Today. Oh man...today.
I've been putting off writing this post for a while, and God just keeps putting it on my heart to write, and truth be told I really don't want to but for the past 2 weeks I've been wrestling with Him about it. So today I finally am saying yes Lord I will write this.
First let me say ministry is messy. Its not just one aspect of it either its just messy. God doesn't make it messy let me make that very crystal clear. God is love, he is kindness and he is gracious but we as humans are the ones that mess it all up.
Second let me say that I am NOT writing this to bash anyone, harp on the gospel or anything like that. But I strongly believe that our enemy, oh ministry leaders you know the one, ya satan that guy....he wants to come in and steal your sanity, your family, your marriage and your ministry because you stand in his way of victory.
So I write this because those lies that satan is feeding you and your spouse need to die. They are lies that need to be out in the open for your congregation to know about and pray for you about. YOU as a ministry leader need prayer too and you are just as important as the people you are serving. Trust me you have got to stop believing the lie that no one will understand, or the lie that got me .... I have no one to turn to as a ministry leader. Wrong. You do.
We resigned from our ministry almost a year ago, and while we have been enjoying the time off from ministry and the restoration God has done, there is a part of me that misses some parts of ministry. But that's another post for another time. Today is about messes.
Ministry is messy because the burdens you bare are heavy. There are many different times people would confide in you and you can't say a word about it to anyone but God and that's really hard. Because you share in this hurt your people are sharing with you. You feel what they're feeling and its just emotionally heart-wrenching.
Ministry is messy because all of the different directions you're pulled into and it takes a toll. There were years that underneath all of the smiles we shared at church my husband and I couldn't stand each other. Dare I say ... we almost hated each other. We had to be in charge of this, be in charge of that, attend this function, make this, go here, say this, don't do this, create events and so on. All while ALSO both of us having a full time job schedule, a marriage and a little at home.
Where was the time for us to be a husband and wife? Where was the time for me to be a mom?
Vicki Courtney said today, "When we say yes to too many things we can actually be saying no to God."
Ministry leaders you can not have a full, thriving and effective ministry unless you start to delegate some things out. And yes maybe that means programs get cut unless someone steps up. Or maybe that means your church needs to know YOU aren't suppose to "do" it all.
As a former youth pastor, and looking back now, I wish I wouldn't have said yes to so many things. You can be jack of all trades but master of none. What I'm really trying to say is you can't do it all and do it all well. BUT you can do some things and do some things well. This is why the church is set up as the body of Christ because everyone has different gifts God has dished out and together we make up the body. And when the different limbs of the body come together what happens leaders?
It works the way it should.
Then are you as stressed? No
Are you in charge of everything? No
Is your ministry healthy and thriving? Yes
Ministry is messy because peoples feelings get hurt and they shut down. And you know what, this is another tactic satan will use to pull good things apart. When people assume things, when people feel like their opions or thoughts aren't understood, when things happen and nothing is done to help...feellings get hurt.
BUT what is the church there for ministry leaders? I askyou what is your church there for?
Is it to turn away those who you are "there for" or is it to keep a certain forum of people happy?
The church is there to save. Its a hospital NOT a hotel. And in hospitals there are emergencies, there a bloody messes, there are lives on the line. In a hotel its clean, there's an easy spirit, there are no messes ... just easy life, for those fortunate to afford to stay there.
So my question to you ministry leader...is your ministry messy? (Be honest because you can't allow God to fix it if you're not.)
If it is messy I encourage you to pray through these questions:
- What areas in my personal life do I need to allow God to work on?
- What area's in my ministry have I done the work but not allowed God to do the work?
- Are there things I need to let go of or cut out?
- What can I delegate to have a more healthy ministry, family, and leadership role?
- Ask God this: Break my heart again Lord for what breaks yours, so that everything for your Kingdom cause is not lost.
Ministry is messy because our own personal lives are suffering from lack of attention to our spouse, our intimate times with them, and the family time lost. Knowing what I know now, I would have taken a sabbatical sooner than last year. Don't get me wrong my husband and I loved the heck out of the teens we led for 6 1/2 years but we were very very strained inside our home. (If you're from our old church and you're reading this ... please don't take this as complaining at all because that's not what I'm doing at all by any means.) But there were times when so much was pulling at us we just wanted to give up on it all. We had a new family, new marriage, new ministry, fixer upper house, we had no literally a can of beans and milk in the fridge about 5 bucks worth of gas in the car about about 30 cents in the bank. It was tough, now those are the times that made us who we are today. BUT that darn lie that satan was feeding us I beg you as a ministry leader...... PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE don't listen to it.
What was it? We can't talk to anyone because we're leaders and we're suppose to have it all together.
You see what I have found out is that if satan can keep you covered in the darkness and make you believe you're all alone, yes all alone in the ministry GOD gave you, then satan has you in panic mode and he will attack everything about you. Remember he is a lion ready to attack you.
1 Peter 5:7-9New Life Version (NLV)
7 Give all your worries to Him because He cares for you.
8 Keep awake! Watch at all times. The devil is working against you. He is walking around like a hungry lion with his mouth open. He is looking for someone to eat. 9 Stand against him and be strong in your faith. Remember, other Christians over all the world are suffering the same as you are
I know this is a super long post today, almost done promise.
So what if instead of looking at these messes with your human emotion, you start looking at them through Gods eyes? You start praying over them with deeper prayers? You start stepping out in faith even when it goes against the norm of tradition in your ministry OR if it will make some mad at you, what if you pray for God to change the mentality you've allowed in by your enemy. You start believing again in the God that gave you everything in the first place.
Then and only then. . . will you have peace knowing that you're back on the right track. That your people God charged you with for right now are back on track and you can lead them and lead them well.
Don't give up. We didn't give up but we did however step out in big faith, and this timeit meant step away to see through God's eyes again and allow God to start a new work in us. And you know what? I know he will give you beauty for ashes just like he did for us.
Isaiah 61:3New Living Translation (NLT)
3 To all who mourn in Israel,[a]
he will give a crown of beauty for ashes,
a joyous blessing instead of mourning,
festive praise instead of despair.
In their righteousness, they will be like great oaks
that the Lord has planted for his own glory
Let me pray for you today.
Father I thank you for the youth pastor, for the small group leaders, for the assistant pastors, for the senior pastors reading this today. Enemy you have to leave at the sounds of our savior's name - Jesus. You can not have them anymore. You can not have their ministries anymore. God I pray that you give them your eyes to see around them. I ask that you breath new life and restoration into their souls, their minds, their family, homes and ministry. Give them confidence and boldness to step out in faith where they need to. I pray that you give them rest and perseverance to withstand the storms that their in. In Jesus name I pray amen.
Jamie @ Women Simply Thriving