Its interesting how easily what we do can become who we are.
I have been totally exhausted recently. I know I had at one point said that I was going to forever trust God with the ministries I am involved in, but that was easier said than done. The worst part was that I didn't even realize I had put the burden back on my shoulders. Either I am addicted to stress, or Satan has done a bang up job of messing with my head. I had fallen back into the thought pattern that said it all was up to me, and I had to make the ministry great. Somewhere along the way my view of reality became incredibly narrow. That caused me to feel even more responsible, anxious and tired. I felt like everything I did was criticized and picked apart, nothing was good enough.
This is the state I was in when I talked to a friend about New Year Resolutions. She said she wasn't doing those this year, but rather picking one word and focusing on that. I loved that idea, so I stole it. After a little prayer, I came to realize my word for 2014 is REST.
I guess God wants to start this year off with a bang because very soon after coming to my word, I felt like He asked me to take time off from the ministries I am involved in/leading. I was not pleased with that, at all. I started telling him all the reasons that was a silly idea. 'I don't want to take time away from my kids. I love them, and they need me. Plus, what am I apart from youth ministry...?" That's where I stopped. I don't know when it happened, but my identity has shifted from who God says I am to what I do for God.
This is not a new problem for God. Jesus had a friend who seemed to face a very similar issue. Our story is found in the tenth chapter of The Gospel of Luke.
As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”
“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” (Luke 10:38-42)
In the same way that Martha though serving was the most important, I have put my work in ministry above my actual relationship with God. That's not to say I don't believe, but rather I have been knocked off my center.
I think of it like this; a washing machine that is off center will still clean clothes, but it wastes energy by bumping into the sides. A well balanced washing machine is more efficient. I need to recenter my life on Christ and make our relationship the priority. I will be much more effective if I do; not because of me, but because God will be able to use me when he chooses to. I (hopefully) won't get in the way so much.
So, I'm taking a month off from all youth ministry. This month is going to be incredibly hard. I am already a mess and I'm only 4 days into it. But, I'm going to trust God to take care of everything, and pray that I am well rested and recharged during this time off. Like a friend of mine pointed out, even God rested after creating everything. (Genesis 2:2-3) Who am I to think I am above the need to rest? If it's good enough for God, it is more than good enough for me.