During these months, I started to take solace in this quote: “I can’t apologize about where God is calling me.” I just didn’t know where God was calling me.
That seems direct and to the point. But the issue is also much larger. If I place all hope in myself, I am not allowing space for God to move. Perhaps God is saying that my journey here is over and is placing a call on someone else’s life to carry the baton. In my overfunctioning, my blinders were keeping me focused straight ahead, running forward with everything I had in me.
I eventually left and moved onto another ministry position. My “official” reasons were many, and made much sense. Looking back, I realize that burnout was probably the biggest reason, although I don’t know that I was aware of it at the time. I was only part-time. Why did I think I could do all of that, without even so much as a weekend vacation? Without some sort of stress-reliever.
My new position was temporary, and I often wondered if I should have stayed in that first church and tried to push through. I wondered when I left if that church would survive — that was the overfunctioning talking.
With space between that time and now, I see that the church has moved ahead, and others became empowered when I stepped aside.
A former student in the youth ministry took the reigns of the youth ministry for a season. Talks about the new building moved ahead. That video projection ended up in the Sanctuary. New families began attending the church. Another couple stepped up to lead the college-age/stage ministry.
I thank God for my time there. I learned so much, and as I moved into a new ministry position, I knew myself better and could position myself to not fall into the same traps. I knew my boundaries of time, of communication, of needing a personal day off.
Overfunctioning? I’m done with it! I hope I never find myself thinking that the future of the church I work in is based only on the success of the ministries I oversee. I have to create that space between myself and my job, differentiating my sense of self from my work. When a day is good, I can celebrate. But when a day is bad, I need to separate myself from the situation.
And I learned about conflict and anxiety. The deacons who cried “foul” were simply anxious. The problem was not me, and I see that now. But I did not have the experience or the maturity then to know that. I laugh at that story now. If I keep living stories like that, I might have to write a book!
God is working in the midst of what I do. And God is working in the midst of what I don’t do. As long as I am in tune with God’s call for my life, then the rest will fall into place. Sometimes that might include leaving a ministry position. Other times it will mean staying even when it hurts. But God provides, and that’s all that really matters.
This article originally appeared at The Journal of Student Ministries. [website now defunct]