My wife does not aspire to speak at a Christian women’s conference.
(Clarification: Joy is not opposed to ladies’ conferences. She has attended several over our years together. And she has learned much from women speaking gentle wisdom from the platforms of these gatherings.)
But while some individuals might secretly long for the opportunity to take the place of the conference speaker, my wife is not interested in such voyeuristic ministry switcheroos. Joy is, by nature, much more comfortable behind the scenes.
This has confused some church members over the years. Many have assumed that a pastor would have married someone who longs to exercise teaching and preaching gifts in front of a large audience. In essence, they assume the call to preach extends onto her.
Over the course of our marriage, some women have even taken offense at Joy’s reluctance to be a public speaker. Despite her openness about her personality and preference, they have often mistaken her words for false humility. They have (wrongly) assumed she was simply being modest, and they believed that given the opportunity, she would jump at an opportunity to speak to the women of our church.
That’s not the case, however. She isn’t afraid to speak, but she finds her primary calling in something much simpler. She prefers to disciple and teach in smaller settings. She would choose a coffee conversation over a conference. And I find that to be spectacular, both in method and in effectiveness.
Years ago I watched Joy share the gospel with a woman she worked with named Karina. Karina was bilingual, fluent in both English and Spanish. Joy lovingly and patiently told Karina the good news of Jesus, answering her theological questions, praying with her, serving her, and teaching her Scriptural principles. Karina eventually came to Christ, and Joy discipled her.
And then something beautiful happened—Karina shared the gospel with every Spanish-speaking employee in their workplace. The single seed Joy had planted sprouted into a harvest of believers.
I’ve watched Joy serve in these beautifully ordinary ways throughout our marriage. She formed a prayer circle of teachers. She helped launch a group for preschool mothers. She cooked meals and practiced hospitality. She mentored young single women, answering their questions about marriage and ministry. She threw neighborhood parties. She served in our sons’ classrooms.
Not a single one of those things were flashy. None of them drew her attention or acclaim. Yet, over sixteen years I have watched ripples of faithfulness to Jesus spread further and further.
Ironically, Joy was asked to speak at our church’s ladies’ retreat this year. I interviewed her about her ministry over the years. And she responded by sharing many of the stories I’ve relayed (along with a few others). And I was overwhelmed with the responses. Woman after woman approached me saying, “This is so simple. I can do that.”
Most of our church members are not looking for flashy programs or broad platforms. They want little ways to be faithful in their own lives. They want stories and examples that show them how to make Jesus ripples in their world. They may never preach a sermon, but they can have a conversation.
At root, I think a move of the gospel requires many more ordinary moments than we realize—and far fewer grand gatherings. It is in the little moments, the simple times of meals and working and expressing kindness that Jesus is displayed. Such moments are, after all, much more poignant than any sort of spectacle we might produce.
Here’s to living the gospel in the ordinary times.
And to the gospel that makes such ordinary times become spectacular.