What Ministry Is Not

I grew up in a pastor’s home. I lived with parents that eat, sleep, breath ministry and working for God’s kingdom. From scrubbing baseboards and painting the church, to studying, praying, and fasting for each sermon and lesson, to dealing with all kinds of people as counselors and psychiatrists, advising with Biblical and Godly wisdom. And you know what, my parents LOVE it. All of it. The good, the bad, the ugly. I was raised in an environment where the mentality was: it is a joy, an honor, and a privilege to serve God’s kingdom as ministers. Not one time did I hear my parents grumble or complain about the burdens of ministry. When my parents faced a challenging situation, they never vented or involved me and my sisters. There are things that happened to my parents that I didn’t find out about until I became an adult, because they wanted to protect us and never give us a hazy outlook on ministry. I am eternally grateful for that. I know of others that are pastor/minister’s kids who grew up to resent ministry. They knew about the drama and attacks upon their parents, their parents would be gone all day working at the church, and would pour so much of themselves into their ministry that there was hardly any time or energy for them.

The definition of ministry is literally: servanthood. But, unlike the maids and butlers of royalty- being a servant to God is so rewarding, a blessing, and a powerful experience. Being a servant to God feels like being royalty. Ministry is anything that somehow benefits the kingdom. Yes, some ministries put you on a stage for people to see. But, at the end of the day, God sees ministry as a thing of the heart. If you scrub that church toilet until your fingers bleed, God values that more than the guy who jumps behind a pulpit and didn’t prepare his message (real talk).

Ministry was made to be a practice taken on by a follower of Christ. First you follow, then you serve. When God went looking for disciples, He didn’t stop at asking them to follow. He told them he’d make them fishers of men and that they would have to take up their cross. Ministry is supposed to be something we do because we love God, we want to benefit His kingdom, and want to devote our time and energy as His devoted servants.

Ministry, as satisfying and honorable as it is, is not a relationship in itself. It is supposed to be a product of a relationship.

In church culture, we tend to glorify ministry. We tend to treat it as a status symbol or a fancy title. I remember being a teenage girl and that being the pick-up line guys would use to attract the women, “Yeah, I’m going to be a minister”. When in reality, that probably wasn’t the most pure-hearted statement.

But, for those that are genuinely in ministry (and not trying to pick-up a date), sometimes we feel a pressure to always produce. Like, give a progress update at the end of every day of things we’ve done, people who have been filled with the Holy Ghost, or how many followers we got on our ministry’s Instagram. Without meaning to, we can start behaving like ministry is a job and we are being rated on our performance. Subconsciously we will compare our ministry to others and our work to other churches. Sometimes we wake up stressed and go to bed stressed thinking about our ministerial responsibilities. And that, is simply exhausting and not the way God ever intended ministry to be.

Burn out is a real thing. I have seen it firsthand. Marriages fall apart, churches crumble, and minister’s spirituality suffer. All because a servant of the Lord gave and gave and stopped being refreshed from the fountain. People get spread so thin, trying to pour themselves into ministry with juggling work, school, family and friends, that they eventually breakdown.

It is okay to take a break or even to pull-out of ministries. Yes, you heard me right. I believe whole heartedly ministry is something EVERYONE should be involved in. It’s so rewarding and a blessing to the congregation. But, I have to remind myself that God rather have His relationship with you be priority, strong and thriving, than have you hanging on by a thread doing His work. Your walk with God is so much more important than what you do for Him. Although your local church and pastor appreciates your help (especially in a small church), make sure you are thinking of your spirituality and mental well-being first.

Are you getting burned out?

Do you feel like you have nothing else to give?

Do you find yourself more often stressed than uplifted when helping in the kingdom?

Does it feel like an obligation instead of a privilege?

These are hard questions each of us who are heavily involved in church need to ask ourselves.

Galatians 6:9 “And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.”

Matthew 11:28-30 “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

What God truly desires from us is communion, intimacy, meditation on His word, and to be priority in your life. Yes, that even means priority over your ministry.

Don’t find your satisfaction in what you do for Christ or the roles He has given you in His kingdom. But, in Him alone. Be thankful for the honor and opportunity of leadership that has been bestowed upon you. But, never let that fog your vision of what is most important…your one true love.

charity

Stuck in a Fairytale

Sometimes, when life get to us, we can feel lost. We feel lost until the next church service. Then it all comes back to us – just to lose ourselves again. Have you ever heard the metaphor of “getting lost in a book”? Where you read a book that so good you just can’t put it down? Living the life of an Apostolic Girl can be like that.

You see your friends out going to parties and it looks like they’re having so much fun. You see other teenage girls with boyfriends. You look at someone’s swim suit post and at how many likes they get. You start to get lost in this lie social media tells of how great their lives are. Until… you learn that teenage girl got pregnant. That boy from your High School overdosed. Their mom committed suicide. These things are real. Instagram is not.

