Aleah Marsden is a writer, speaker, Bible study leader, wife, and mother of four. You will hear her refer to herself as “just average, ” unequipped to teach or lead. And yet, that’s exactly what she does: she brings the word of God to others in ways they can understand and apply to their daily lives. She speaks directly to those who feel they are too “ordinary” for God, equipping and empowering them to serve in extraordinary ways.
The primary goal of your work is to draw women deeper into God’s word to plumb the depths of the riches they will find there. What specific message do you hope women will find?
That we are valued and loved beyond what we can imagine. That each of us has been given an individualized calling and specific gifts to steward, living empowered by His strength and guided by His Spirit. That we have access to all we need to fully utilize our gifts and walk into our callings to bless others.
As a busy wife and mother of four, do you have any encouraging words or advice for those who feel too overwhelmed with the daily grind to delve deeper into God’s word and apply what they find to everyday living?
Have grace with yourself. Don’t give into the temptation to feel guilty for what you can’t do, but rejoice in all the little things you can do. Read scripture daily. Whether you read a book, chapter, or verse, pray God would speak to you and give you understanding through what you’re reading. I’ve found it helpful to set an alarm to remind myself to take a minute break in the midst of my crazy day to reflect on what I read and pray I would be in tune with the Spirit’s guidance throughout all the mundane business of daily life. I also try to redeem my downtime. For example, I drive a twenty-minute commute twice a day to bring my older kids to school. I use that time for listening to worship music, prayer, and even scripture memorization. Bottom line, do what you can to be found faithful in the small things. God cares about the motivations of our hearts.
You’re currently working on a Bible study curriculum about Peter and his service to and relationship with Jesus. You explain that Peter was average in every way, and yet Jesus used him to serve in amazing ways. Why do you think that message is so important for people to hear?
Sometimes, when we hear amazing stories of how God is working in the lives of others, we look on as outsiders amazed at what God is doing with them but unsure how, or if, His plans include us—the ordinary and average believer. In Peter’s narrative we see a guy who was as average as they come, but whose life is completely transformed as he begins to literally walk daily with Jesus. He had no special qualifications, but he chooses to step out in faith when Jesus calls him to follow. I believe Jesus brings each of us to a place where He asks us to follow wherever He will lead, regardless of whether that is across the globe or across the room. My hope is that as people get to know Peter as an average man they can relate to, that they are inspired to see how their own stories fit into the bigger picture of God’s plans for His people.
Our cultural emphasis on “greatness” coming from money, prestige, academic titles, etc. must make your work particularly challenging. As a mom raising young children, how do you counter these notions?
I strive to teach my kids that God has as many different ways to serve as He has made people to serve Him. In 1 Peter 4:10, Peter writes that we are to “use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.” We pray together daily (making a sacred space of our time in the car) for God to teach us more about Himself, more about ourselves, and more about how He made us to serve Him here. I don’t want my kids to feel pushed into full time ministry or missions because they think those are their only options to serve God. I want them to fully utilize their God-given gifts and abilities to serve Him in any vocation, spiritual or secular, to which they are led. It’s then our responsibility as parents to help them identify their gifts and provide opportunities and encouragement for them to develop. There is no single definition of success, though our culture would pull us to believe otherwise. Just like our varied callings, success will look different to each person though we are united in our call to serve.
In what way can all of us—young and old, average and extraordinary—find the courage to step forward to serve in amazing ways?
We have to know that the One who calls us is worthy—of our trust, of our love, of our lives. The more we seek Him, the more we come to know His character, the more we will see Him demonstrate His love and care for us. When you have every reason to believe He’s trustworthy from how He’s walked with you during every little step, it makes it easier to trust Him not to leave you when it’s time to take larger, more courageous steps.