When I signed up for a church ministry, I never anticipated it would bring me one of the most challenging and rewarding experiences of my life.
“No one learns as much about a subject as one who is forced to teach it.” – Peter F. Drucker
We had been attending our church for about two years after I graduated from college. Due to college commitments I had never gotten involved in a church ministry, but now I had time. News in our church bulletin regarding the eating disorder ministry caught my eye.
Since I was fresh out of working through my own eating disorder and had a massive heart for anyone who suffered from the same agony, I knew this was the ministry for me.
I had no idea what I would encounter when I arrived for my first week.
My involvement began with attendance to weekly support meetings. I was simply a background presence as all the participants came to grow, be heard, and be encouraged.
The ministry was hurting for leaders. It seemed as though there were many more people suffering from eating disorders than those able to help. In a hurry, I was leading half of the weekly meetings and asked to take on mentoring girls one-on-one.
I had never felt so inadequate, weak and more like a hypocrite in my life. I wasn’t actively living in my eating disorder, but I felt far from whole and truly healthy.
Before leading each meeting, before doing each one-on-one, my knees would shake so badly I was sure others could hear them rattling. I would sweat with fear as I arrived. And I learned to never hold my notes in my hand, but kept them resting on my lap, so as not to let anyone see how badly my hands were shaking.
It was stretching to say the least.
As time went by, God continued to give me new and meaningful things to share with the group and my girls. But I was also awe struck by something different than expected. I could never be entirely sure how the participants were changing – the deep within their hearts kind of change. But I knew God and the girls were changing me.
I didn’t feel whole or worthy when I began the ministry. Getting involved was risky, required vulnerability and created accountability for all of us. But God was faithful to reveal to me how He had already healed me and where I still needed growth.
The group meetings kept me in tune with what healthy looked like. But my one-on-ones held me accountable to be honest, inspired me to be whole, and kept God in every step along my continued healing path. I set out to help others, but in turn, they helped me.
My mom used to always say to me, “to take your eyes off yourself, focus on how you can help others”.
Serving in the eating disorder ministry and mentoring girls one-on-one was one of the most beautiful, stretching and life-giving experiences I’ve ever been honored to be a part of. For me, it gave new life and meaning to Mark 10:45.
“For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
Have you ever set out to serve others and found it profoundly changed you? If you are finding yourself too self-focused these days, how can you look to serve others around you?
© 2012 Standing on Peace