It can’t possibly be ok for me to feel tired! After all, there are persecuted Christians all over the world and missionaries who labor tirelessly for Christ.  I have it so easy just leading two LIFE Groups.  I have even cut back from ministering every week at the women’s prison.  Those were my thoughts in the spring of 2016 along with an overwhelming feeling of guilt.
I have had a calling for women’s ministries and have led Bible studies for 22 years, along with other ministries inside and outside BBC. Not to sound holier-than-thou, but I honestly don’t make a move without prayer, seeking the Lord’s will in everything.  I know that when I lose my peace, I have stepped outside the Lord’s plan for me.
Last spring, I was doing what I had been called to do, so where had my peace gone?
I was feeling a tug to get to know my neighbors better so I would be in a better position to evangelize, and I was discontented for the first time in 22 years in leading women’s groups. Was the Lord calling me in a different direction completely? Sometimes, it’s hard to know even when our only desire is to be right in the middle of His will.
Another completely random thought that came into play was from a conversation I had had with Jay Fennell. He had asked the question, “If you get run over out here on Concord Road, who will carry on for you?”
I asked for another meeting with Jay where we discussed all that I was feeling and praying about. He gave me a book to read about becoming engaged with one’s neighborhood. He also encouraged me to take a summer sabbatical.  Wow!  Who knew that was even possible; right?
My Tuesday night LIFE Group was accustomed to being “off” for the summer. Frequently, I would host devotions or a short study for the summer but not always.
The LIFE Group on Sunday morning was another matter. This group was accustomed to my standing before them each week as a regular Sunday School teacher.  They were all mature believers who served in various capacities in the church and in our class and fully capable of leading themselves for the summer if I could just help them believe it.
First of all, I role-played and showed them the difference between teaching and facilitating. Several who would never have agreed to teach, agreed to facilitate a lesson.
Shelia McCulloch, a class member and excellent organizer, drew up a summer schedule. Some Sundays they had a guest teacher.  Some were facilitated by class members.  Some involved field trips to visit our other campuses.  Every Sunday was filled.
Out of this too came a class member who loves to teach and is now co-teaching with me. Remember the Concord Road question?  Resolved!
I wish I could say I evangelized my entire neighborhood. I learned that building relationships with non-believers is a slow process, built brick by brick, that will probably take the rest of my life.
I can say I returned to both LIFE Groups in September with renewed energy, focus and once again the knowledge that I am where I should be until He calls me to serve elsewhere. What an awesome God we serve!

Written by Claudine Irby, Leader of Faith Builders LIFE Group on Sunday mornings and Women of Faith on Tuesday evenings. Claudine worked for AT & T for 30 years and retired as General Manager for TN/KY. She has been a member of Brentwood Baptist for 41 years, serving as Trustee, SRT member, LIFE Group leader, and has taught women’s Bible studies for 22 years. Her daughter Jamie Bennett works in our Missions Ministry.