It's hard when your faith becomes your job.
The other day I was sitting there, just thinking. I do that sometimes, just sit there and zone out as my brain follows some long train of thought. Usually, just on the verge of some brilliant epiphany, I realize I've been sitting there zoning out and I snap out of it. I never reach that epiphany. Just a long string of thought, and often one that doesn't bear any fruit. That's okay. It's how guys defrag their hard-drives.
But as I sat there, I was thinking about my involvement in ministry. How did I get here? Why am I here? Why am I planning to be done with this in a year? How can I put a timeline on this? How am I qualified for this?
Most of us are unqualified, actually.
There are days when I get up and go back to the grindstone. I try to make decisions about new things, wait for people to call me back or email me so I can move forward on a project, or prepare stuff, or try to be creative by myself - am I the only one who sucks at this? Projects and budgets pile up and I stall on making decisions about more abstract things. Why does this feel like work?
We plan retreats, camps, and other events directed at reaching kids, in the hopes that they might go and be disciples. And there's a lot of work that goes into it. From coordinating artwork for a mailing to planning a menu to booking a speaker to updating a database full of names, it's easy to get overwhelmed with tasks.
You start to ask yourself - is this ministry, or is this a job? Couldn't anyone do this stuff? Is my faith really tied into this, or am I just an event planner?
As I was thinking, I started to consider some of the people who inspire me. Ministry doesn't usually look like work to them. They're so sold out to their cause that all they need is the fuel of the Holy Spirit to propel them forward. They run on It. They always love what they're doing so much that they would never dream of backing out of it, right? Why don't I feel that way? Here I am thinking my time here will be done in a year and I'll move onto something else. Why am I not surging happily forward in ministry, energized as though the Holy Spirit was coursing through my veins like caffeine? Shouldn't I love every minute of this?
Yeah, I don't think it happens that way. I think that whole utopian pipedream feel-good thing is a big lie, especially when it comes to ministry. The Bible definitely never paints that picture. Nowhere does Christ say "abandon your family, and it will be smooth sailing." Ministry is hard, and I suspect that the people for whom it appears to be so easy have days of drudgery too. Sometimes it's the work of the Holy Spirit just to get me out of bed and put me back at my desk.
We'll be doing our first men's retreat next month. It's new territory for me. Yesterday, I went to meet with Pastor Miguel, who will be our speaker, to pray about it and work out some of the planning. We prayed, talked, had a few good ideas, and as we wrapped up we prayed again. Though he didn't when we opened, He prayed in English this time, and I was glad because he used a phrase that stuck with me. "May it not be just an event..."
May it not be just an event. I grabbed onto those words and repeated them, rolled them over in my brain. They fit so well.
That is exactly the attitude I need to have.
It's not just an event.