“But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” (Matthew 6:33)
I’m telling stories of how God provided for Lesley and me as we tried to “seek first his kingdom”. This one is about Lesley, before we knew each other.
From 1972-75, Lesley trained to be a teacher at Ripon College. It was a time when the “charismatic renewal” was in full swing. Lesley was baptised in the Holy Spirit and became part of a local house church. As graduation approached, she was convinced that she should aim to move to a similar church. With a good connection to one in Bradford, she believed she should move there.
When she enquired about jobs in Bradford, she found it was “ring fenced” – no new teaching jobs were being offered that year to people from outside the city. Her college teachers tried to persuade her to move to London, where there would be more jobs available, as well as performing opportunities with percussion, her special interest.
Despite this, she believed she should go to Bradford. For her, this was to “seek first the kingdom of God”. She had an offer of living in a shared house with another girl from church, so after graduation, just after her 21st birthday, she headed for Bradford with no job, needing work for the summer, and with just £100 in her pocket from her birthday present.
Within a week, she had not one but three jobs!
First, she was offered a temporary job as a waitress, giving her an income through the summer. This was quite surprising because she had previously applied there and been refused – they only wanted staff who would stay till Christmas. The owner changed his mind and contacted her.
Second, she got a part-time job teaching percussion at Saturday morning classes, so she could continue her special interest.
Finally, she got a full-time teaching job in a middle school in Otley, which fell within Leeds rather than Bradford. There’s an extra story here. Although Lesley is a great music teacher, she’s not very confident with Maths. If she had been applying for a specialist music job at a secondary school that wouldn’t matter, but in a middle school where there would also be general teaching, it was a big deal.
She went to one interview at which she didn’t get the job. Afterwards, the Advisor at the interview came out to talk to her. She had generally interviewed well but struggled when she was asked about teaching Maths. He knew she had another interview the next day and told her how to answer that question if it came up!
Armed with that advice, she went to the interview, followed the advice, and got the job. It turned out that there had been 84 applicants for the post.
Being part of a strong church is a vital part of our Christian growth and discipleship. Lesley was willing to make that a priority, risking the loss of her precious percussion, and facing serious challenges. She found that God is faithful – when we “seek first the kingdom” then he does add to us what we need.
There was an extra bonus. Soon after Lesley moved to Bradford, the church she joined merged with two others. In one of them was a young man called John. I am very grateful that Lesley put God first!