There are a ton of fabulous books out there about themes, special events, logistics, theory, encouragement and stories for the disciple called to professional ministry with children. There are few that make ‘the shelf.’ On ‘the shelf’ are the ones I go to often as must-have resources. Rise Up: Choosing Faith over Fear in Christian Ministry, written by Vanessa Myers, is the one that has it’s own spot on ‘the shelf’ and one I will gift out to many because it will absolutely help you stay the course.

Vanessa Myers is in the trenches which gives her great credibility in my book and in my heart. I know Vanessa. We’ve shared ministry, stories, and life for a lot of years. To God be the glory, we are still in ministry. What Rise Up: Choosing Faith over Fear in Christian Ministry brings to ‘the shelf’ is truth about feelings, experiences, the shiny and the crud which comes from following God’s call into professional ministry. Something happens between 18 months and 3.6 years in serving in professional ministry that drives most to throw in the towel. But for those who persevere

Vanessa is vulnerable and hopeful. She is honest and funny.  Each of the 12 chapters addresses fears she has faced which we all could share at different times along the journey. From the fear of God’s calling, fear of criticism, fear of moving, and fear of letting go, to name just a few, she gives personal accounts of what it looks like, sounds like, smells like, and feels like. But she doesn’t leave you walking the tightrope. She writes of her reactions and the hope. Oh the hope she offers in each chapter she headlines as ‘Finding Freedom.’

She closes each chapter with a prayer. I’m glad. When I’ve ever been overcome with debilitating fear I hardly had the words or vocabulary beyond ‘Lord, please make it stop!’ (which is a perfectly good prayer, but I want more to offer my Lord.)

My absolute favorite part of her book is how she offers an account from the Bible for each fear. When I’m afraid I need to know that I’m not the only one and this is priceless. For example, Chapter 5 is entitled: Surrounded by Fire…Fear of Criticism. She reminds us that Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego ‘didn’t please the king.’ She continues, ‘When you work in the church there’s not just one person you want to please, but many people. When you are being attacked in your job, it is hard…criticized by other Christians. Usually when people complain about you in the church they don’t go to you directly. They go your pastor or a committee.’ Yet she found comfort as did the three young men in the fiery furnace. ‘The first step into walking through the fire was to forgive. The next step I took was to allow God to be my shield. God’s presence was there. God’s love was there. God’s protection was there.’ As reminded in Psalm 3:3-4, David writes “But you, O Lord, are a shield around me, my glory, the One who lifts my head high.” Whew! I’ve got to get that on a pillow!

I wrote all over this book. Here are a few of the writings that jumped off the pages…

Seeking the Lord requires good spiritual disciplines or habits. Yes!

His calling for your life is important, but His desire for you to know Him trumps all. Yes!

Pressing into the Lord, I believe, involves a few steps: being aware of His presence, reading the Bible, and singing. Yes!

Lack of support does not mean that I am a failure. I will always have the best supporter on my team, Jesus Christ. Amen!

When I asked Vanessa if she was surprised by anything since she’s put the book, er..her heart out there. She said, “My biggest surprise is how the book has been speaking to more people than those in the ministry. God is using it to speak to people who need to hear it right when they need to hear it.” I am so glad she obeyed the Lord and wrote this book….for herself…and for US!

You can order your own copy at Amazon AND you can win a free copy of Rise Up: Choosing Faith over Fear in Christian Ministry by commenting below with a scripture which has helped you to rise up and serve the Lord. The winner will be announced on next Tuesday’s blog. Your heart and your ‘shelf’ needs the words shared in Rise Up.

“Don’t hesitate to be enthusiastic – be on fire in the Spirit as you serve the Lord! Be happy in your hope, stand your ground when you’re in trouble, and devote yourselves to prayer.” Romans 12:11-12, CEB

The free book give away week is complete. The winner is Jen Clark, a children’s pastor who serves Mountain View United Methodist Church in Marietta, Georgia.