One simple truth has become my anchor in ministry and in life. This truth:
- helps me to overcome my natural inclination toward perfectionism,
- prevents me from doing too much or too little,
- keeps my heart in check, and
- protects my relationship with those I’m ministering to and with.
If I’m not careful, it’s easy for me to slide into a fleshly, self-centered method of ministry. I become consumed with my own ideas of how things should work, what the results should look like, and what everyone should do to make it happen. In the process, I hurt others and get completely off track with the direction God wants things to go. My efforts to succeed turn into stress, overwork and burnout.
It’s a form of idolatry, and it’s ugly.
Several years ago, I was entrusted with a leadership role in a women’s ministry that was completely outside my comfort zone. I had no clue what it was supposed to look like or how to fulfill my role.
A gracious older woman gently reminded me of the one truth that has guided me countless times ever since.
“This ministry is not yours; it’s God’s.”
It sounds so simple, doesn’t it? It might even seem like common sense. Truthfully, it wasn’t a new revelation to me, but that’s when it penetrated deep into my heart and began to change me from the inside out.
Recognizing that the ministry is not mine (but God’s) removes my need for control. When I realize that I’m actually serving Him, that I’m merely acting on His behalf to fulfill His own plan and purpose for the ministry, I can let go of my own ideas. When things don’t go my way or the way I thought they should go, I can relax.
This truth is about God’s sovereignty. It’s remembering that He’s ultimately in charge. He is orchestrating all the details. So when “mistakes” happen, when people don’t show up, when plans change, I can be at peace in the knowledge that none of it surprises Him. He knew what would happen before I even began to think about it (Psalm 139), and He’ll make all things work out for His glory (Romans 8:28).
Understanding and believing in the sovereignty of God allows me to let things go. I don’t have to stress about all the details. I don’t have to panic when the unexpected happens.
While I want to be faithful and do my job with excellence, I also need to remember that I have limitations. I am human. There is only so much that my efforts can accomplish. The rest is up to the Lord.
I’m a wife and a mom and that means there are people in my life whose needs I must consider and care for before I can spend myself on other endeavors. Serving God in ministry does not mean I can neglect the other roles He’s given me. Remembering that the ministry is God’s – not mine – helps me to keep my priorities in order. If I must let go of some task or detail in the ministry for the sake of my ability to be faithful to my family, the truth of God’s sovereignty makes it possible. My attitude can be, “God’s got this!“
A Humble Heart
A heart of humility is rich soil in which to plant a fruitful ministry.
Remembering that the ministry is God’s – not mine – keeps me humble. It causes me to evaluate my motives and goals to ensure I’m in alignment with God’s heart. My focus shifts from myself to the One for whom I live (Acts 17:28).
Ultimately, any ministry is about relationships. Put simply, we exist to have a relationship with God, and we serve others to encourage them in their own relationship with God.
When I keep the right perspective of ministry, I don’t allow details and my own desires to come between me and those I’m serving with and ministering to. In fact, a lot of details take care of themselves when I invest my time and energy into the people instead of “all the things”.
The ministry I referred to earlier began to thrive when I recognized that it wasn’t about creating “successful” events as much as it was about encouraging and nurturing the women in their own relationship with Jesus. When I began to focus on faithfully shepherding the women on the ministry team on a spiritual level, their gifts flourished, the team was unified, and ministry happened. And it had nothing to do with my ability to plan or my diligent efforts to work out all the details; it was a by-product of building relationships. It was a work of the Holy Spirit.
Freedom & Fruitfulness
It’s God’s, not mine. This truth doesn’t apply only to ministry. It impacts every aspect of our lives. My whole life is His (Romans 11:36).
There is such freedom when I can let go of control, trust God with the details, and simply walk in faithfulness to Him moment by moment. The burden of responsibility is lifted in the sense that the results are not up to me. My part is faithfulness to do what He’s called me to do and to walk in obedience to Him with a humble heart. His part is to produce the fruit.