The first time I heard the hymn “Jesus Loves Me” I was in my early 40’s, new to the Methodist tradition. We sang it during the children’s time. As you know, the words go “Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so.” I didn’t know Jesus loved me from the Bible. I grew up Catholic and from the early days of Catechism the Sisters of St. Francis assured me that Jesus loved me. Certainly, the experience of my family reinforced Jesus’ love? No children’s song. No Bible.
But how did I KNOW Jesus loved me? Understand, I am a linear, analytical person. I like to see the tangible proof. The more I thought about the question the more I looked at things that happened in my life. Where was the proof? I realized that even at those times when I strayed from God, I still experienced Jesus’ love pulling me back into a deeper relationship. Jesus always hung in there with me. As one of my mentors likes to say, “don’t worry about the past, Jesus always gives you another chance.”
That brings me to a second children’s verse that goes “We love, because God first loved us.” Since Jesus loved me first, how do I respond to that love? We all need to find our own answer to that question. Put differently, “How am I called to serve in God’s Kingdom here on earth?” What am I qualified to do in ministry as a lay person? As I wrestled with that question, I found some very good counsel. You’ve heard it many times in many ways. In his book, When God Whispers your Name, Max Lucado says “God doesn’t call the qualified, He qualifies the called.”
I started in ministry where I was comfortable using the life skills I already had. I served the church with other men in ministry. We fixed things at the church, built handicap ramps, and fed the hungry. I still I felt the call to do more. I took Discipleship classes and Bible studies and started teaching a Sunday School class.
How was God qualifying me to serve in these ever growing opportunities? Actually, several ways. Possible most important was that God placed men in my life to mentor me.
Through them I learned of training opportunities like the old Lay Speaker class. I felt no calling to speak from the pulpit. I simply wanted to be the best possible lay person serving God that I could be. Now I have taken basic and advance Lay Servant offerings.
As I became more involved with Methodist Men, I learned of more ways for God to help “qualify” me for the ministry He called me to. Through UMM I was able to take classes and seminars on strategic ministry planning, The Way of the Shepherd, Lead Like Jesus and many more offerings.
What have I learned? I KNOW Jesus loves me! I know that I am called, you are called, to be a lay servant in Jesus’ church, helping build His Kingdom here on earth. I know that if you trust God, trust the men around you, they will help you grow and be qualified for whatever God calls you to do.
Men’s Ministry is a comfortable place to start being the best possible Lay Servant you can be. Join the ADVENTURE. Join the JOURNEY
--George Houle, Great Plains Director of Men’s Ministry