Tag Archives: Ministry

Owning the Fire

Church staff.

I was there once upon a time. Feels like a lifetime ago but it’s only been a few years since I walked away from that work. Three years as “volunteer staff” in college & two years as official staff at a church plant of sorts was enough to burn me out.

For a long time, I wanted to blame the church for that. The pastor. The people. It was definitely someone else’s fault that I got burned out. That I walked away feeling defeated, used, mistreated, & ready to jump on the “I love Jesus just not church” bandwagon.

As I find myself two years later already quite involved in church again & enjoying it, I’ve had to own something – it wasn’t church that burned me out, it was my approach to it. 

Being my stubborn self I had to be burned to the ground before I could grow back healthier. There was no telling me anything to help me put out the fire before it raged out of control. I needed to learn how to set healthy boundaries. I needed to learn it was okay to say no, to step back. I needed to walk in humility without the mindset of “If I don’t do it, it won’t get done.”

In the beauty of the ashes I found those lessons. I found an identity apart from my work. I found a relationship with God that wasn’t based on my doing for Him, but on my being with Him. 

I’d be lying if I said I had it all figured out. That I knew how to put into practice those things I’ve learned. But the truth is whether I like not the Martha in me, the taskmaster, still rears it’s ugly head where there are things to get done. 

But that’s not the church’s fault. That’s not a pastor’s fault. Volunteers’ fault. A congregation’s fault. No, no one can own that except me. 

 

Throwback Sundays – A Prayer to Remind Us it’s So Much Bigger

I love this entire prayer, but especially need to be reminded of these lines:

We cannot do everything, and there is a sense of liberation
in realizing that. This enables us to do something,
and to do it very well. It may be incomplete,
but it is a beginning, a step along the way,
an opportunity for the Lord’s grace to enter and do the rest.

We may never see the end results, but that is the difference
between the master builder and the worker.

We are workers, not master builders; ministers, not messiahs.
We are prophets of a future not our own.
Amen.

Read the rest of it here.

Throwback Sundays…Identity Crisis

I’ve had plenty of conversations in recent months to be sure that many of us still fight through an identity crisis on a regular basis. We get wrapped up in labels and titles all too often. Those conversations are a reminder to me to never stop praying this prayer:

Lord, help us to root our identity in the fact that we are created, not in what we create.

You can read the rest of the original post here.

The Twenty – #1: The Most Difficult Thing about Working at a Church

Gary Molander is someone I have great respect for and someone I think you should know. And when Gary posted a list of 20 things he wanted people to write about I got some inspiration. So, welcome to The Twenty series. One post a week. One topic from the list each week. Some of them I already have countless ideas for. Others, not so much. So, it ought to be a good challenge. :)

#1: The Most Difficult Thing About Working at a Church

Looking back I honestly think that the most difficult thing about working at a church for me was what came after I left.

I have struggled since leaving my position at a church to feel like I am living my purpose. And I’ve just recently begun to understand why. I feel called to serve the Church. And for the last 7 years of my life serving the Church has been my job. Though I was only on staff for 2 years at a church prior to that I served in roles that were volunteer staff for lack of a better description. So for 7 years what I have labeled ministry has been very regular, very scheduled, very constant in my life.

Fast forward to now, and I am not doing anything close to that. I am involved in my local church and volunteer a bit outside of that as well, but not nearly on the scale that I have for so long. Yet, I still long to live for something greater than myself…to feel like I am living my God-given purpose.

I’ve come to the realization that I have defined ministry as a job rather than a lifestyle.  I came to equate serving the Church with vocational ministry and ministry with being on church at a staff. I put serving the Church in the box of church staff and ministry in the box of church staff. In my mind the way to serve the Church was to be on church staff and ministry was being on church staff. And the reality is I think many who work in churches today end up doing that same thing without even knowing it.

