The moment you hear Trillia Newbell’s voice, one feature sticks out: her infectious joy. Although her books and articles have addressed such difficult topics as fear, sexual brokenness, and the need for diversity in the church, Newbell has a reputation for facing down darkness with an unshakable buoyancy. As she herself writes, “I’m not optimistic because I’m naïve (at least not completely) or because I think there isn’t evil in the world (my heart often proves otherwise) but because of the gospel.”
Despite Newbell’s successes as a writer and women’s ministry leader, however, her hope hasn’t been won easily. Like many whose day-to-day lives are shaped by ministry’s demands, she still struggles to balance her vocational service to the body of Christ with involvement in her local church:
I serve at the local church. My problem is that sometimes I’m at things like [this conference], and it takes me away from the local church. So, I don’t have trouble serving as long as I’m there, or home. . . . This is actually one of the things I asked my pastor before I joined—I was like, “I just need a safe place, because I’m ministering all the time. I don’t want to be ministering all the time. There are times where I just need to be able to cry, and weep, or ask for prayer. . . .”
There has to be space where everything can’t be ministry. Everything can’t be your ministry. And so my local church is a part of my ministry. . . . God calls us to a body, and I’m a part of that. I’m the pinky. I’m a part of his body, and I’m going to serve, and I’m going to serve in whatever way they need me to serve. . . . But I’m not going to go around handing out my articles. . . like, “Oh, here, buy my book.” I’m not going to do that.
That’s a shame; we’d probably buy it. Instead of making a sales pitch, though, Newbell joined CT managing editor Richard Clark for this week’s episode of The Calling, where she shares her wisdom on dividing one’s time between one’s calling and one’s congregation—stopping along the way to discuss the draw of Twitter debates, the joys of parenthood, and how remembering that we’re the worst helps us to love others best.
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The Calling is produced by Richard Clark and Cray Allred.
Theme music by Lee Rosevere, used under Creative Commons 4.0.