I leaned in to see how she’d respond.
I know my response would have been curt. It would have been hard to hide my frustration. Upon hearing that someone hadn’t fulfilled their responsibility as they said they would, the Women’s Ministry Director of my church simply said, “How can we help you?”
That was the start of something new in me.
In that moment, I witnessed grace as I hadn’t seen before.
Being a part of the Women’s Ministry Team at my church gave me a front row seat to many things I had never seen as an adult: grace instead of gossip, compassion instead of expectation and love for Christ more than love for self.
That season of serving on the Women’s Ministry Team opened my eyes to a crucial element of the Christian life: community.
God was so wise and loving when He designed us to need community and fellowship. Not only does fellowship encourage us, but it sharpens us.
“As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.” –Proverbs 27:17
God designed us for community so we could challenge one another and spur one another on in our pursuit of Christ.
The only way this can happen, though, is if you engage. You must be willing to be vulnerable: start a new bible study, walk into a new class on Sunday mornings, attend an event where you know no one. It’s excruciating and intimidating, I know. However, if any substantial change is going to come through your life via the means of community, you must take the first step of vulnerability.
Let me assure you though, that if you keep at it – keep showing up, keep engaging even when it’s hard, keep pursuing others when you feel as though no relational progress is being made – God will provide.
He has done so with me. When my husband and I moved to Pensacola and started attending our church, we didn’t know a soul. But we kept showing up. We kept attending. We powered through the awkward get-to-know-you conversations seeking relationships with depth.
And God has richly blessed us. God has provided me with a harvest of wisdom, encouragement and sharpening through the women at my church. I want to share with you the ways in which God has sharpened me through the community of women at my church:
- Sheryl taught me how to think critically and use the intelligence God gave us
- Andrea taught me how to mentor another person by focusing on discipleship instead of what I can offer
- Rachael and April taught me how to have a wild love for Jesus
- Cathy taught me how to speak the truth in love as she’s helped me identify when my pride or selfishness gets in the way of loving others and serving Christ
- Pam taught me what it looks like to be in constant relationship with the Lord
- Faye, Karen and Deb taught me that involvement in church is not bound by age
- Melanie taught me how crucial it is to be obedient, as it can profoundly impact others
- Mary taught me how to have an effective quiet time with the Lord
- Judy taught me the beauty of serving consistently and quietly
- Vicky taught me how to have a passion for growing in the knowledge and wisdom of God’s Word
- Karen taught me how to cling tight to Jesus when your world feels like it’s crumbling around you
- Nadine taught me how to love God’s Word and apply it to my life
All of these women make me want to love Jesus and God more.
And that’s exactly the point of Proverbs 27:17. When it says that we are to sharpen one another, this means we are to help each other grow in our love for the Lord and in the maturity of our faith.
I am confident that much of what I listed above would not have come about on my own. Can God change us individually and independently? Absolutely. However, God wants us in community at our local church so we can grow and mature in ways that we simply couldn’t if we were by ourselves.
If you’re longing for community, encouragement and sharpening, be vulnerable; then stay engaged in church. Step in to those relationships that are brand new and keep pressing on. God will take those relational seedlings and transform them into a garden of abundance.