Last November I tagged along with my husband to the annual Young Life College conference in New York City. Almost 13 weeks pregnant, I’d just recently had a conversation with my boss informing her that at the end softball season, I would not be continuing on as the KU Director of Softball Operations. I wasn’t leaving for another job nor was I leaving to be a stay-at-home mom. I knew that my vocational calling was in ministry. There was no job waiting for me, but I needed to have faith and trust the Lord in this calling even if it didn’t make logistical sense.
At that conference, we got to hear from a profound speaker who is on the executive leadership of Young Life. He told a compelling story of how he took a professional demotion to follow God’s calling in his life. His words have stayed with me through this season:
“A promotion in this life is getting one step closer to the thing that God has ultimately created you to do.”
God gave me confidence and clarity in that moment. Yes, I’m leaving a career that has a clean and clear road to professional prosperity and financial security. Yet it feels like this step out of college athletics and into full-time ministry is a promotion.
T H E . B E G I N N I N G .
For the past eight years, I have been serving in a ministry called Young Life. I became a student leader as a sophomore in college while I was also a student-athlete at the University of Kansas. My husband Kevin, who I was dating at the time, also became a volunteer Young Life Leader in the same year. Pouring our lives into college students, building relationships with them, mentoring them, and helping them grow in their faith has always been a passion that both Kevin and I have shared. This ministry is what kept us in Lawrence even after we both graduated from the University of Kansas and got married. In 2014, when we realized that full-time ministry with college students in Lawrence was our long-term calling, I was interning with Young Life and Kevin was preparing to transition out of personal training and into a full-time, paid role as KU Young Life College Director. The following year, I was a private softball coach and pursing this joint mission with most of my time alongside Kevin.
In the spring of 2016, I was offered the position as Director of Operations for the KU Softball Team and a chance to work under my former Head Coach, Megan Smith. Since I was already established in Lawrence, this opportunity was too good to pass up. I knew that taking this job in college athletics ultimately meant that I would be sacrificing Young Life, but at the same time, this job still fit into my primary calling to serve college students at the University of Kansas. In my mind, this just narrowed my focus to serving the softball student-athletes. I was excited to be around the game again at a high level and wondered what God had for me in the world of college athletics.
T H E . P R E S E N T .
During my two years as Director of Operations, I learned a lot about a career in college athletics and a lot about myself. I loved working under Coach Smith and of course working for my alma mater. Being around the game again was energizing and exciting for me. The Director of Operations job was difficult and tedious, but after my first year, I felt like I settled into my role and was thriving. However, I also quickly discovered that a career in college athletics meant sacrificing my gifts and calling to be in full-time ministry. While I was serving college students in a sense, I was more behind the scenes instead of in a direct mentoring and leadership role.
I missed the ability to build deep relationships with college students.
I missed leading Bible Studies and teaching students about Jesus.
I missed our weekly Young Life Clubs and engaging with new students.
I missed helping students find a community where they would be accepted and loved for who they are.
I missed spending my days working alongside my husband to reach students with the gospel of Jesus, build them up as leaders, and launch them into the real world.
Additionally, my administrative gifts that helped me succeed as a Director of Softball Operations were also needed in Douglas County Young Life. Kevin is such a natural pastor, teacher, and evangelist, but he needed help with the event planning and fundraising that comes with vocational full-time ministry. As his wife, who also feels a deep calling to this mission, I’ve felt compelled to come into more of a direct role by his side to help out in these specific areas.
We had dreamed about the upcoming transition even before the exciting news that I was pregnant with our first child! Our daughter Lydia’s anticipated arrival only confirmed that the time was now to pursue my calling because of my ability to work from home or bring Lydia on the job with me in ministry. In God’s perfect timing, Lydia’s due date was in mid-May, just after the conclusion of softball season. Sure enough, I packed up my office on May 11 and went into labor three days later! I’ve had the great joy of easing in to my new role with Young Life and in full-time ministry ever since.
T H E . F U T U R E .
Already, this summer has been filled with ministry to students who are in town and planning ahead for the upcoming school year. Our Young Life students love to come over to our house and hold Lydia while we talk about Jesus and life, and this brings me so much joy!
I also took over as the volunteer chair of our Young Life Committee for donor care and am using my gifts to serve on the financial side of our non-profit organization. Additionally, I am serving the greater mission of Young Life as a Personal Donor Development Coach, mentoring new Young Life Staff in their journey of fundraising personal support. While these two roles give me titles and direction, they don’t pay much. My dream is to help our organization get in a place financially where my role would turn into a part-time paid position that would be more sustainable for our family long-term. But this dream is ultimately uncertain and not guaranteed.
Regardless, I have learned this:
Permission to pursue a calling
does not come from a job title or a paid role,
but from a personal prayer life.
Seeking the Lord in prayer for the last five years since graduating college has put me on a path that has lead me here. I am more confident than ever in my gifts, my calling, and where the Lord is asking me to work and serve with the best of my time.
T H E . B O T T O M . L I N E .
As I step forward into this new season of motherhood, I wanted to share this important part of my journey too. Not only am I fulfilling my calling as a mother, but I’m also living freely in my calling to pursue the work that God has before me. The Enneagram-Type-3 “Achiever” in me has battled through a false need for having a paid job to be in ministry, but the Holy Spirit reminds me that’s not how the kingdom of God works.
So yes, I’m a stay-at-home mom perhaps by society’s standards. But to me, I went back to work the day I got home from the hospital. My work simply doesn’t look like the world’s work. There’s no paycheck transferred into my bank account right now, but my reward is in the joy and satisfaction of knowing that I’m walking in obedience to God’s calling on my life.
So here I am
by no means have I arrived
I’m one step closer
to what my Father in Heaven
ultimately created me to do
for His glory
and my good.
Cheers to promotions.
“And I am sure of this, that He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” (Philippians 1:6)