Wow, what a summer! That’s what our students say. Wow, what a long summer! This is what I say. And with every year it seems to get longer.
It is not that I don’t enjoy it because I do. But quite honestly it is the reason many don’t last in youth ministry. And the same is true for different seasons in other ministries as well. I wanted to spend a few minutes sharing my heart as the summer draw to a close. Not what is on my heart per say, but rather the condition of my heart. There is a song we sing from time to time, it says…
My eyes are dry, my faith is old
My heart is hard, my prayers are cold
And I know how I ought to be
Alive to You and dead to me
If I am completely honest, this is how I feel at the end of every summer. So why is it that the summer takes such a toll on me. The bottom line is this, you can only pour out so much of yourself without being filled back up. It is so easy to fall into the trap in ministry of “doing ministry”. Summers are full, in fact they are jam packed. Lots going on, lots of students who need attention, lot of being out of town, a lot of late nights, a lot of prep work to be done. And then there are the responsibilities at home; the relationship with your spouse, your kids, helping around the house. The question then comes, if your pouring yourself out in all different directions, then who is pouring into you? If I am honest, the answer for me is no one. During the summer, I go into one of two modes. There is ministry mode and there is family mode.
You could think of it like this. You work and work at building up your lung capacity for an extended period of time and then you hold your breath as long as you possibly can and then… you pass out. I feel it is where I am at the end of every summer. I will admit I am getting better at one thing, masking the condition of my heart.
I guess you could some up my heart condition like this, I have gotten much better at “doing” than “being”. I have gotten better at doing ministry, and being a minister than I have at simply resting in God’s presence. So why share this? There are a several of reasons.
- I have a feeling I am not alone. Not alone as far as other ministers go and not alone with the people I minister to.
- To recognize the problem is the first step in working toward a solution.
- Openness about our condition should be the norm in church. People are so afraid of what others will think, to the point it completely nullifies the openness we are to share with one another. And I admit I am even nervous posting this, because we never talk openly about it in our churches, especially those in ministry.
- So that you can pray for me in my journey.
So where do I go from here? Back to abiding in the one who gives life and resurrects from the dead; significant time in the word, in prayer, listening to the loving voice of our God.
Paul prayed this for the church in Ephesus, but this is my prayer today for me and anyone else who is or has been where I am…
14 For this reason I kneel before the Father, 15 from whom his whole family in heaven and on earth derives its name. 16 I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge–that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. 20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever! Amen. Ephesians 3:14-1 NIV
So where are you in your journey?