When Did Your Call Become Punching A Clock?
When did your ministry vocation become your nine-to-five?
When did your calling become nothing more than punching a clock?
Do you remember?
Was there a specific moment when your joy took a direct hit?
I can remember two of these moments.
I remember the first time the curtain was pulled back and my idealistic vision of the Church pretty much evaporated. It was the first time I realized the Church was made up of people. Good people, yes. People who were mostly well meaning. But people who didn't see church the way I saw church. Sinful people. (Sinners, just like me.) People with agendas. I remember my first exposure to it. I remember feeling hurt and confused and betrayed.
And I'll never forget the first time my desire to do ministry ran headlong into the giant cinderblock-wall of terrible leadership. I remember the heated phone conversation in the living room of our little rental house. I remember yelling. And I remember quitting . . . still to this day the only thing I've ever truly quit in my adult life. I remember the conversations with my wife and mother where I vowed to never work in the ministry again . . . [Four ministry gigs later, I am thankful for God's sense of humor at my immaturity. :)]
Maybe it wasn’t a specific moment for you. Maybe it was a gradual eroding of your desire. Maybe it took years for “I can't believe I get to do this every day” to slowly slip into “Maybe I’ll hold on a few more years.”
Was it the years of being the low man on the totem-pole simply because you were called to minister to teenagers? Was it one too many “full time” weeks for part time pay? Too many run-ins with parents? With senior leadership? Too many seemingly apathetic teenagers?
Or maybe your joy wasn’t eroded by any of these negative, outward influences. Maybe your passion for your calling was eroded from the inside. Maybe your personal relationship with Christ has become a vocational relationship with Christ. Maybe you’ve forgotten how to meet God in the Bible when you’re not thinking of your lesson prep, or your next talk, or the devotion you lead for FCA, or a blog article, or the theme for your next retreat, or . . .
Whatever it is that has made your call to ministry drudgery instead of devotion, know this: you’re not alone . . . and you don’t have to stay where you are.
You can, in the pleading words of David in Psalm 51, have the joy of your salvation restored. You can rediscover your passion for your calling. It’s not easy. And it will take time. But it starts with two foundational truths . . .
You have to do the mental and spiritual work that only you can do, to strip away all that has been added to how you’ve come to engage with God. You have to focus on finding Christ in the pages of the Bible for no other reason than to get to know Him again, with fresh eyes. It’s about remaining, abiding, and hiding in Christ. You have to do what it takes to rekindle an intimate closeness with Him. When we abandon this, every other aspect of our spiritual lives gets knocked out of whack. Work to simplify your engagements with God.
You have to clarify your calling. Let me help: You aren’t the leader of a self-improvement program, but a steward of the Movement. God has appointed you to be an ambassador of His Gospel, a messenger carrying the truth of the Kingdom to a world who needs it more than they even know. It’s easy to lose the joy of our call when our ministry has become nothing more than trying to convince students to be good or nice people. But when we remember that we’re tasked with both revealing God to students and ushering them to press their lives up against Him, it’s impossible to see our calling as punching the clock.
Don’t ever forget that you’re not where you are by accident. No matter what you’ve put in the way of your calling, or what you’ve allowed others to put in the way, it’s not un-fixable.
You can re-discover the joy of your calling. And you can start today.