When I started Beneath the Tangles eleven years ago, I didn’t think of it as a ministry—it was simply an approach to a hobby from a personal, Christ-driven perspective. There had been a few individuals out there, trailblazers, who’d analyzed anime the same way, but not with the consistency and fullness that we would eventually take. So the territory was still new and untamed.
In other words, I wasn’t sure what it was going be, or really, what I was doing.
Certainly it hadn’t yet formed in my mind that life itself is worship, and that activities and tasks are ministry, wherever we go, whatever we go, and with whomever we engage. I was incredibly blessed that, even without this understanding, God led me down a path toward doing something I love and that, indeed, was a good match for me. I hope that our volunteers feel similarly.
I wonder if you’ve found a similar place, that ministry to which you “belong” or feel called to. While some have a clear conviction or idea of how they should serve, this is an area of struggle for many. You may have even just given up on finding something meant for you as you partake in God’s plan of redemption, instead just getting plugged into children’s ministry when you don’t particular do well with kids or being part of your youth group’s band when you might not enjoy it.
You might have just quite serving entirely.
Rejoice, folks. There is hope. And I think it starts in a backwards way from how I approached things, a smarter way. It starts with, no surprise, God and you, and specifically how he designed you and how your experiences have shaped and continue to shape you.
Let’s start with gifts. I recently took a spiritual gifts assessment, and found it more helpful than earlier ones I’d taken, maybe because I know myself better now than I did when I was younger. But in addition to the test, which indicated leadership, discernment, and administration among my gifts, I’ve come to realize that other facets helped determine how I found my sweet spot with this anime ministry, and thus, how you might find yours as well.
For instance, a second thing to consider is personality. This is where you might think about personality tests you’ve taken and what they say about you. Would you rather focus on people or jobs? Are you down in the details or out higher up as a visionary? By adding your gift to knowing your personality, you’ve already started to open a path.
Take evangelism, for instance. If your gift is evangelism, but you’re an introvert, could it be that your place might be in designing digital evangelism materials rather than physically deploying to China?
Passion is critical, too. The example of designing materials for missions would only make sense if the individual had an aptitude and love for graphic design. Likewise, what is it that you like to do and who do you care about? For instance, while I obviously like anime a lot, I also enjoy writing, and I like cinema in general. These passions prepared the way for my work through this ministry. But beyond hobbies and skills, passion extends to groups that you care about, or experiences that have defined you. Do you love hiking? How about a hiking ministry? Did you overcome substance abuse? How about helping those struggling with addiction? The possibilities open as you hone in on a ministry meant for you.
Finally, consider where you are now. Why has God placed you where you are and in the situation you’re in? Some ministries, for instance, might just not be open for you now, particularly if you’re still in high school or if you have young children, though those situations, themselves, present an audience and place for you!
Your impact can be felt wherever you are, as can your resources. For example, you might be wealthy or have strong connections that allow you to participate in a ministry through those means.
When these four items come together, I bet you’ll discover a ministry that will excite you and in which you’ll be effective. Maybe there will be an outlet for it at your local church, or maybe by partnering with some other group already doing the work. Or, you could do what I did and start something new. There’s no limit to ministry as there’s no limit to God.
So explore. Look for your place in ministry. Go be an ambassador by running media for children’s worship or doing carpentry for friends and neighbors or writing about those awesome Japanese comics you love. Find your place and let the work God is doing in you become the tools for shining his light in your corner of the world.
The organization of this approach is not my own, but it’s how I lived out ministry before seeing it given shape through short course I was attending, which in itself was inspired by the S.H.A.P.E. program.