Another weekend has passed and you are holding on to dear life after numerous challenges. You might be fried and frustrated with your team, pastor, church, or even all of them. You feel the burden of ministry and hear a nagging voice challenge even your place in life. Before you quit, just remember this profound truth: God has you exactly where He wants you, and it’s not your ministry. Have you taken responsibility for God’s part? No human can carry that burden without failing. Have you taken responsibility for the parts of others and started micromanaging? You will spread yourself too thin and cause tension with the people you should be encouraging and guiding along.
Did Jesus say, “You are Peter, and upon your strength, I will build my church” or, “You are Peter, and upon this rock, I will build my church” in Matt. 16:18? Scholars have said that by “this rock” (even though Peter’s name literally means “rock”) He was referring to Himself as the Rock upon which He would build His church. It makes sense, since which one of us would have the character or strength to be the foundation of the church? Still, we fall prey to carrying too much on our shoulders and thinking that we are irreplaceable. Even though we are unique, it is healthy to think that we can and will eventually be replaced. We are simply a part of a continuation of God’s story on Earth with a calling that fits in history and in our lives perfectly, nothing more, and nothing less. Our reward awaits in heaven as the work continues here through others that we are called to prepare for their share.
Here are some practical ways to help you figure out your part and make following your calling in His ministry easier:
Check your ego at the door.
The Bible is clear about humility, and nobody ever asked God to give it to them. Quite the opposite, God tells us several times to humble ourselves (James 4:10, 1. Peter 5:6). Humble people receive God’s grace (1. Peter 5:5), which will absolutely set you free to fail, to be open to others, to receive feedback, and to choose rest over one more task someone else was responsible for in the first place.
Allow God to show you what your part is.
The church is called God’s house for a reason. It is not yours, and you’re not building it. You simply have the honor of participating in His work by being one of the many workers. Phew! Since it’s God’s ministry, you’re not responsible for more than your part, which is really, really minuscule when it comes to the church at large. Learn to discern it and your responsibilities and to say no to ideas that don’t fit you. Instead, start asking the people bringing the ideas to lead them. You’ll be surprised by how few are ready for it and pleased by those who will. Either way, your burden becomes lighter!
Give yourself some grace.
Don’t be trapped by the idol of performance. Not everything you do will succeed. Bill Gates is said to not hire managers that have never failed. It’s not so much about the failure but how you manage things afterwards and what you learn from it. Some poor ideas and disasters have become the very ground for incredible successes that wouldn’t have happened without the failures before them. It’s a journey, keep walking humbly before God.
What can you change?
Do it intentionally, systematically and strategically. Look ahead and create an overarching strategy that serves the church and opens the door for others to step up and join you.
What can’t you change?
Trust God. Things will never go exactly as we envisioned, planned or even hoped. Your most abundant life happens when your priorities are straight before God and you give Him time to work on the hearts of others as well as your own. With the help of the Holy Spirit, the right people will catch on at the right time, and the results of God’s plans are always greater and better than our vision.
What unrealistic expectations have you placed on yourself and your team?
Have you ran your ideas and plans through your pastor and trusted friends who understand the journey you are on? Have you looked at your plans from the perspective of others and prepared them, over-communicating rather than not telling them what you’re envisioning? Every strategy and plan needs a reality check before implementation, and it needs to be communicated well before putting it into practice, or you will face opposition and dragging of feet when things should be rolling along.
Are you allowing your team members to fail?
If you pick up their slack and don’t hold them accountable, you will rob them from the possibility of growing and learning to do what God has called them to. Everybody needs to grow for the church to grow, make sure you’re not standing in the way.
What conflicts are you dealing with?
With your pastor – trust and serve him. With your team – manage them by being intentional. With churchgoers – find perspective from others and from God’s Word. Who do you have to talk with? Don’t solo it, but share your situation honestly with your trusted people only and be willing to learn.
He has called you, but it’s still His work and His church. Lean into Him and remember that this too shall pass. Remembering that you are only responsible for your part in His work frees you up to follow Him in all your plans, to rest in Him and enjoy the journey like never before, allowing your team members to shine in their due time. It’s not your ministry, now go continue it with a lighter heart!