When I turned 16, I received a call. It wasn’t on my navy blue Motorola Razor (which was graciously provided with my four year contract at Suncom that I decided to pay for myself). It was from God. I felt as though God had placed it on my heart to devote my life to ministry. It quickly became everything I wanted.
I poured my life, my heart, my soul, everything I did. It became about ministry. I went to bible college, but quickly came home when I realized that bible college was expensive and ministry money would not pay that off well.
While many spent their time in college living it up with weekends and parties and getting good grades, I lived mine on the 4th floor of an old building in downtown Savannah. Leading worship and games and playing cards for too many hours after VBS. I spent it writing songs on a ukulele while riding in the back of an old church mini van that smelled like cheerios on the way to some mission trip or ski trip. I spent it doing what I loved and what I knew I would do for the rest of my life.
Over the next ten years, ministry was my whole world. Sometimes I felt like I was good at it and sometimes I was overwhelmed by how much I had to learn. I lived for the relational side of it and dreaded staff meetings. I jumped from camps to retreats to kick offs, and sighed out massive amounts of exhaustion over aggressive parent emails.
I spent a decade learning and falling in love with the ins and outs of the local church. I learned denominations and practices. I learned the differences in what each church believed and what they valued. I served in three very different churches, but loved each one so differently. I loved them because of how they loved Jesus and taught others to love Him well.
I’ve been out of vocational ministry for one week. I never thought I would say that. I never thought I would step out. But I truly believe that God has called me to step out in this season. That’s not a fancy way of me prettying up a circumstance. I believe that to be the truth. It’s my truth, and even if it makes my heart hurt sometimes, it’s a truth that God will continue to unfold in the coming weeks and months and years.
If I’m being honest, there’s a part of me that I feel like I’ve never gotten to know. I’ve never really discovered who I am outside of ministry. Of course student ministry has always been important to me, but I think at some point, it became who I thought I was. I have found that a lot of my identity has been found in ministry and sometimes, dare I say, less in Jesus. Messy, right?
I have grown in my faith and of course I love Jesus. But I also sometimes feel like, I wonder, if I don’t know who I am outside of vocational ministry. It’s time consuming and has consumed a lot of who I am. When it got hard, like really hard, I felt like I started to feel like I was having an identity crisis.
This is what I always thought I would do. This is what I’ve always wanted to do. Do I still want to do this? Am I bad at this? Have I gone my whole life thinking ministry was something that it’s not? Was I something I’m not?
Identity Crisis. So dramatic, right?
I don’t think I’m done with student ministry forever. Probably not even in this season. I’m just blindly stepping out in faith and allowing God to guide me instead of telling Him what I should be doing. What I’m supposed to be doing. What we talked about me doing.
It’s a weird feeling. Not being in total control. But I also feel like I can finally rest because I don’t have the choice to be in control of some of these things.
It has only been a week, but I think a lot of this season will be me learning that I am not what I do. While I have always loved what I have done, I think I will be learning to truly love who I am, in or out of ministry.