Serving in ministry can often take us in two directions: either you feel inadequate or you feel unstoppable. This is how it is for me, anyway. With a Master’s degree in Theology and an unquenchable thirst for knowledge, it can be really easy for me to feel like I can solve any problem or answer any question. And if I don’t know the answer, I know where to find it.
On the flip side, having only been in full-time ministry for a year and a half, it is also really easy for me to feel like I don’t know what I’m doing, and that all these people have put the care of the eternal destiny of their souls in the wrong person. I flip flop between pride and feelings of inadequacy almost daily. If you’re serving the Church in any capacity, my guess is that you can relate.
Feelings of pride and insufficiency seem to be polar opposites, but they both come from a lack of humility
Sometimes we fall into the trap of thinking that if we aren’t smart enough, holy enough, “relevant” enough, old enough, or young enough, we aren’t trying hard enough. That is a lie. It is so easy to compare ourselves to the people around us and think, “Well that person stayed 10 minutes longer in Adoration than I did, they must be so holy. Why can’t I be holy like that?” And on the flip side, “I had my prayer time for an hour and a half today, and I know my roommate skipped theirs. I’m so glad I love God like I do!” Though these thoughts of pride and insufficiency seem to be polar opposites, they come from the same source: a lack of humility.
St. Bernard of Clairvaux describes humility best when he says that humility is where we see ourselves as we truly are. And in seeing ourselves as we are, we submit totally to God. The spiritual life is not about what knowledge we have, or what our lives are like compared to others. It’s about surrender to God. Ministry is the same. Our whole lives are centered on God’s will for us, and He is moving in our lives whether we realize it or not.
Realize that in every moment, God is present and working, even in the unnoticeable and insignificant things.
I found an excerpt from J.P de Caussade’s “Abandonment to Divine Providence” that I want to share. If you struggle with the will of God in your life, then this book is a must-read-immediately-no-I’m-serious. I encourage you to read it twice over:
Perfection does not consist in understanding God’s designs, but in submitting to them. God’s designs, God’s good pleasure, the will of God, the action of God, and his grace are all one in the same thing in this life. They are God working in the soul to make it like himself. Perfection is nothing else than the faithful cooperation of the soul with the work of God, and it begins, grows, and is consummated in our souls secretly and without our being aware of it.
Theology is full of ideas and expressions explaining the marvels of this ultimate state in each soul in accordance with its capacity. A man may know all the theory of it, may speak and write admirably on the subject, and instruct and direct souls, but if his knowledge remains merely theoretical, then compared with those who attain the goal of God’s design without knowing the theory of it in whole or in part, or without being able to discourse on it, he is like a sick doctor in comparison with simple people who are in perfect health.
If we wish to quench our thirst, we must lay aside books that explain thirst, and take a drink. By itself, curiosity for knowledge can only make one thirstier. Thus, when we thirst for holiness, curiosity for theoretical knowledge of it can only drive it further from us. We must put speculation on one side, and with simplicity drink everything that God’s designs present to us in actions and sufferings. What happens to us each moment by God’s design is for us the holiest, best, and most divine thing.
God’s will and plan for us is happening in each moment. Put aside the comparison, and realize that you are where God meant for you to be. Still wrestling with not being holy enough? Here’s the first thing you should do. Realize that in every moment, God is present and working, even in the unnoticeable and insignificant things. You are where you are, and where you are, God is moving.
Have you ever dealt with these feelings in ministry? What do you do to overcome, and how would you encourage others to press forward?
[tweetthis]Ministry is about surrender to God-not knowledge, popularity or anything else[/tweetthis]