Are you doing ministry for Jesus or with Jesus? One of the questions that rang in my head thanks to Samer Massad at NYWC 2019. It was a question that I think I have been wrestling with for a numbers of years and haven’t really been conscious of it. Was I being Martha, striving to serve, to do things for Jesus, to use my gifts and talents but fail to see that all He wants is for me to sit at his feet and BE WITH Him? Also at NYWC 2019 Albert Tate decided to hit me upside the head about the idea of remix. Does something old need a remix to be new again in your life? The week before that at Northview church, Steve Carter decided to pull out the scripture about remaining in Christ; "keep the remain thing the main thing". Then a few weeks before that I had a moment of weakness, of doubt, of insecurity, of pain and broke down while talking to my amazing wife. She said, maybe its cause you always try to do it on your own. Echoing in my ears, was this thought of striving, pursuing, pushing, driving towards what I thought God wanted me to do, what my job was calling me to do, what people expected me to do.
I have been doing youth ministry for the past 13 years. I have had the privilege of serving with some of the most selfless staff, leaders, volunteers and students over this time. I feel truly blessed and honored to be around such incredible people. I didn’t go to college to study how to be a pastor, in fact, I did a pretty good job of running away from that direction. I had an incredible youth pastor growing up and he encouraged me to think about youth ministry. I had bigger visions of making lots of money and living comfortably. As God always does, he put this longing in my soul for something that actually was a bigger vision for my life, working with this generation to help them see HIM, know Him & love Him. I knew in my heart of hearts that this was what I should be doing with my life. I stepped into the role of youth pastor at the church I grew up in, me Jesus in, was baptized in and loved. So… in typical Enneagram 3 fashion, I dove in and got after it. I had a chip on my shoulder trying to make sure everyone knew I could do it, even though I didn’t have the experience or the schooling. I kept pushing, driving and doing more with the ministry at church. I wasn’t good at asking for help, I needed people to see that I could crush it on my own. So for the next 13 years that was my mentality, not on purpose, but in my humanity I fell into the achievement trap of ministry. This doesn’t mean that God didn’t use my misguided subconscious. God has done so much in the past 13 years and has shown up time and time again (like there was ever any fear of Him not showing up). I have had a front row seat to God working in students lives, transforming them from the inside out to be reflections of Him. I tear up just thinking about all the ways I have seen God work these past 13 years.
I've had moments of clarity along the way, where I was honest with myself. I’ve had moments of candid conversations with people I trust about my inner drive to be loved for what I got done, to be loved for what I can accomplish, to find acceptance for being great at whatever I do.
What I wouldn’t give to go back in time and pop 25 year old me in the nose. Pop him in the nose and let him know that all the striving, all the pushing for more, all the stuff you went after in your head isn’t really the main thing God wants for you. Jesus told Martha in Luke 10 that Mary had it right, Mary sat at Jesus’ feet and was with her Savior.
I had been doing ministry FOR Jesus for far to long and it has to change. It has to change for myself and my own spiritual maturity. It has to change for my family and modeling what following Jesus actually looks like to my kids. It has to change for those I have the honor of leading, because they need to know the its not about what you can do, its all about what has already been DONE on the cross. No amount of striving can ever earn God’s love, it’s already been given to me. God loves me no matter what I can accomplish. My thick skull has been mulling this over for the past month or so and it was in TAMPA at NYWC ’19 that I think the hammer came down. I have to completely surrender all of me so that God has more to work with. I have to surrender my accomplishment attitude, my drive, my striving to Him in order for Him to get more out of my than I ever dreamed.
For anyone out there in the same boat, I feel you! I know where you are at and I know what the enemy is saying in your head. Ignore the insecurities, rest in your identity being in Christ and allow the Holy Spirit to actually lead your life. Control is a comfort but not a way to live the fulfilling life God wants for you and for me!
I am going to start sitting at HIS feet.
I am going to start carving out time to just BE in His presence.
I am going to sit and listen to that still small voice.
I am going to be sensitive to His spirit and direction for my life.
I am going to lead from a place of Christ like surrender.
I am going to stop striving, pushing and driving to be perfect.
I am going to get out of the way and let God be what HE always should be in my life… the leader!
That's my #NYWC19 moment…