The following are words I want to share with those who minister, whether you lead a church, a small group, a community ministry, or you simply lavish the love of God on those around you:
It's something we're all aware of it at one time or another, maybe more often than we'd like to admit. We call it many things. We call it burn-out. We call it exhaustion. We call it a spiritual struggle. It's that moment that comes when you're not sure you have any more God to give. And here is, for most of us, where it comes from - -
When God is something you do, you can easily forget He is someone you love.
I've hit this point a few times in various stages of my service. After four years of serving weekly in the sound booth, always worried about coordinating the technical aspects of the service, I woke up one day and realized I couldn't remember the last time I worshiped. I have spoken with worship leaders who can't remember the last time they weren't on stage. Most recently and personally, I got so energized by the work of chaplaincy that somewhere without even thinking about it, I realized I'd convinced myself that I'm with God all day, whether I'm thinking about Him or not, and that for some reason, that passes as a personal relationship.
But I was feeling it. Hard.
What's odd is that you get to a certain point of ministry - and I don't care what it is that you do - where even when you're not doing that, you're thinking about doing that. Or at least, thinking about the mechanics of doing that. When I stopped working in the sound booth, I kept one eye on the new tech every Sunday. Most Sundays, I still do. Because there's a certain part of me that knows what's going on back there and is still orchestrating in my head. When I leave my chaplain work, I'm still thinking about the chaplains that have taken over. I'm thinking about the patients I hope they are following up with. I'm thinking about the families that are likely about to come in. I'm thinking about the work I'm not doing, and I'm still not thinking so much about my relationship with God.
It's kind of a vicious trap, really. The very thing you are doing for God is this thing that you have been created by Him to do. It's in your blood. It energizes you. It strengthens you. It connects you to Him in this way that you cannot explain...
And then one day, you look up and realize you've been talking about God a lot but you haven't talked with Him in a long time.
You realize you've been singing His praises, but...when was the last time you praised Him?
You've been loving in the name of the Lord, but it's been hauntingly long since you've simply loved the Lord.
Don't feel bad. Because the truth is - we've all been there. Some of us are there today. We even talked about this in our arts team workshop last night - that sometimes, we just reach this point and it's unhealthy. On every level. But also that it's ok.
Do you hear me? It's ok. As long as you recognize it, humble yourself, and take the divine breath of fresh air you need to start breathing again.
The world will keep spinning without you.
I'm not going to tell you the answer to this trouble; I won't claim to understand how you connect with God. I know what works for me, but that's neither here nor there. But my advice is this: Wake up every morning and love God first. Don't worry about loving what you do for Him. Just love Him first. And don't worry about turning God on every day; let Him turn you on. When you find yourself in this disconnected place where you do a lot of God but you don't love a lot of Him, embrace that moment. Take some time to remember what it was like when you first got into this place, into this ministry. Remember the energy? Remember the way you felt like God was so close and ever-present, like you were finally in the very place He created you to be and He was standing right there with you, rejoicing? (If you haven't had that feeling, you haven't found it yet and you're in the wrong business. Sorry.) But remember that early energy. Remember that deep connection you had with God when you met Him at the place where you're supposed to be. And connect back to that. Connect back to the God who created you to be here...and the God who created this place for you. Fall in love with Him again, and you will remember your love for this.
Then do good work.
And love well.