When I was a college student, I said yes to God’s call to ministry. I imagined being part of something holy, something bigger than myself. I wanted to give myself to the work of making the world a better place. Now, after several years in ministry, I feel more self-centered, rather than less. I spend way too much time wondering if I’m getting the credit I deserve, and thinking about why others have more opportunities than I do. I crave affirmation about how I’m doing. Moments when I give myself away, and feel part of God’s larger work, are few. I wonder what I should be doing. Should I be doing something else?
Your honest email reflects a minister’s growing pains. You heard God’s call to ministry, pictured the possibilities of living out the gospel for others, and said yes. Then you found that your job was leading you down a path that you didn’t think you signed up for. Now your vision for ministry and your practice of it are in serious discussion. While your discomfort may be causing you to question your vocation, your struggle with this also indicates spiritual growth. Wise ministers will strive to blend Christ’s vision for ministry into the nitty-gritty details of living out that ministry. Whenever we leave out the vision or the living of it, we lose our way. When we blend them together, we find our path.
So, remember what you saw when you said yes. Remember the potential you glimpsed of a life given to God. Remember the wideness of God’s loving work. Remember the life-giving Christ who makes it all possible. Keep those visions close, visit them regularly, and make room for new ones. Wouldn’t God who gives initial vision for ministry continue offering dreams for the work ahead? When ministry feels too small, we need God’s vision to move us beyond ourselves. God will bring imagination, inspiration, and ideas to the dullest meeting or task when we open ourselves to see the gifts God brings.
Also remember that Christ’s vision needs the work of ministry to make itself known. When we remember God’s larger purpose, our smaller tasks matter more by adding to a bigger picture. Such vision can remind us why we do what we do, and make that work more meaningful. Whenever we find ourselves self-absorbed at work, we need to step back, find our perspective, and start again. When arrogance and competition abound, we can remember to rest with the one who emptied himself, and pray to begin again.
Blessings as you blend Christ’s vision and Christ’s work together,
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