A Sacred Privilege (Pt. III)
In my last post, I talked about the vital importance of always pointing our families to Jesus. Too often today I see families suffering because one or both spouses/parents are disturbingly unbalanced in the area of family & ministry – when in actuality, the fundamental point we need to understand is: our families are our ministry.
Prioritizing my family above all other ministry has become much more personal to me after I was able to spend some voluntary time away from nearly all corporate ministry (ministry within a church setting) from 2009-2012. During that time, I committed myself to refocusing my attention onto my family and my calling; being more and doing less. As uncomfortable and foreign that season had been at times, the Lord used it greatly in my life (and continues to do so). On the outside, everything appeared to be normal. On the inside, however, my heart was going through a significant razing and rebuilding. This experience gave me the opportunity to reaffix my attention firmly on areas of my life that required much greater surrender and maturing.
In the midst of a particularly heavy time of doubt about stepping back from ministry, I was reminded by my pastor that the best way for me to serve the Body of Christ was to serve my family first – that I would be doing the Body of Christ a great service by making that my priority. Upon hearing this, I felt heavy burdens I was carrying around begin to fall off. I could breathe a little easier. Although my mind already knew what he said was true, hearing it again at a time when my heart was fallow reinforced this truth for me in a fresh & very powerful way. I knew that by following this convenient reminder to it’s end meant (at least for me) that I needed to lay down everything that I was identified with (Jacob’s Well, worship leading, song writing, composing, etc). It’s was a personally painful and admittedly a reluctant but welcomed process that I still believe was well worth the time I was away from a stage, microphone, instrument or any other ministry related endeavor I could have been involved with.
IT'S ABOUT PREPARATION; NOT PUNISHMENT
For those who may have wondered where Jacob’s Well disappeared to, now you know. I chose to lay down my instruments and not engage in any major public ministry role while God did whatever was necessary to work and seed the fallow ground of my heart. Though I didn’t know when that season would be complete for me, what I did know was this: It wasn’t about punishment. It was (and still is) about preparation. God put his finger on very specific areas of my personal & public life that he wanted me to be laser focused on. One of those areas was music ministry and how I might be able to encourage other people who are feeling called to this wonderfully sacred privilege. I may not be touring or standing on a stage as much as I once was, but I still have a unique perspective that provides me an opportunity to share my heart and teach from what I have learned from over 20 years as a worship leader.
Maybe you are a pastor or ministry leader and your heart has become hard or you have purposefully or inadvertently placed “ministry” above your first ministry (your family). Perhaps you are following a plan from the latest church growth book spelling out all the ways you can see real “success” in your church – all while your family is quietly suffering at home. Or maybe you are simply on cruise control because stress has taken such a toll on you that you can no longer sense or hear the leading of the Holy Spirit. Whatever the situation might be for you, let me leave you with the same convenient words that my pastor spoke to me:
The best way for you to serve the body of Christ is to serve your family first. You will be doing the Church a great service by making this your first priority.
If you are striving to maintain things under your own strength, I can tell you today with 100% surety that this is not what the Lord wants for you. Take some time to get alone with the Lord and ask him for forgiveness for forcefully leading when you should be humbly following – and then redirect and settle your affections upon Jesus once again. He is full of grace, mercy and incredible love for you!