It’s easy to get lost in a fantasy world. People can take one look at your life on instagram and call it perfect, but you have to see what’s behind the filter. It’s hard to not get lost in a perfect world. People get jealous and they want what they’ve been told that they can’t have. Being an Apostolic might mean you have to sacrifice some things. But it is all in God’s plan. Just imagine all the horrible things God has saved you from! You do not have to feel lost, because all you have to do is pray and give your baggage to Him. And, He can do it over and over again.

The Bible says “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” – Hebrews 11:1

This is something that we need to think about. God wants us to have faith in his works. He needs us to have faith in Him and understand why He leads us away from the temptations of this world. You are never too lost to be found.

chelsea blogger

Don’t Take a Holiday

Matthew 28:19- Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost

Mark 16:15 – And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.

Matthew 10:32 – Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven.

James 5:20 – Let him know, that he which converteth the sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins.

Luke 14:23 – And the lord said unto the servant, Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel [them] to come in, that my house may be filled.

Being a soul winner is the most honorable and important purpose our lives can serve, above any other achievement. A precious soul, created by God, a soul that He died for, is headed to hell by our sinful nature. To pull them out of the flames gives the Lord’s heart so much joy. For He is: “not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance” -II Peter 3:9.

We have a major responsibility as soul winners. It’s so easy to get caught up in our own lives, dreams, goals, problems, and situations. But, if we are to have the true nature of Christ- our love for the lost and care for their souls will always take priority. You think you’ve got it bad?

In this life, it is impossible to avoid hardships. But, imagine going through the same trials:

  • Without the Holy Ghost
  • Body of Christ to support you
  • A relationship with Jesus to comfort you
  • His Word to give you peace

Can we really say we’re surprised when people cut themselves, drown their sorrows in alcohol, numb the pain with drugs, and the even worse- kill themselves? They are defenseless against the enemy because they do not have access to the power that we do. People in the world have no immunity to spiritual attacks.

I am only speaking on this topic because it is something that I am so guilty of. Let’s get personal for a moment… I struggle with getting up in the mornings and sometimes walk into the office 15 minutes late. I’m so happy to be free on my lunch breaks, I have a hard time coming back to work. I know my coworkers see me come in late and my boss noticing my ever growing breaks. I’m not sinning or being immoral. But, am I still doing something just as damaging?

If we have ever claimed or will ever claim to be Christian/Apostolic/Pentecostal there is a responsibility we are taking on. What you say or claim means nothing to those around you if your actions do not to follow suite.

Maybe you think the little stuff like me running late and sneaking into the work place isn’t a big deal.

  • An occasional bad attitude
  • A little white lie to employers/professors
  • Moments of unkindness
  • Immodesty
  • Tolerating ungodliness (not speaking up or fleeing the situation)
  • Ignoring your surroundings (being compassionless and unconcerned)

Your witness doesn’t take a holiday.

You do not need to know someone very well to already form opinions about their character. It’s human nature! Especially in the world, where there is no grace, it is very natural for them to judge and form opinions of you.

People you may think have no idea that you exist, do notice you. Although they may not know your name or know your background- they do make judgments based off of your behavior, each and every day. From you professor, to your classmates, to your landlord, to your boss, to the lady that waits your table… The world is watching.

Being a Christian doesn’t end when you leave the sanctuary. There is no break, pause, or time-out. We must ALWAYS be conscience of our actions.

So, you have a bad day. Boss has been a jerk, you failed an exam, and you’re in a fight with your best-friend. You go to McDonald’s in a bad mood. The girl at the register gets your order wrong and you have to wait 20 minutes for your meal. In your anger and high emotion, you catch an attitude with the girl at the register. You snatch your food and give her a snarky comment and storm off with your eyes rolling.

There’s nothing wrong with having bad days and not being in pleasant moods. BUT, where the error happened was taking out the frustration on someone in the world. Thus ruining your witness. That cashier and everyone in that McDonalds has been affected. (This particular example deals with anger. But this also applies to acting depressed, sad, anxious, etc.)

People in the world are naïve and vulnerable. They have no wisdom from the Holy Ghost or spiritual strength to defend their emotions and perspective.

Matthew 5:16 – Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.

1 Peter 3:15 – But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and [be] ready always to [give] an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:

Colossians 3:23 – And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men;

In conclusion, our witness doesn’t take a vacation or leave. Everything you do is being watched every day. Although we have our hiding place and refuge within the church and the circle of church friends, we’ve been called to a higher place of responsibility when in the world. If you are struggling with something that may be affecting your witness- pray that God reveals what it is and gives you the determination to conquer it! I will be trying harder, personally. And I hope you do too.

charity

Fixer Uppers

Exasperated and tear-soaked, I flung my tired body onto my bed. Sighing into my pillow, I blubbered: “I just can’t do this anymore!” The waves of emotion moved over me: frustration, irritability, bewilderment, wanting more with less work– the experience needed to be over!

