The end of November is the busiest time of year for someone serving in church ministry. We know that our doors will be wide open and the opportunities to reach out will multiply. Everyone is “all in” and “all on” for certain assignments. Being stretched during the holidays is something that we realize and expect. What isn’t as predictable is how we might feel during those stretching seasons.
What if you feel inexplicable loss? What if you feel explainable yet irreversible grief? What if confusion paralyzes your energy? What if doubt begins to steal your joy? If you feel relational tension moving in like a fog?
It was a tough realization for me a few years ago, that not everyone was going to get me.
Lets think about the disciples for a few minutes. Jesus told them—some people aren’t going to get you because they didn’t get him. It’s true if you’re in the best ministry environment, and also true if you find yourself in the worst. Jesus told them–in this world you’re going to face some stuff you can’t control, but He would overcome it.
Humans will tend to act human and that’s just something we can’t skip or fast forward. I think our kids are going to struggle with this more—not having to watch a single commercial in their lives. They’re used to being able to skip ahead past the tangents, distractions, temptations, and crazy makers. I used to wish I could give this to them, an ability to skip those parts of life, but now I find myself hoping they will experience them out in the open while they are young and in our care. I would like for them to be able to feel OK in them, able to keep going in them, for them to remain whole in them, and free from fear.
On days when I’m being nice to myself, without minimizing my own needs or judging them before they have had a chance to speak, I would say I want this for me too.
And I always want that for you, for anyone who may feel dis-empowered, hurt, or unseen in ministry.
So what do you need when life starts to take your breath away?
We need to ask a question. One revealing and powerful question:
A good friend of mine received prayer before she headed into a new and challenging ministry. The person who prayed over her spoke something to her that I liked. She said, “people may misinterpret your intentions during this season but just remember…SW, SW, SW.”
Some will get it.
Some people are going to get you, believe in you, and join you.
Some won’t do any of that.
Some days will feel heavier than others.
Some things won’t work out in our favor.
But the question we have to ask is this—so what?
So what if some things don’t work?
So what if someone misunderstands our intentions?
So what if your life looks different?
So what if you lose or miss or fail?
So what if your vacation starts on December 26th?
So what if you return the favors of hurt and disrespect even though there’s not a bone in your body that really wants to do that?
So what if we have to celebrate the small things like making dinner this week or washing the car?
So what if we feel like a superhero one day and a deflated balloon the next?
So what if ALL OF US still have such a long way to go?
When we ask “so what?”, we’re simply stating that instability doesn’t change the abilities of God. Period.
God is steady.
God is able.
We can keep going with confidence not because of who we are but because of who Jesus is…
Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.
For the Lord will be your confidence, And will keep your foot from being caught.
I put no trust in my bow, my sword does not bring me victory;
Some things will work. Some things won’t. So what?
Some will get us. Some won’t. So what?
We can be hurt by the people we work with and we can hurt other people too. Whether we like it or not, there are days when we dish out some of the same stuff that dis-empowers and breaks our hearts. Patience, grace, and confidence in God help us so much. The more grace we have for each other, the easier it will be to recover, transform, and continue in confidence.
Remember that broken systems are not the Church.
They are not the way of Jesus but Jesus makes a home in them. Jesus came for the broken systems and died for the people living in them. Jesus came to help us make the shift from bitter judgment to loving embrace.Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection can destroy barrier walls between us and God but also between you and I.
That’s why we can:
Practice faith together.
Push gently into difficult conversations.
Remain patient and stable.
Fight (a.k.a. love) FOR each other by staying around long enough to see what can be when we are patient, generous, kind, and long suffering.
Tell the story that everyone, including our own messed up selves, are wanted, beautifully wanted.
We’ve got to feel confident enough in the rougher stuff that comes our way to ask “so what”?
Have you felt overwhelmed? Have you wondered if you have what it takes to keep going? Have you questioned your abilities or wondered if youth ministry needs you after all? If the answer is yes, then ask yourself, “so what?”
Nothing about God has changed. Prop yourself up against that confidence, tie yourself to it, come back if you ran away from it, and please keep going. We need you to keep going.