a Christian podcast about tabletop RPGs and collaborative storytelling

Accepting the Call

Feeling a bit of writer’s block, I reached out to my co-hosts for ideas for this week’s blog post and Grant asked me to do one on working up the drive to get involved with charitable or mission work. (To be brutally honest, that seemed like kind of an odd question coming from the guy who does all of our webmaster work, most of our editing, and also finds and schedules the bulk of our guest hosts. Clearly he’s found the motivation to do a ton of work on the ministry that is Saving the Game for over five years.) But I didn’t have much in the way of other ideas, and I have managed to get involved with Saving the Game, my local food pantry, and I also spent some time on my church’s board of trustees, so here’s what I’ve got.

 And the Lord turned to him and said, “Go in this might of yours and save Israel from the hand of Midian; do not I send you?”  And he said to him, “Please, Lord, how can I save Israel? Behold, my clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my father’s house.” -Judges 6:14-15 (ESV)

My advice, if you want to do good or get involved in ministry is literally just this: get involved in a church that’s small enough for people to notice you’re there, find the people who are already involved, demonstrate that you’re dependable, and then don’t say “no” when they inevitably ask you for help. There may be more to it; heck, there almost certainly is, but it’s not part of my experience, and it has been my experience that if you’re around and available, ministries, charitable organizations, and even things like the podcast always need someone, and if you’re standing around, looking all dependable and possessed of free time, at some point, somebody is going to ask you to help with something.

But Moses said to the Lord, “Oh, my Lord, I am not eloquent, either in the past or since you have spoken to your servant, but I am slow of speech and of tongue.” Then the Lord said to him, “Who has made man’s mouth? Who makes him mute, or deaf, or seeing, or blind? Is it not I, the Lord? Now therefore go, and I will be with your mouth and teach you what you shall speak.” But he said, “Oh, my Lord, please send someone else.” Then the anger of the Lord was kindled against Moses and he said, “Is there not Aaron, your brother, the Levite? I know that he can speak well. Behold, he is coming out to meet you, and when he sees you, he will be glad in his heart.  You shall speak to him and put the words in his mouth, and I will be with your mouth and with his mouth and will teach you both what to do. -Exodus 4:10-15

Something else you should know: whatever opportunities you get to do good are probably going to be pretty unexpected. I was surprised when Grant asked me to join him to do Saving the Game. I was surprised when, as part of working on this post, I found out his wife Krissi was the one who had earmarked me as a possible co-host. I was surprised when the woman from my church asked me to join the board at the food pantry, and I was surprised when my pastor asked me to serve on the board of trustees. Jenny was apparently shocked when Grant and I asked her to join Saving the Game as a co-host. And boy, as you can see from scripture, were a lot of the saints of old shocked when God showed up and said “You, you’re going to help me do great things.”

Now the word of the Lord came to Jonah the son of Amittai, saying, “Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and call out against it, for their evil has come up before me.” But Jonah rose to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord. He went down to Joppa and found a ship going to Tarshish. So he paid the fare and went down into it, to go with them to Tarshish, away from the presence of the Lord. -Jonah 1:1-3 (ESV)

People often speak of callings as these mystical, spiritual things, and they can sometimes be that. When God wants to start something new, He has to get the ball rolling somehow. For Saving the Game, Grant (or maybe Krissi) was the one who got that call; it certainly wasn’t me. But a lot of the time, being called to something is very literal and very concrete. The call to ministry is often an actual call from another person already involved, looking for help with what they’re already doing. God is an amazing delegator; He uses His people do do almost all of His work, including call each other to service. And it’s easy to say no. We’re all very busy these days, and as we get older, jobs, families, social engagements, and the sheer human need to have some small shred of time we can call our own just so we can relax and process all clamor for our time. And let’s not be coy about it: a lot of the time, these callings can be a lot of work, too. My service with the food pantry has been low-key of late, but when I first started, I spent a fairly significant amount of time working on computer projects around the place, doing my best to get everything working and talking to everything else, and that was before I was in IT, so my confidence level wasn’t exactly what you’d call “elevated.” I spent a lot of time hoping the stuff I’d gotten working would keep working after I walked away from it. Likewise, I wouldn’t trade my time with Saving the Game for anything, but I won’t deny that it’s been a fair bit of work. These blog posts often take several hours to get written, and I’ve done my share of editing, recording sessions are usually a couple of hours at least (and that’s not including our crazy outlines) and so on.

It’s also worth mentioning that sometimes something isn’t for you, or isn’t for you forever. I bowed out of the church’s board of trustees because I felt superfluous; there was an extremely dependable, competent, and highly-available core of people (including one heroically dedicated retired engineer) that took care of just about everything that needed to be done while I was at my day job every week. All I was doing and all I was really able to do was show up for meetings, and they’ve done just fine since I left. In fact, I almost wonder if I was unwittingly creating a logjam, because apparently some situations that were ongoing the whole time I was on the board are now resolved.

But here’s the thing I’ve discovered: because I didn’t say “no,” I got the opportunity to find out. One has to balance this, of course; there seems to be a certain momentum that builds up, especially in church leadership where you can wind up on every board and committee in the place if you don’t set some boundaries. (Or maybe that’s just a Methodist thing?) But I’m very grateful for the continued opportunity to serve on the board of the food pantry and I wouldn’t trade my involvement with Saving the Game for the world. My deepened friendships with Grant, Krissi, and Jenny, the interactions with our listeners, the constant impetus to work on my faith and think about it, the constant impetus to work on my gaming and think about it, and the opportunity to talk with our guest hosts (and become friends with some of them too!) has given me back far more than I could ever put into it. So my advice? When service comes knocking, and knock it will, it’s okay to think like Gideon, Moses, or Jonah. But don’t be afraid to answer like Isaiah. You will reap more than you could ever sow.

And I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” Then I said, “Here I am! Send me.” -Isaiah 6:8 (ESV)

This week’s image is from James Sutton, shared on Unsplash.

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