When I told my friends and colleagues that I was going to a Worship Central conference last week I generally kept my expectations fairly low, except, I said wistfully, you never know… I might just meet a nice single Christian man. The chances of meeting a guy with shared faith and interests including music seemed better than usual at an event with 100 worship leaders from around the world. Of course, I joked, he’ll probably be about 20. The Worship Central crowd generally seem pretty young and in my general experience, Christian guys I meet nearer my own age are usually married. All these generalisations only go so far though, as I’m not looking for a whole cohort of guys, just the right one.
I was also hoping to be inspired to do some more song-writing, and hoping to hear from God one way or another. The kids in my church have recently been practising listening to God for words for people, particularly about healing, and I’ve been impressed by how simple they have made it, encouraged by methods from the Catalyst festival and other places. They just went through a series of questions to God to narrow down whether the word was for a man or a woman, what camp site area they were staying in, what part of the body was sick, any other identifying features. They then were really brave in sharing these words and many people matched up to what had been heard and went forward for prayer, and some received healing. It wasn’t 100% accurate but it was simple and built their faith to hear from God. Seemed like something more adults should try, I thought.
So during the evening times of worship and meeting with God, when I felt like God was bringing a word or a particular passage of the Bible to my mind, I asked him who it was for. Normally in my smaller church congregation I would have shared a Bible passage that I felt God was speaking about that seemed relevant with the whole meeting, but this was a bigger meeting with more going on. The first night when we were encouraged to pray about healing I felt I had a word for a guy with a dark green raincoat. I couldn’t spot that raincoat over the rest of the week – but do get in touch if you think it might be you!
On the Tuesday night, I felt God gave me a passage from the Bible for a guy with a yellow T shirt. Moving around the room I found the guy, passed on the (not too controversial) word and he was encouraged by it. That felt great. The following morning I was talking to a few people, trying to find out which of the attendees at the conference were from Germany as I am hopefully going to be spending more time there with work in the coming years (Erasmus/EU funding permitting!). I found one guy who ended up coming from the complete opposite corner of Germany. But he pointed me to someone else who lived much nearer where I was talking about. In fact he was from the city near where I am going, and had links in the town where I will be working. Oh, and he was the yellow T shirt guy who I’d had the word for the night before. That made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. God had given me a real way in to being trusted by this guy, and we shared contact details and I really hope to see him and some of his contacts again when I go (So Gott will) to Germany.
That evening, God brought to my mind a passage of the Bible which could arguably have been shared with the whole group, as it really fitted with the topic of the evening and the way people were being invited to pray. I wasn’t sure about going up the front with it, as I felt like I’d already contributed quite a lot with a part of a song during the sung worship time. So again, I asked God who it was for, and what came to mind was the Captain America shield logo which I envisaged on someone’s shirt. I didn’t see anyone with the Captain America logo anywhere, so I didn’t share it, but I was still really enthused as the conference ended. There had been so much good teaching and times of worship and prayer where the Holy Spirit had moved powerfully.
I’d asked a question about supporting and mentoring women who are going into leadership roles and felt encouraged by the response to this which called on men to support these women as well as women to be role models. One talk by Rachel Hughes on Seasons in life prompted me to look back on my life and see the way God had been building leadership training and skills throughout the different jobs and places I have been, even though I’ve mostly been in churches which haven’t encouraged this so much. We’ve talked lately about how while young men showing leadership traits seem to get lots of invitations to be mentored and shadow church leaders in different areas, young women don’t seem to be offered the same opportunities. Partly this may be due to there being fewer female role models or an understandable reluctance to promote intense discipling relationships between a man and a woman. Perhaps some churches are looking for Mr Right to move into leadership ministry, while overlooking Miss, Mrs or Dr Right?
But also, maybe I’ve been waiting for Mr Right before expecting God to use me. I know I really need support and encouragement to step out into new things for God, and part of desperately wanting a partner has been wanting someone who will see the best in me and encourage me to be what God wants me to be, while needing my support to be the best he can be for God as well. I guess I’ve imagined my future as potentially a pastor’s wife or elder’s wife, where the opportunities to lead come as a couple. I know how I can get burnt-out when I try to do too much on my own, and I really don’t feel called to be single. But I also don’t want to put limits on what God wants to do through me.
So I’m trying to move on with some of the ideas that came up over the week of training. There’s another woman at church who is feeling motivated to lead some sort of prayer course which really seems to fit with the Prayer Course I was inspired to investigate further after some great teaching by Pete Greig. I wrote a song based on the riff I’d sung out on the Wednesday evening, asking God to let us know more of his love for us, and for his world, and then show more of that love. I taught it to the group at our church prayer meeting on Sunday night and have been asked to use it next time I lead worship in church. And I still believe God can lead me to the right person at the right time. Mr Captain America shirt was sitting in front of me on the bus yesterday morning. I jotted down the word and gave it to him in quite a low key way and he seemed very grateful. His partner/friend next to him got out the Bible app on her phone and found the verses, and I think they were both encouraged. I guess if it’s a choice right now, of finding Mr Right or finding more of God’s presence and purposes for me and my life, then I need to prioritise and let God come first.
P.S. – Check out the comment below for Captain America’s side of the story! Awesome.