It was a Wednesday night, I was 17, and deep down I was hurting and broken. I knew I needed more, but didn't realize that what I needed was a God who would continuously stand in the trenches before me or place people in my life who would stand when I couldn't.
That night when I walked into Youth Group, Angel talked about the valley of the dry bones and I just remember feeling like "That's me. I want life again. I need life again." What's so interesting is that I felt that, but didn't quite understand what that meant. Yet, I said "Yes" to God that night and 10 years later I'm still following, serving, and growing in my faith. It's been an amazing journey of growth and self-reflection.
In no particular order though, here are the 10 things I've learned through ministry and following God in the last 10 years.
1. Grace and freedom are for me
I’ve struggled with this one over the last 10 years, but slowly am I realizing that grace and freedom, one of the reasons why Jesus went to the cross, was for me. I often think that we are so quick to preach it to those that need to hear it that we forget to sit down and preach it to ourselves.
2. Ministry should be fun
While the internship was difficult at times, it was fun. It was fun because I knew in that season of life that I was doing ministry with the right people. Aside from that though, ministry shouldn’t feel like a chore or an obligation. At that point of doing ministry you need to check your heart. It’s either you’re approaching burnout or you’ve already been burnt out and you serving and giving out of an empty cup.
3. Discipline & Diligence
When I was an intern I learned discipline and diligence not from the serving teams I was on for rotations. It wasn’t from the school work (mostly because I’d already gotten through that part of my life). It wasn’t necessarily from doing my devotions daily. You know where I learned it? I learned it from waking up at the crack ass of dawn and hauling my butt over to the church to clean. To clean a toilet. To clean a portable. To use a tooth brush to clean the chairs because of community service I earned, haha.
It was because in those quiet mornings I learned that I needed the discipline to do something so early, but all the diligence to see the task through.
4. You’re either going deeper or going higher
Once you say “Yes” to Jesus, He’s always going to then call you to climb higher or go deeper. I think of the fishermen when they couldn’t catch anything. Jesus asked them to go out further to cast their nets. The catch, haha, was that the fish they were catching were mostly found in shallow waters and in the night. Here they were in broad day light looking like fools, but you know what? They struggled with bringing the nets back in because they were so full.
When we go deeper or higher there’s always going to be something greater than we expected.
5. The fire hurts
I’ve been in seasons of refinement, or walking through the fire, and it hurts. Those are seasons where God is pulling the deepest and hardest stuff out of your heart. But the beauty of the refinement process is that you’re being restored.
6. Ministry isn’t about me
I know I said ministry should be fun, but what it also should be is the people and the kingdom. When ministry starts becoming about yourself, you shut out any chance for the spirit to move through situations and circumstances. Make it about the kingdom and God’s will.
7. You matter
I love Paul’s letters because he doesn’t just say a word of praise to what God has done, but he also affirms the people he is writing to. He reminds them that they matter and over the last 10 years I’ve battled some of my own demons, but I ALWAYS come back to the fact that I’ve mattered and have worth.
8. My better days have come
When I was an intern I often heard the saying, “The best is yet to come” or “You’re better days are coming” and you know what? It pissed me off. Maybe because I was impatient, haha. While I loved the saying, what got me more was the fact that my better days have already arrived. They’ve arrived because Jesus went before me and made himself the ultimate sacrifice.
He did what I couldn’t and don’t think I ever would do. But that being said, he did that so I could have better. When I said “yes” 10 years ago, I say yes to the beginnings of my better days. Not my easy days, but my better days because that’s what these last 10 years have been.
9. Love God and Love People
Say that with me! “Love God and Love People.” That’s one of the things about following God and living a life to see his kingdom come has been about. It’s been about loving him and seeing the promise he has for me, but also it’s been about the people around me. I was invited to the table because someone made a place for me. I invite people at the table because I’ve made a place for them.
10. Keep fighting
Here I am, 10 years later fighting a fight where I know the outcome: I’ve won. I’ve won because God’s already one, but every day I have the option to give into the lies of the enemy or I can rest in the truth that I was made with a purpose and given a promise.
It’s been a crazy 10 years of walking with God. Some years were easy and others were down right hard, but at the end of each day God met me where I was at. Celebrated my wins. Wept in my lows. I was always invited back to the table and I was always celebrated by such an amazing God.