Being in ministry had been a dream of hers from her earliest memories. She wanted to serve God with her life, so when she married a man who had the same desire, she felt like her dreams came true.
They went into ministry together and God blessed their efforts. They saw lives changed. They were part of a community that wanted to make a difference in the world. They could feel God at work in and through them.
But then things started to get difficult. False accusations were made. They were struggling financially. Dear friends left their church family. Fingers were pointed in their direction. Discouragement and depression set in.
She began to question it all. Why are we doing this? God, are you still there? Is this where you want us? Really?!! It got worse when HE began to question. Maybe he shouldn't have gone into this ministry thing. Maybe it would be better if he just earned money and gave to the poor. Maybe they weren't cut out for this whole ministry thing.
Does this scenario sound familiar?
Serving God is never easy. Oh, it is rewarding and there are times when you can't imagine NOT doing exactly what God has called you to do.
But that doesn't make it easy. And the truth is that God never intended it to be easy.
His pattern for calling the disciples was by simply saying, "Come, follow me". And his disciples did exactly that. They gave up everything- their jobs, their families, their homes- and they went.
In theory, we understand this idea of following Jesus. We sing "I surrender all" and we mean it. But then...
...the ministry family in the neighboring town gets to go on a trip to Italy
...the church around the corner is growing by leaps and bounds
...every decision your husband makes is questioned and dissected
...everything is just so HARD!!!
Questioning ministry begins for a myriad of reasons, but I want to address three of them specifically.
1. comparing your ministry to others
Personally, this is the one that I struggle with the most. My husband and I have served together in many different churches of various sizes. In the process, we have learned that we are called to smaller church ministry. We love the community of a smaller group of believers. We love getting to know the people that God has called us to minister to.
My kids participated in a soccer program this Fall that is put on by a local church. This program is HUGE and the first time that we walked on the fields, I was a bit overwhelmed. This program has been running successfully for years with hundreds of families having been touched by the ministry. The program is well run. The kids LOVE it. The parents enjoy talking with one another. It is great!
But... it caused me to start questioning things. Our church is close by. What do we have to offer? We can never compete with THIS. So why do we try? Why do we put so much effort into our little community, when THIS is right around the corner?
As my dissatisfaction grew, I realized that I was falling into the comparison trap. When we look at ministry as a competition, when we think that it is a numbers game, when we try to measure our success based on what others are doing, we will question everything. And we won't be faithful.
Wouldn't Satan just love that? When we start falling into the comparison trap, we need to take those questions to the throne of Jesus. And we need to leave them there. Because God has put each one of us in the different ministries that He has for a reason. They are supposed to look different for a reason. I love when Paul says in 1 Corinthians 3:6 "I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow." What if we were all trying to be planters? Or what if we were all trying to water? Understanding that our ministry is part of a bigger plan that GOD causes to grow, will change everything. We won't be able to compare, because God's plan, His measure of success, is vastly different than ours.
2. feelings of inadequacy
Perhaps comparing your ministry with others is not an issue for you. Instead, you struggle internally with whether you are truly qualified to be in ministry. Maybe you question your abilities, your significance,why God would want to use YOU. Many ministry families struggle with depression- either on the part of the minister or his wife. Why is this?
I believe that Satan would like nothing more than for God's people to believe these feelings of inadequacy. He preys on our weaknesses.
At the same time, I am learning that God wants us to understand that we ARE inadequate. We're not supposed to have all of the answers. He never intended for us to have it all together. He never meant for us to be the perfect ministers of his gospel. Because being in ministry is not about us; it is all about Him! Our "success" in ministry must be for the sole purpose of bringing glory to God.
What would change if we started seeing those feelings of inadequacy as a gift from God, instead of a debilitating spiral that leads to depression?
When I was in college, my Dad sent me a letter and included an anonymous quote that has been burned into my memory. It says, "in our inadequacy, Christ is sufficient." I repeat this quote often to myself along with Philippians 4:13, "I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength".
The truth is we ARE inadequate in ourselves. When we try to do ministry, in our own strength, we will fall short. And we will be disappointed. We will never be good enough. But when we understand that our inadequacies are meant to drive us to Jesus, to trust Him with our lives, to allow Him to work in us, well then- God can accomplish His will in and through us!
3. trusting God
When I find myself in a place of questioning, I find that it always comes back to my level of trust in God on that particular issue or in life itself. If I am questioning His purpose and His plan, I am not trusting Him to be enough. I am leaning on my own understanding (Prov. 3:5).
And so, all of these questions must be taken to God in prayer. The questions are not the problem- where we go to find the answers is the important thing. I take my questions to my great God who has promised to always be with me (Matt. 28:20). I say of him, he is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust (Psalm 91). I am confident that He who began a good work in me will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus (Phil. 1:6).
|His promise to us is secure!|
Do you ever question your ministry? Do you wonder what God is doing and why He has you where He does? Do you ever grow discouraged or weary in service?
This is a safe place to share those questions. Feel free to share your thoughts on our facebook page (for the (in)couraged Flock), in the comments here, or email me at ohappydaye at gmail dot com.