wrestling with God and ministry…

Posted: January 16, 2008 in ministry, serving others

Today, I’m going to ask you who read this to pray for me in a specific way.

As of today, it’s been approximately 7 years and 7 months since I last served in full time ministry. I’ve prayed often – and more so recently – asking God if a return to full time ministry might ever be a part of my future. Given the events that necessitated my exit the first time, I’m just not sure if that’s going to be possible, at least not for a few more years. Who knows.

When I was 17, I felt a true calling from God to serve in ministry. I founded the first FCA at my high school. I went to a christian college, graduated with a degree in Bible and ministry, and was doing as my work what I thought I was going to do for the rest of my life. But, despite my eventual fallout, the way I thought of ministry and how I viewed “success” were way off base. I felt relatively “successful” in ministry at a young age because I had a lot of connections with ministry people and ministry stuff. By age 20 I was traveling each January to lead seminars at an annual youth workers convention. I won an award my senior year of college as the “top ministry student” in the graduating class. I was comfortable in front of people, leading worship or speaking. I was getting calls from ministers at other churches inviting me to come and speak to their groups or go on their retreats as a special guest.

But, really, those things were all pretty much crap. My heart wasn’t in the right place. The way I viewed helping people was wrong. I wasn’t connecting with people in my own church. I wasn’t building lasting relationships. I wasn’t serving the community and helping those in need. I wasn’t leading people to Christ by befriending them and showing them His love, but by doing things I thought was cool or fun and hoping those things were somehow reflecting Jesus to others.

Even now, I struggle with those kinds of things. I’m still concerned about numbers, and image, “being relevant” and almost dumbing Jesus down in a way that allows me to live with less discipline and conviction.

And in spite of all that, I really miss the calling of ministry. As time goes by, the work I do each day to make a living seems less and less fulfilling, and I yearn more for the opportunity to serve God again in a full time capacity. I don’t know if this will happen. If God opens a path in some way, I don’t know if it would be in the local church. Maybe it could be with a charity or other service organization. Maybe I continue the work I’m doing now and pray more for consistent opportunities to serve in the evenings and on weekends, either with my church or with other area ministries.

I’m still praying these things out. Even if God said, “Yes, go for it”, I’m not even sure where my area of desire is. Sometimes I wonder if I’m even praying these things in vain. My sin was great and is a difficult thing for most people to forgive. I understand that. I understand that I would be held highly accountable, and that in the human realm, my slate will likely never be wiped clean.

So, as I stated at the beginning, I’m asking you to pray for me. I need to wrestle with God on this and see if there’s any answers He might have, one way or another. I’m very thankful for you who read this. Feel free to comment – anonymously even – if you have any thoughts or suggestions. And may God be for the Packers and against the Patriots in the NFL playoffs. Amen.

  1. x-ray chick says:

    If it is really God calling you into ministry, there will be no stopping it. I suggest isolating yourself and spending time with Him. He will answer in His own time. In the meantime, do all the things you need to do, connect with God intimately, connect with people at your church and serve others when possible. Also make sure your finances match your heart.

  2. x-ray chick says:

    Oh yeah, and I will pray for you as well.

  3. jason says:

    thanks, i appreciate your thoughts. and i agree, if He wants it, it will happen.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Have you done the hard work of recovery? In your previous posts you talk about some of the consequences you faced, but most of those sounded imposed by some legal or other authority. Have you let God into the process to clean out all the gunk? If you have, then if He has plans for you to pursue ministry, He’ll find a way to make it possible. Don’t try to short circuit the process– be obedient, be humble and be patient. He is really good at what He does!!! Prayerfully…

  5. jason says:

    thank you anonymous. i’m really grateful for your honesty.

    to an extent, it seems i may never be loosed from the legal consequences. similarly, i feel as if God will forever be involved in cleaning out the sin in me…and not just concerning the sin in question. i struggle internally with the belief that i may never be good enough, pure enough, or spiritual enough to be one called upon to serve.

    thanks again though…and i will strive to be obedient, humble, and patient.

  6. Perky says:

    I have no great words of wisdom. I only know I hear God best when I am in the word and on my knees. You are prayed for, you and your family. What does Erin think about all of this?

  7. rodney@campbellsvillechristianchurch.com says:

    Jason, I’ve been thinking about this for a couple days and I can’t say that I know the answer. I know that the call of God to ministry is a call that a person can’t shake no matter how much they try. As you’ve expressed, there are consequences to our actions but God has used people who are more messed up and unqualified than you or I and led them to do great and mighty things. My initial thinking is that you are probably more ready for ministry than ministry is ready for you in the church setting. Some things will haunt us for a long time, but you know, God has been known to open doors that we’d never though possible. I know that you have, through your struggle, a testimony of God’s grace and redemption that many cannot understand. I guess that goes to show that Romans 8:28 wasn’t kidding. He really can work all things, no matter how unusable we might think we are, for His good. You have our prayers for wisdom and guidance. I also echo perky in their concern of Erin’s input. Ministry in any form (church or parachurch) impacts family in a huge way. We love ya and know God will use you in great ways whether that’s at a screen printing company or in a pulpit.

  8. jason says:

    i’m so thankful for everyone’s input. i pretty much agree with what everyone has said, both in encouragement and in concern. i’m also thankful to have a church where i can serve and be useful as a lay person. for a long time, i wondered if that would even be possible.

    thanks again, friends.

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