I am a person who loves new challenges and opportunities to grow ministry, business, knowledge and networks. However, not every idea is a good one, and if I pursued every new idea I have, I would most likely end up scattered in many directions, and a master of none.
I recently went through a time of questioning my ministry purpose. I was Pastor of Women’s Ministry and Executive Assistant at a church in Chilliwack, British Columbia. For fun I was taking every opportunity possible to travel around British Columbia and Canada, speaking to groups of women about their spiritual gifts, calling and purpose. I was growing increasingly discontent in my job at the church, where I was having few opportunities to teach and speak. I felt that my role at the church was to raise up leaders to lead within small groups to grow community among the women. So here I was, travelling and speaking, teaching women about their gifts, at the same time I felt I wasn’t using my gifts to their fullest potential. This wrestling within me lead to my decision to leave my position at the church to pursue speaking to women full-time.
I battled with the Lord about leaving my employment at the church for over a year. I was in a tug of war with God between what He had next for me in ministry, and my love for the women of my church. I really have no words for the inner turmoil I felt. If you are in this place, my heart goes out to you.
Here are a few of the things I’ve learned in this recent journey to my new purpose:
Don’t let fear hold you back.
Fear can threaten to hold us back from pursuing the purposes of God. However, we can use fear as motivation to take a realistic look at whether we have heard clearly from God about a new direction. If we use fear to weigh the risks involved in our choices, we can gain good self awareness which hopefully leads us to some heart conversations with Jesus.
Anger may be telling you something.
Looking back, I was often frustrated and angry in my position at the church because there was so much more I felt I had to offer in leadership and ministry. However, looking back I think God used that anger to motivate me to see that it was time to get over my fear of taking the next steps to pursue a new ministry He had in mind for me.
Unhappiness or discontent may be telling you something.
I realized that I was getting close to burnout at the church. The harder I tried, the more tired and frustrated I became. I thought that my frustration stemmed from what was going on around me, but I now see that my frustration stemmed from my disobedience to God’s call. I was the issue. I was just done at the church and God was moving me on.
Listen to your inner voice and the voice of others when they tell you that you just don’t seem like yourself lately.
I knew that I didn’t feel like myself, but I was doing my best to fake it. I know I’m not my best self when my ideas come to a stand still, and my passion to get up in the morning and attack my to-do list dies. When I’m at this point I realize that I’m headed for burn out or a pit of depression.
Pay attention when you are forming bad habits to cope.
Over-doing things like caffeine, shopping, compulsive actions, exercise, Netflix, alcohol, perfectionism, food … pay attention to yourself. What is really going on? Instead of turning to these things instead turn to Jesus and His word and see what He has to say to comfort you in your anxious times.
Know which voices to listen to.
In a time of transition there will be many voices vying for your attention. When I talked about my vision of what I knew God was calling me to, I heard voices of support, questioning, advice, offers of other employment … but through all the voices I needed to hear the voice of Jesus and what He was inviting me to do next.
At some point I had to take the leap of faith, hand in my resignation and trust that God was leading me where His grace would sustain me. We serve a great God, with great purposes and ways. God invites us to partner with Him to be world changers. And whether changing the world means making a difference for one person or millions, it’s worth the risk to follow Jesus and to serve others.