Losing Traction in Ministry

Ministry / Monday, June 26th, 2017

My farm girl’s imagination is in full swing these days and I could not love it more! Every day is an adventure when a park bench is suddenly a school bus and her bathtub is a sailboat on the open sea.

I particularly love the conversations she has with her imaginary friends and occasionally, Jesus. Yesterday, she was chatting away in her room, while I was putting away clothes. I paused by her door to hear what she was dreaming up:

J: Um…Jesus? I have to tell you sumfing. Um… I can’t be you leader any more.

J (as Jesus): But why?

J: ‘cause, ‘cause…’cause I’m broken.

I was momentarily stunned. That seemed like a pretty heavy conversation between her and Jesus. Unfortunately, by the time I asked her about it, her little toddler mind had long since flittered off to something else and there was no going back.

After some fine mommy-detective work, I realized she had taken this conversation from an episode of Doc McStuffins. The current episode on repeat featured a broken Triceratops Train. The engine of the train had lost its traction and could no longer roll. She sadly told her two dino-cart friends she was too broken to lead them.

So, that made a little more sense!

Even so, the conversation struck me for more personal reasons. For the past few months, I have been struggling with my role as Women’s Ministry Team Leader. Busy with a new baby, I have felt like a failure much of the time, unable to connect with the women in my church the way I wanted, not having time to encourage my team in the way they deserved, having no vision to bring to the table for the coming year.

Recently, my time with the Lord has sounded a lot like Julianne’s conversation: “Um, Jesus? I have to tell you something. I don’t think I can lead this ministry anymore. I’m tired, discouraged, and uninspired. I’ve lost traction.”

This is not uncommon in ministry, or really in any leadership position. We all drift into still waters at one time or another, with no wind to fill our sails and propel us forward. The longer we sit, the longer we wonder if we will ever move forward again. Regaining traction requires taking small steps on solid ground. It means focusing on what we know rather than how we feel.

I know there are women around me to whom I can talk to about my feelings. These women are safe, encouraging, and will pray for me. Time and time again, I can trust my friends to point me back to Christ and what we have seen Him do through His ministry at our church.  The worst thing you can do in an emotional slump is to keep it all inside. Share the burden with a trusted friend; it will let some light in. (Ecclesiastes 4:9-10)

I know this is HIS ministry, not mine. When I begin feeling apathetic in ministry it is often because I have taken on too much. Physically, I am not delegating tasks to my team. Emotionally I am bearing burdens that are not mine to bear. Spiritually, I am believing it’s up to me to make the ministry a success. No lie could be more toxic to a ministry leader; it’s our job to plant and water- it’s the Lord’s job to grow. (1 Corinthians 3:6)

I know to acknowledge and confess any sin that may be clouding my vision. While this is a distinctly less fun activity than getting coffee with my girls, it is never the less a crucial part of getting your ministry mojo back. In Galatians 5:7, Paul asks, “You were running so well! Who prevented you from obeying the truth?” In my case, pride had tripped me up. Humbling myself before the Lord, confessing my sin, and thanking him for the blessing of serving even one of His people through ministry helped unblocked my vision and got me running again.

I know He has called me to this work. At the heart of all this angst was the question of whether the Lord was still calling me to serve as Women’s Team Leader. I wondered if, with two small children, this was not the right time for ministry. He had also placed other desires on my heart, like writing, and I wondered if I should say ‘no’ to ministry so I could say a fuller ‘yes’ to writing. These were legitimate questions, and certainly there are times God calls us out of one season and into another. However, walking through the three steps above it became clear that the calling had not changed, it had simply been out of alignment.

The Triceratops Train engine was quickly fixed thanks to Doc Mcstuffins. With new rubber tubing she was ready to lead her Dino-cart friends once again. Not to tie too neat a bow on what can be a messy process, but often we’re tempted to think we are too broken to be of any use, when all we need is some traction. Something to get us moving forward again.

We all get tired. After all, we’re just a heap of dust. But God saw fit to animate us with His very breath to do the good works which He prepared for us ahead of time (Ephesians 2:10).  If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the job the Lord has placed before you, I encourage you evaluate your situation closely. Perhaps, like me, you’ll see it’s just a temporary loss of traction rather than a permanent loss of purpose.

What has helped you gain traction after a slump? Share in the comments below!

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