I think if we are honest with ourselves many of us have placed idols in our lives at some point or another. We may have not gone to the extreme of melting all our gold down and forming them into the form of a cow(Exodus 32), but if we are honest with ourselves there are things that we lift to the place of God in our lives. It may look different in your life than it does mine, but I have been very guilty of this myself.
A great example would be a few years ago when I was transitioning out of my position in the Chicago area and making the decision to move back home to northern Indiana. I knew I was going to be transitioning out of my position and had been looking for a full-time youth ministry gig. I’m not going to lie to you, I was arrogant during that time and really believed that a church was going to be lucky to hire me. I knew that God had called me into youth ministry, so I had no doubt I would land a great gig soon and be ministering to students in no time.
Little did I know that I would be taking a break from ministry and that it would be the most fruitful time I’ve experienced in a long time. It turned out that I was not able to get into a church full-time and that I would be transitioning into working a full-time retail position. I had no clue the lessons that God was going to teach me through those 3 1/2 years were going to help equip me so much for ministry. I learned so much over those years and am so thankful for God directing me to walk that path.
See in my life, I had placed the “title” or “role” of youth pastor in Gods place. I let my title and my role define who I was in. If I’m honest I would also say that I elevated my position to a higher place of honor than God. I was more concerned with me “being a youth pastor” instead of being a follower of Christ. Instead of teaching out of the overflow of my life I was basing my whole relationship with God on the work that I was doing in ministry. It defined everything I was. I put the ministry before my family, friends, and even God.
When it came time to transition and I didn’t have a solid position nailed down, my world came crashing down. What defined me was quickly gone and I was left feeling empty, alone, and far away from God. I was bitter towards others and even more bitter towards God. I was angry with God that He didn’t provide a position for me. I was angry that I hadn’t landed a new position. It was during that time in my life I experienced so much pain, bitterness, anger, and even depression.
Eventually I realized that it was my heart and my own relationship with God that was the problem. I soon realized that I had a family I needed to restore. I had put my ministry at a higher importance than my family and wasn’t being the husband or father I should have been. I realized that my number one priority had to be my own relationship with God and ministering to my own family before I could ever think about getting back into ministry. It was once I realized this that God started doing a great work in my life and my heart.
At a point about 2 1/2 years into this journey I came to the place where I was ready to serve again. I knew God had placed a call on my life and I wanted to make sure I was being faithful to that call. I finally came to a place in my life where I just wanted to serve in ministry at whatever capacity I could. I started volunteering as a youth leader at our home church. I started living out my own faith and teaching from the overflow of my relationship with God.
It’s at that point that God started opening up doors for me to minister. When I didn’t let my role or my position define me is when God started opening doors for me to be able to serve him more and more effectively. Eventually he opened the door for me to become the youth pastor at my home church, but even then I was hesitant because I didn’t want that role to define me.
I did end up stepping into the role and this time it’s been different. I am protecting my family time more than ever. I am ministering first to my own family. I am concentrating on my own relationship with God and letting that define who I am rather than letting my role define me. So far…so good.
I am writing this to simply tell a little bit of my story and also encourage others. Guard your own heart and guard your family with everything that you have. Never let your role define who you are and never put anything over your relationship with God. No ministry, no person, no role, deserves more honor and more of you than your relationship with God does. For me my “golden calf”was full-time ministry. What is it for you? What could God be pointing out in your own heart? Also, for you volunteers out there. THANK YOU. I truly believe that God honors your role SO MUCH. Don’t think that you have to be a paid full-time position to be effective. Be faithful to the gifts that God has given you and be faithful to those He has called you to.
* Derek Coy blogs at http://derekcoy.blogspot.com, you should check him out.