But ministry is so much bigger than being on staff at a church and serving the Church is so much bigger than vocational ministry. Ministry is life. Life is ministry. At the end of the day ministry is people, it is serving the Church, it is compassion and caring and supporting and encouraging and admonishing and discipling and mentoring and loving. It is life. And it happens in schools and department stores. On blogs and on airplanes. In medical offices and art studios. It happens wherever it is that God places you. And so does serving the Church.

As I retrain my brain and learn redefine the term “ministry” I see that I really am living my purpose. If I am loving Him and loving others. If I am living out my faith, using the gifts He’s given me, then I am living my purpose. I am serving the Church. I am doing ministry.

How do you define “ministry” and “serving the Church?”

When God Brings it Full Circle

When I quit my job at my church in June I left a pastor and his family who I had been doing life with and ministry alongside for 7 years. They were the closest thing to what felt like family I had ever had. About a year a half ago, though, things got messy. Not messy in any scandalous sort of way just messy in the sense that feelings were hurt and relationships honestly looked liked they would end, unable to be repaired. It happens, even in the church, because we’re people and we’re sinful.

But, we pushed on. Ministry continued but relationships were drastically different. It was a lot of work and not a lot of personal. Eventually that got to me because it led to me forgetting that I was working with people and also to not feeling treated like a person. I did a pretty good job, though, of suppressing all of that “for the good of the ministry.” Not  until after I left my job at the church did I realize just how much hurt and honestly bitterness I had built up.

I am glad I didn’t realize it until after I left, though, because it allowed me to leave well. I didn’t leave because of the negative things that had happened, I left because God said it was time to go. Since then, God has healed my heart and helped me to truly forgive.

It’s really cool to look back now and see God’s hand in all of it. Had those relationships not changed, I’m not sure I would have been willing to let them go and leave when God said it was time. He detached me and uninvested me because He knew I’d need that in order to follow His calling me away.

It’s also amazing to see how He has brought it full circle and redeemed and restored friendships. It took time…a lot of time and I’ve just been processing it all recently, but God has proven Himself faithful…as always. I am incredibly blessed to still have a friendship with people who have seen me at my best but more importantly at my worst.

My encouragement to you? Fight for the relationships, despite how awkward or uncomfortable or hard it may be, because they are worth it. But also be encouraged when things don’t go well, feelings are hurt, you feel “wronged,” or you don’t handle a situation well, that God is greater than all of it and He will redeem it.

A Prayer to Remind Us It’s so Much Bigger

I found this poem over on Skye Jethani’s blog recently and thought it was way too powerful not to share.

(This prayer is attributed to Oscar Romero, archbishop of El Salvador. He was assassinated in 1980 while saying the mass in San Salvador.)

It helps, now and then, to step back and take a long view.

The kingdom is not only beyond our efforts,
it is even beyond our vision.

We accomplish in our lifetime only a tiny fraction
of the magnificent enterprise that is God’s work.
Nothing we do is complete, which is a way of saying
that the kingdom always lies beyond us.
No statement says all that could be said.
No prayer fully expresses our faith.
No confession brings perfection.
No pastoral visit brings wholeness.
No program accomplishes the church’s mission.
No set of goals and objectives includes everything.

This is what we are about.
We plant the seeds that one day will grow.
We water seeds already planted,
knowing that they hold future promise.

We lay foundations that will need further development.
We provide yeast that produces far beyond our capabilities.

We cannot do everything, and there is a sense of liberation
in realizing that. This enables us to do something,
and to do it very well. It may be incomplete,
but it is a beginning, a step along the way,
an opportunity for the Lord’s grace to enter and do the rest.

We may never see the end results, but that is the difference
between the master builder and the worker.

We are workers, not master builders; ministers, not messiahs.
We are prophets of a future not our own.
Amen.

I don’t know about you but sometimes I just need to stop, take a step back, and remind myself that it’s so much bigger than me. It’s so much bigger than anything I have done or will do…haven’t done or won’t do. I am just a very small piece of His puzzle. Nothing like a healthy dose of perspective :)