I have recently done a new thing. I don’t say that in a boastful way because doing new things is a little daunting for me. Is it hard for you to step out of your comfort zone and do new things? I, for sure, am a reluctant writer. I don’t really like putting myself out there. My husband and I have been in ministry 22 years and throughout our ministry experiences I have tended to shrink back at times and stopped walking forward in painful experiences.
I actually wrote a book about this, almost five years ago, called Perfectly Weak. After going through several experiences of being hurt in ministry, I really felt like giving up. I knew I was called, but I was too wounded, too disappointed and too scared to want to continue. I actually didn’t quit ministry (mostly because my husband just kept on trucking along and I followed), but I did recoil in fear and hide. I still went through all the motions, still showed up, but definitely wasn’t fulfilling all that God had for me to do.
This is why I love Bridgette’s heart for this ministry. God has led me through highs and lows in ministry--as I know He has led you through, as well. And my heartbeat in writing Perfectly Weak was to minister to other hurting, scared and disappointed ministry wives. When I was arguing with God about writing the book (yes, I argue with God and no, I never win), He told me that there are so many other people out there that feel the same things I have felt in ministry but they don’t talk about it because of shame.
I have learned there is no shame in sharing your story of weakness when it points to God’s strength lifting you up out of the pit, and coming through for you.
In addition to writing the book, the new thing I have done this past fall, is to write a four-week book study to complement Perfectly Weak. The book study does not repeat the entire book but it uses the principles in the book to take the reader to the next step of saying YES to God. 'Yes' in the midst of setbacks, recent pain, or very difficult circumstances. That may sound weird, as ministry wives, to need to say 'yes' to God, but that can actually be hard to do sometimes when you feel that God has let you down. He hasn’t let us down, nor will He ever, but I bet many of us have felt that way.
We know feelings are not the truth of God’s Word, but the enemy can use those feelings of loneliness, being let down, and discouragement to cause us to slowly step back and stop saying 'yes' to God. I’m sure people think it’s so easy for ministers to walk in obedience, but it is very hard to purposefully and consistently say 'yes' to God and cooperate with the Holy Spirit. Anybody ever not want to cooperate with the Holy Spirit?
One New Year's Day, I was praying about what God wanted me to do in the next year and He said, “I would like you to cooperate with the Holy Spirit.” I was actually surprised, thinking, “UM, of course I am cooperating with you, God. I do all ‘the things’ (fill in the blank with all you do too) FOR YOU.” And I was right—I was doing all the big things. But God gently pointed out that, although I was cooperating with the big things in my life, I was ignoring those little nudges of the Holy Spirit. I was ignoring things that were hard for me, or I didn’t like to do, or that were a little risky for me. I would think things like -- What would people think? What if people don’t like that? What if I am not good at that? So, I asked Him to show me when I was not cooperating—and HE DID! He showed me moments when He was nudging me to talk to that person at church that I was avoiding, or do something out of my comfort zone.
One of the things I wasn’t cooperating with Holy Spirit about was writing the book study. As I was telling Him 'no', God pretty much forced me to read the book I had written several years go to show me how I was walking in lack again, saying 'no' in some areas again — leaning on my weaknesses again in some areas. We all have times we default to self. When we are busy, overwhelmed, hurting, we tend to shrink inward and self protect.
I find it interesting that God asked me to write this book study while I still feel insecure and reluctant. Stepping out and saying 'yes' to God is hard. If it was easy, everyone would be fulfilling their purpose for God and there would be no worry, no fear, no what if's. Walking in His strength despite your weakness is scary, but it's part of your story you do not want to miss.
Walking in His strength despite your weakness is scary, but it's part of your story you do not want to miss.
As you can guess, I told God 'no' a couple times to writing this study to go along with the book, but He kept coming back to ask again, for the same reason I wrote the book.
The world, your church, your family, your friends, your neighbors need YOU. We get bogged down and forget that we can rise up and change this world. I want to encourage you to say 'yes' to what God is asking of you. It may be a hundred tiny yes’s everyday related to the people around you that you can minister to, or it may be one big yes. BUT GOD needs you to move.
He doesn’t want you to walk in lack, saying. “I can’t, I don’t have enough time, gifts, ideas, I’m not good at that, those people won’t like it, they don’t need me.” I hear every single one of those lies daily. You know why? Because Satan doesn’t want me to succeed. He doesn’t want you to walk in strength. Because when we do, HE LOSES every time.
So I am saying 'YES' with you. If you already are saying 'yes', there’s always a next step. There’s always something we face that is challenging. Purpose doesn’t have an age limit. There are always more yes’s to say.
You are so special to God and to the people around you. Sometimes when we face criticism and disappointments, we stop believing how big our purpose is and how valuable we are to our Father. He believes in you and has given you the great honor to bring His love to others and glory to His name. In the midst of all you may be going through, remember we just celebrated that Emmanuel—God with us, is with you. He is walking with you each step of the way, connected to you, and speaking to you at every turn. You are supernaturally empowered to all that God has called you to do with peace, joy, grace and strength.
I am praying with you that you can say 'YES' with me in 2020 to that next step God is calling you into.
Scary New Things is Entry ONE in Sanctuary's blog series, Perfectly Weak. What scary new thing is God asking of you right now or for the coming year? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below! And come back next week for Entry TWO from ministry wife and author Casey Graves.
Casey Graves is a wife, momma to two girls, and co-pastor/planter of Foundations Church in Tulsa, Oklahoma. She enjoys a good cup of coffee with a friend or a family date day when she finds some spare time. What draws her to Sanctuary is her desire to truly share her vulnerabilities and struggles to help others dealing with similar wounds and insecurities that come with ministry. Casey recently published her first book, Perfectly Weak, now available at Amazon.