposed to look like from Jesus’ perspective. Loving people in our church can become wearisome and even cumbersome! They wear us OUT! My husband often says “sheep stink!” And they do! But we are sheep too, lovingly cared for by our Heavenly Father. He has shown me a different way to love over the last several years.
Early in our ministry, I was compelled to reach and teach the women in our church. I spent hours leading Sunday school classes that we called everything but Sunday school to make it more attractive (WOW-Women of the Word, Sassy Sistas…) I led small groups of women from our church and their friends in Beth Moore studies, made the rounds holding studies at other women’s homes called “Circle of Friends,” and spoke at our ladies’ retreats and workshops. This was all God-honoring and I’m so glad I did that over the last several years and learned so much.
But, in the last few years, God has shown me that He doesn’t want me to just reach and minister to the women of our church and their friends. He has shown me women at work, at the hair salon, at yoga classes and at the grocery store that He wants me to reach for Him. His love is not limited to the people we know and already love. He has shown me He wants me to love whomever He puts in my path.
I started a new job in August of 2017 as employee #63. In November of 2018, I’d gotten to know a few women at work who expressed an interest in learning more about the Bible. They said they knew of other women in our firm who would like to learn, but didn’t have much background in the Bible. I told them I could lead a discussion and they can invite whomever they wanted. In January of this year, seven ladies joined me in our training room during the lunch hour to discuss a Bible study book called “Bad Girls of the Bible.” (I chose this book because it seemed non-threatening and brought lots of humor and “realness’ to women in the Bible.) Since that first lunch together, we have now grown to 12 women and one of the women, a 27 year old, has asked me to mentor her. Only a few of these women are “churched” women, the majority have little or no Bible background or attend church with any regularity. God has asked me to love these women into a fully devoted relationship with Jesus! His timing is perfect and His training that He provided me to love and lead outside of our church is amazing!
I’m so excited to see where His love will lead me, but even more excited to see the impact His love will have on these 12 women and their circles of influence!