On Ministry and Letting Go
I felt the cold tile of the bathroom wall against my forehead and the sound of worship music echoing against the walls. I just told our pastor that I wanted to take a break from leading in the young adult ministry that I loved so much.
There was no reason other than the restless feeling that seemed to have settled in my bones. It felt like a choppy ocean. I’ve now learned to recognize that feeling – that lack of peace – as God saying “it’s time to move.”
I didn’t understand why, though. Why would He want me to move on from doing His work?
During that year of ministry, I had learned so much about myself and about how God uses us. I learned that I was built to bring people together and tie them close. There was so much joy in watching complete strangers become friends. In watching people who were practicing their faith alone find a place to do it together.
I felt in so many ways that I had been built for this. So, why couldn’t I shake the feeling that it was time to let it go?
Thoughts raced as I leaned against the wall in the bathroom. I asked God why He would ask me to stop doing something I love so much – something that was doing His work! I asked him why he would want me to let go of my ministry.
In that moment, I felt his answer like a whisper on the wind.
“It’s not your ministry. It’s mine – and I have more for you.”
I never felt so close or so very loved by God in the quiet moments that followed.
After letting go of ministry and giving it back to God, I came to understand that God was less interested in my work and more interested in me. It became clear that He just wanted my heart, mind and soul.
I could not shake the complete sense of love that God had for me – a love that would not allow me to continue doing His work if it meant it was creating a separation between us.
It was overwhelming and seemed too good to be true. How could God just love me for me? It seemed unfathomable. Even now, that time has become a touchstone in my life. A reminder that God is less interested in what I’m doing for Him and more interested in who I am becoming in Him.
The message we so often receive in church is “do, do, do…” that it felt strange to hear a small voice in my heart say “please, stop. I need you to be still. I need you to be with me right now. I don’t need you to work. I need you to be.”
I began to realize that I may have grown in many ways during ministry, but my relationship with God had become strained. I started relying on my own efforts and strengths – started performing instead of being. Started finding my identity in what I did instead of who I was in Christ.
I came to understand that I may have given up ministry at the time, but I got something better instead – a deeper relationship with a God who loves me.
It is unfathomable for us to believe that God loves us for us. That he just wants to be in relationship with us. Why is that so hard to believe?
We often talk about Jesus dying for our sins, so that we can be forgiven – but we miss the before and after. We miss that God loved us so much that he sent his only son to die for us that whosoever believes in him will have everlasting life.
We miss the part about His great love for us – a love that brings everlasting life through our relationship with God. We miss that Jesus’ death was not just an act of mercy and grace, but a radical act of reconciliation.
His death not only introduced forgiveness of sins once and for all, but also the introduction of God’s Holy Spirit in us. Where there was once separation – there was now relationship.
Forgiveness is not the end of the story – it is just the beginning. And, where the Bible ends, our life in Christ begins.
There is something about love and experiencing it in its truest form that melts us. Humbles us. And brings us face to face with how very little we can control.
No wonder God’s love for us is supposed to bring us to our knees.
So, this is my plea to you:
Stop doing. Stop hustling. Stop trying to earn the love of God and those around you.
Be still – and listen. Seek God. Ask him questions. See what he says.
You may just be overwhelmed by the love that has been waiting for you.
“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?... No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.
For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:35, 37-39)