Am I Leaving Ministry?
In the past 6 months, I have been removed from ministry leadership due to an addiction I had caused by a trauma I experienced in high school and college. I went back to drinking in order to assuage the mental strife I had from therapy for the traumatic events. Soon, I lost control. I could not have just a single drink. Because of that and my depression, I was hospitalized this summer by my own volition. I thought for sure this ruined my chances in ministry. However, when I asked my pastor, he responded “you will always be in ministry if it is up to me.” But I needed a break so that I can heal. When I got out of the hospital, my local ministers license had been revoked because of my drinking. It would have been easy for me just to change churches, but God told me I am exactly where I needed to be. Through this healing process, I have had a taste of life outside of ministry. Besides helping lead worship and giving a few sermons, I have been away from ministry for about 5 months. Doors and opportunities have opened up for me to be successful outside of ministry. Maybe this is God telling I am not cut out for ministry. On top of that, jobs in ministry do not exactly pay well or offer job stability.
A few nights ago, I started thinking of all the reasons I can’t be a pastor. The small voice in my head became louder and louder. I was again on the verge of dropping out of my MDiv program. I thought what is the use, I could never be a pastor. I could never picture me as a pastor or in ministry. These were lies the enemy was telling me. To combat it, I reached out to a few people I trusted to see if there was truth in the voices or not.
I first reached out to my friend Mary Beth. I told her I think I am going to drop out because I did not feel as though I was meant for ministry. She straight up told me “I think you’re wrong.” Wow, now here is a trusted friend completely disagreeing with the voices. I asked her why and she said she has seen my love for my mentees and have read things I have written. She believes I was called. Of course the voices disagreed. I asked her how she thinks I am a good role model when right now all I think about is alcohol. Her response stopped me in my tracks “Because of everything you’ve already overcome. Because you’re capable of thinking about it without acting on it. Because you don’t just talk the talk, you’ve walked the walk. You’re not a minister who has never done anything but will tell people not to do it, you’re one who has done it and can really tell people why they shouldn’t because it’s NOT the answer. God has never called the qualified. God has always qualified the called.” All I could respond was “you’re right.” We ended the night with her telling me “But from the moment I met you, I’ve had no doubt that you were called.” I must admit I cried a little. I was having difficulty seeing what she saw in me, but I trusted her.
I also reached out to a pastor I trusted, Kevin, and asked him this simple question “Do you think I’m cut out for ministry?” He responded with multiple questions like “who said what to you to think you are not? Is the voice from God or from man?” As the conversation continued he asked “are you feeling healthy right now? If not, focus on that while you’re not healthy and don’t ask yourself this question.” He was right. I was not in a good place. It was a depressive episode and it was not a good time to ask myself this question.
Before I went to bed, I texted my mentor, Joe, the same question I asked this pastor. “Do you think I am cut out for ministry. I woke up to a simple and straight to the point answer “Yes, because it is not you, but Christ in you. Lead by the Holy Spirit and you will do great things.” He has seen me at my best, but he has also seen me at my worst. He knows me better than any other person. Maybe he sees something in me that I could not see. He was right. By myself and by my own strength, I could not do ministry. Because of the change Christ has done in my life, He alone makes me cut out for ministry. He started a good work in me and I trust Him to complete it. I know in God’s timing, I will be in ministry right where He wants me.
I trust these people. These are people who have invested into my life and keep me accountable. I was at a low and these three kept me straight. As Christians, we are called to live in community. That is so important to me, especially with having depression. I need godly people to tell me when I am wrong and to encourage me when I am down. I have so much potential and I am not identified by my depression or by past mistakes. God is forming me and qualifying me to be a pastor that will do great things for His glory.