Wednesday, November 16, 2011


Maybe--just maybe--it's time to not be serving where you're serving.

When I was 22, I got a call saying that a few of the pastors at my church wanted to meet with me. I was a scandal-free kind of girl and didn't have any big skeletons in my closet, so I wasn't too worried--but I was a little curious as to what they had to say.

When I arrived for the meeting that day, Pastor Ken and Pastor Tom sat across from me and spoke some hard-to-hear, but important, words:

"Thea," they started, "you're involved in a lot of areas here. And we fear for you the potential of burnout. If you keep at the pace you're going, you're liable to begin to dread or resent serving--and ministry in general."

It was true--I
was all over the place. I led worship, helped with the children's choir, participated in the adult choir, was on the ministry team for the college group, and was a leader in the high school group.

"We want you to take a month off. From
everything," they continued. No serving anywhere. Just take this time to pray about where God wants you. Consider where you're really excited to serve. Then come back to that. If it's to all 5 ministries, great. But if it's just to one, then come back to the one and serve with all your heart."

I won't lie, there was a part of me that felt a bit hurt.
Why don't they want my service? I wondered. But the more I thought and prayed about it, the more I realized they were giving me a gift in encouraging me to evaluate where I was serving. WHY was I serving? Was I passionate about all of those opportunities? Was I gifted to serve well in all of those areas?

That month-long hiatus was tough at first. I felt like I'd go stir-crazy sitting at home on the nights when I used to have somewhere I had to be. But by the end of the month, there was great peace. I knew some things had to go. Almost everything, in fact.

I returned to only one out of the five ministries.

I returned to leading worship--that was it. And you know what? The other 4 ministries didn't fall apart without me. In fact, other people stepped in to spots that I had once occupied, using their God-given gifts and talents to lead and serve. We can assume we're supposed to serve all over the place. But sometimes when that happens, other people who are gifted and equipped to serve won't do so because they see the spots are filled--sometimes by people who might not even be strong in serving in those areas.

My pastors cared about me, and were wise to encourage me to assess my service. And their wisdom remains with me to this day. I don't just jump into every opportunity and assume every spot is mine to fill.

I don't know what it is about having somewhere we have to be that can make us feel needed, nor how having an empty spot in our planners can make us feel empty--but it's very much the case. We really have to be honest when we assess WHY we're serving. Sometimes these things I do for others in the name of ministry have a lot to do with ME and very little to do with YOU.

It was appropriate for me to let go.
Not easy. But appropriate.

Consider the areas in which you're currently serving. Are you passionate about them, or are they obligations to fulfill? Are you actually good at doing what you're doing, or were you basically "voluntold" to sign up? And, most importantly, did you PRAY about committing to those areas in which you're serving before you agreed to do so? And finally, have you possibly spread yourself so thin doing so many different
good things that you have a sinking feeling you're not really doing any of them well?

Sometimes something's gotta go. Be honest. Pray. And then discern what is to stay, and what is to go.

* Check out this GREAT POST from Tentblogger. He speaks to the need to let God prune our service to make it more fruitful. Similar to this post, but written far more eloquently and compellingly! :)


1 comment:

  1. i recall a handful of years ago me with too much on my plate standing with a pastor who asked me to add another thing. i said no. he told me to "pray about it." and right there out loud i said, "God do you want me to..." then i responded to the pastor, "God said 'no.'" by the expression on the pastor's face i knew he didn't like that.

    i've been the person who has done EVERYTHING because honestly i was capable and good at it. i got burnt out. i was under appreciated. and really it was mostly for my gain and not God's glory.

    i do nothing now. like your pastors, God, has me on time-off. it was so uncomfortable at first. it's so easy to get people to like you and want you and need you when you make yourself indispensable. BUT i'm learning to be loved simply for who i am and not what i am. it's a hard lesson. necessary.

    are you in cali? or did that plane already come and go?