A few years ago, my life was defined a bit differently. At least in my own heart, I was defining my life differently. I think that’s a natural part of the journey. Growing, changing, and being made new by the sanctifying grace of Jesus.
It’s a natural part of growth for so many of us. Really. I can see something now that I couldn’t see then. I can see how I was defining my life.
I can see how I had wrongly tied my own identity and even self-worth to my service to God. (I cringe to admit that.)
It wasn’t just that I was busy. It wasn’t simply that my calendar was filled with ministry and missions. It wasn’t all bad at all. In fact, it was mostly good.
My life was mostly good, for me and for many others.
My days were full of loving. Motherhood, ministry, missions, marriage, and even a few things that didn’t begin with the letter M consumed my minutes and hours. It blossomed from a sincere and innocent desire to love.
As my love for Jesus continued to grow, I wanted the overflow of my life to be about making Him known. And really? None of that is bad. In fact, it is good. It truly blessed me. I think I was a blessing to others. My children were learning and growing alongside me. My husband was proud of me. Eventually, I even decided to begin a blog! (See? You are a vital part of this story, as well.)
In fact, it is hard to see a problem here. Right? My heart was in the right place. Right?
I thought so.
I thought my heart was in the right place. I really, truly did. And a part of my heart was spot on.
I was unable to see the error in my heart until I stepped back from a few ministries and became quiet. My life became much quieter for a season. In the deep season of quiet, I could see things that I couldn’t see in the midst of the pouring out.
When I stopped to fill my own pitcher, I realized a part of my soul had sprung a dangerous leak.
In the quiet, I began to wonder how “they” would accomplish the tasks without me. I began to doubt that this or that would get done correctly or with as much enthusiasm. (I mean, I’m nothing if not enthusiastic…so that part was almost legit. Right?) Could they really love people the way I had loved them? Could they really host that thing as well as I had hosted it? Could she (and she and she and she…several of them, actually) truly care as much as I had cared?
What are these thoughts? Oh, how embarrassingly ugly.
Suddenly, (or perhaps very gradually) I was making something that I had wanted to do for Jesus all about me. When had that happened?! Yuck. Yuck. Yuck. Just ew.
A part of my heart wasn’t in the right place anymore. My intentions had been pure but this pride? When did it sneak in?!
Listen, sisters. I think this is common. I think it’s absolutely natural in the workplace, in ministry roles, and in any leadership role to identify deeply with any mission or role near to our hearts. While this is completely natural and common, I don’t think it clearly imitates the selfless heart of Christ.
In the quiet, I began to see the error in my own heart. I could finally see my own sin and I was absolutely horrified that I had believed the lie. The enemy had allowed me to believe that it was all for my glory? I doubted that anyone else would ever, could ever care or perform or serve in “my roles” quite the way I had.
And when had I forgotten about the glory of God? When has my own service become about anything other than the good of His Kingdom for His glory and by His grace? I had lost sight of His Kingdom.
I couldn’t let that be the last word. The story wouldn’t end like that. No, no, no. Just. No.
Welcome, surrender. If I wanted ministry to be the overflow of love for Jesus, I had to give the glory to Him.
You see, if we are working together for the glory of God? If we are all on the same team, striving to serve the same King? If we long to bring glory to our God who sovereignly appoints us to various roles for various seasons? If this is the case, I should hope the very best for her in His service. I should hope for her (and her and her and her and him and him) to make Him known. This should be my heart.
Hope should always be my heartbeat when I leave any leadership role or any ministry in someone else’s care.
Always hope. Always with the Kingdom of God in mind. Always, always for His glory. Our service has always been by His sovereign grace.
It has never been about us. May it never be.
I had to become less. In the quiet, I surrendered it all to God again. And again. And again. I gave it all to Him until I could see it through eyes for His glory.
If it wasn’t all about me? If I wanted my life to be for His glory? I had to choose. I had to surrender my selfish pride. I had to intentionally choose to be praying for, hoping with, and cheering on the people leading anything I had ever led before. It was all God’s. It all belonged to Him.
My desire to love others had begun with my love for Him. My hope for these ministries would be for His Kingdom. I would repent from the pride and any hurt I was holding in my own heart. I would turn from my arrogance. I would abandon the self-righteousness. After all, pride was foolish and embarrassing. I was incredibly glad to see it go.
My heart would be focused on His Kingdom. That would be the final word.
You see, at some point, I suppose I felt a sense of pride in serving well. This is completely natural. Sin is natural because it is our very nature. But Jesus came to overcome my sinful flesh and I don’t have to live with a heart full of pride in my own do-gooding. And neither do you.
Friend, I know that you never really wanted it to be about you. What is the ultimate goal of your life? Yes. I see you there thinking it too.
We are the women who want to bring Him glory.
And that? That means longing for the best for His Kingdom. That means that we cheer her on to love well. This means we hope that others will feel the goodness of God through her embrace and her ministry. This means we want her to do this thing (whatever it may be) really well. We want her to run the race and to spread the fire with great passion for Jesus and for others. We want ministries to flourish and for people to thrive. We want to see chains broken. We want to see the lonely invited in. We want to see those living in shame renewed by a life of grace in Jesus.
We want to see Jesus made known and illuminated for all to see whether or not we are the ones shining the light.
When she is in the community, the church, or the world shining brightly, we will light a candle at home for her. We will watch and pray when she is in the trenches of ministry.
For it isn’t about her. And it isn’t about us. It is about Jesus.
I am thankful for the way God is redefining my life. This journey in the quiet has been every bit as crucial as the journey of busy work. The quiet has allowed me to see my own personal struggle with sin. God is changing me and teaching me. And this is sanctification. This is where I lay the pride down. Even in the quiet, I am growing to love Him more.
May it be so for you, as well. May you learn to love Him even more.
For His glory, by His grace, and for His Kingdom–Light a candle and hope for her. Carry her with prayer.
From my heart to yours & with my own candle flickering in the quiet,