recently, the Lord has been bringing some new ideas and opportunities into my life while also planting some seed of unrest in some existing areas of my life. this last year, or more actually, i have been pulling a bit of a "jacob" (gen 32:24-26) and wrestling with trying to force Him to bless me. my struggle has been decidedly less successful. i've reached a point of absolute fatigue; i am so very tired of struggling to be fruitful and serve the Lord well in ways which i am not gifted and failing. though i believe the Lord has worked through me during this time, it has not been a restful and joyful experience. this is not how to serve the Lord well.
the root of this struggle lay between my own natural abilities and shortcomings and those i desire to have, which seems to be a common struggle for me. i am a decidedly undisciplined and disorganized creature with a deeply rooted desire to be organized and efficient. details strangle me. planning an event is like swimming across a swiftly moving river with one arm bound. yet for some reason i am driven to take on the planning various events. this results in a state of unrest and stress as i try to force myself to be one who can handle details but fail to do so. to this point, being in leadership at my church in any capacity has, for me, has meant that ideas for ministry (meetings, events, etc) come to my mind, sometimes from God and sometimes not, and i struggle to bring them to pass. my success rate is probably about 30 percent.
i do not think this means that i have failed as a minister. i simply think that the place wherein i have always believe ministry resided, namely the planning and execution of events, is not a place that the Lord has placed me personally. as i said before, details tend to overwhelm me, i am happiest when my life is uniformly simple. i hate clutter, i do not truly enjoy decorating, and i do not like tight schedules; i even tend to dress in neutral colors. oh but i love people! i love to meet new people; i love hearing their stories. i also love to read and write. anytime spend reading or studying feels like an indulgence, i always feel a little guilty doing it. yet in the midst of this struggle, God seems to be urging me to test Him and see if He did not design me the way that i am for a real purpose. He did not give me an answer, He is simply giving me permission to ask why i am the way that i am and see what He has for me outside of the life i have planned to date.
despite my disorganized nature, i am a great list person. this simply means that my desk is littered with post-its and other scraps of paper listing the things i need to do. generally the same things appear on several lists as the days continue to pass without accomplishing any of the allotted tasks.
so of course, as soon as the idea of changing the way i approach not only ministry but my life (or perhaps the two should be synonymous) i decided to make a list. this list would contain those things about which i am passionate, those causes which are important to me, as well as the seemingly unimportant things i simply enjoy doing. it would also contain the gifts that the Lord has given me which are, in truth, the same as those things which i enjoy doing. equally important, it would contain the things which i do not do well, and those things i despise doing (although not all of those things are avoidable). silly as i believe my lists to be, i went ahead and made the list.
causes i believe are important:
--advocacy and ministry to children/teenagers
--preaching Jesus' grace and love to those who have been wounded (especially by the church)
things i love to do
--play/listen to music
--be outside in warm weather
things i do not do well
--plan (fundraisers, meetings, events)
--coordinate with others on projects
things i hate to do
i was saddened to realize instantly that the Lord has not made me a leader, at least yet. i've always wanted to be a leader and have eagerly sought leadership roles in the past. i was only able to admit recently that i never enjoyed the role. leadership involves taking responsibility not only for a particular task but for the people whom you are leading. God would not have me take responsibility for a group of people and then fail them. it would sadden Him and crush me. i am still making peace with this revelation.
swiftly on the heels of this realization was the firm knowledge that there are still certain organized ministries that i passionately believe are important. God designed his Church to minister through the gifting of multiple people. where you have multifaceted ministry, and multiple gifts in operation some kind of organization is needed to "lubricate the machine," as it were. so i do not feel free to abandon these ministries completely though i am not gifted to plan, organize or lead them. herein lays a tension that can only be relieved by God's intervention. i have to trust that somehow God is going to bring others alongside who are also passionate about these same issues who ARE gifted in the ways i am not.
so the question is then, what do i do in the mean time? the first and most important answer is pray. equally important, i must wait on Him. but waiting does not mean being idle. so, until the Lord brings into my life an opportunity to operate within my gifts in the areas which are now outside of my reach, i operate to the best of HIS ability within my gifts.
on sunday the Lord put on my heart the need to spend this week truly devoted to seeking Him. specifically i am seeking where i need to trim down and simplify my life and which areas of ministry and personal growth the Lord would have me pursue now. i have some decisions to make about some upcoming opportunities and am seeking wisdom in these areas as well. monday was not a great success but, "His mercies are new every morning."
even as i say this, i can think of 3 videos which i want to complete by this saturday as well as several phone calls (the product of months of procrastination). i'm reminded of all the projects around my house that need to be done as well. God puts to me the question, what are you willing to sacrifice to hear from me? i have been willing, until now, to put off my responsibilities for no particularly good reason so why not put them off for a truly good reason. so i am stepping out in faith, trusting that God is going to give me the efficiency and grace to accomplish those tasks He things are important, that those which are not, well they were just dust and ashes anyway.