Ministry women excel at helping others. At the same time, we can be fiercely independent. Many of us rely on our own gifts and exhaust our own resources before asking people, and even God, for help. Being indebted to others makes us uncomfortable. A recent tropical storm shows me that too often, like a stubborn toddler, I say, "I want to do it myself."
Before the storm, I smugly go through my self-sufficiency checklist.
Water in the bathtub. Check.
Corded phone in place. Check.
Drinking water and flashlight batteries. Check.
I am preoccupied with my preparedness plan and neglect to acknowledge that seeking God is the best thing to do when a 500-mile wide storm approaches.
In the wake of the storm, half the state is without electricity and essential services for days, which is not part of my carefully constructed checklist. Just when I am unable to help myself and tempted to complain, church members check on us and bring news of available resources. One family, also without electricity and water at home, drags fallen trees off our roof and cuts them up with a chainsaw. This is humbling.
Once we get back to some normalcy, I offer hot showers and laundry facilities to friends and co-workers still without electricity. Most of them, possibly trying to maintain their own self-sufficiency, decline. This, too, is humbling.
What am I learning?
- Ministry women, like all Christians, need to seek the Lord for salvation and strength. "Incline your ear, O Lord, and answer me, for I am poor and needy." (Psalm 86:1)
- There is no such thing as a self-sufficient Christian. "Not that we are sufficient in ourselves to claim anything as coming from us, but our sufficiency is from God." (II Corinthians 3:5)
- When we allow others to use their gifts for our benefit, it benefits them, too. "Not that I seek the gift, but I seek the fruit that increases to your credit...a fragrant offering, a sacrifice acceptable and pleasing to God." (Philippians 4:17 & 18b)
- The Family of God is a beautiful thing. "Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up!" (Ecclesiastes 4:9, 10)