I laid there as the moments passed until, defeated, I dragged my hand across the pillow top, fingertips searching for the crisply untouched sheet of paper. I let my watery eyes absorb the Swedish Title and followed the illustrated instructions, trying to complete my IKEA furniture. Picture by picture I did what was told of me, the tears soaked back into my skin, and there– there was my finished Kullen dresser.

The mystification I was overcame with moments ago has resided to smiles, accomplishment, and neatly folded clothing. I had all the materials. I had the prior experience. I had the confidence. But I ignored the instructions. All of my own qualifications weren’t enough to complete the task ahead of me, I simply could not fix the situation!

This desire to “fix things” isn’t so unnatural. In fact, I think we all feel it. There’s an idea of what we want for our lives, and so we use our limited resources to achieve that goal! There are little Chip and Joanna Gaines inside all of us! But I have a belief that this “fix it” mentality stems from this question: how do we trust God’s plan when we don’t know what it is? Our desire to fix things is a result of not knowing the end, not knowing where God is leading us. It feels like being in the wilderness, and simply desiring more than clouds and fire.

In living positive, Christian lifestyles, it is natural and God-given to have big dreams (shout-out to the Josephs on AG!), but our life-instructions aren’t Swedish pictures with nuts, bolts, and wooden planks– it’s so much bigger! It’s the Word of God! The Lord beckons us to have faith and trust in Him! Trust the process! Yes, even in the “quiet-times,” He sees us. He’s always there.

Here are some Biblical promises that have practical applications that help us in trusting the process:

  1. God has all power and all authority.

There is nothing that He can’t do! Situations often seem impossible and like there is no way out. In the big ways and the small ways, these seasons of being “backed into a corner” are overwhelming by nature, but there is comfort in knowing that nothing is impossible for Jesus. He can make a way in every situation.

Scripture Reference:

“For with God nothing shall be impossible.” Luke 1:37

“But Jesus beheld them, and said unto them, With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible.” Matt 19:26

“For though he was crucified through weakness, yet he liveth by the power of God. For we also are weak in him, but we shall live with him by the power of God toward you.” II Corinthians 13:4

“Then Job answered the LORD, and said, I know that thou canst do every thing, and that no thought can be withholden from thee.” Job 42: 1-2

  1. JESUS LOVES YOU!

So much more than the song we sing in Sunday School, God is crazy about you! He loves you more than anything, and that can never change. He will never love you more. He will never love you less. He. Loves. You! I know for some of us, the question of trusting God’s plan has less to do with “can” he do it, but rather, “if” he will do it. However, this concern is of no value when we trust in His love. Whether He moves in the way we expect isn’t the heart of the matter, it’s knowing that when you’re trusting God, praying, fasting and seeking, it is not in His nature to leave you! He cannot do it! He is bound by his word. He loves you so much.

Scripture Reference:

“If then God so clothe the grass, which is to day in the field, and tomorrow is cast into the oven; how much more will he clothe you, O ye of little faith?” Luke 12: 28

“Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.” I Peter 5:7

“Know therefore that the Lord thy God, he is God, the faithful God, which keepeth covenant and mercy with them that love him and keep his commandments to a thousand generations” Deuteronomy 7:9

  1. His ways are higher than our own.

Along the vein of “things not going my way,” there is a deeper understanding that what I feel is — and what may be — “my good” is not necessarily God’s good. We love to quote Romans 8 where it says, “All things work together for THE GOOD of those who love him and are called according to his purpose,” but, it’s to note that it’s not necessarily MY good. It’s God’s good. For the betterment of His kingdom, so that souls might be saved.

C.S. Lewis makes an relates this concept well in the Chronicles of Narnia. The Pevensies, new to Narnia, are learning about Aslan. They keep asking the beavers if he is a “nice lion,” to which they glossily reply that he’s not nice, but he is good and he is just. As is God. Niceness gives us what we want (and because he loves us, God does deal with our wants and desires), but God’s goodness gives us what we NEED.

Isaiah 55 reminds us that his thoughts are higher than our own. Time does not exist for God, and He is always looking at the big picture. He sees the end and the beginning AT THE SAME TIME. He has never been surprised! There’s comfort in knowing that what I want, God will withhold because he knows what I need.

*Side bar: If I got everything I’ve ever wanted, I would be a Candy Land princess, married to Han Solo. Praise God I grew out of that phase, haha.

Scripture Reference:

“For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:9

“Great is our Lord, and of great power: his understanding is infinite.” Psalm 147:5

“Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations.” Jeremiah 1:5

Ultimately ladies — have patience. He sees you and he loves you. The season of patience you’re in is preparation for the greater things God has in store. David says that “surely goodness and mercy will follow me” — and surely goodness and mercy will follow you! He has not forgotten you, but the desire to “be a fixer” and to take matters into your own hands may rob you of the joy of the season you’re in. So break out your Life-Instruction-Manual (ahem, the BIBLE), snuggle into God’s open arms, and keep trusting in the carpenter who not only fixes things, but also creates it right the first time. He loves you.

about alexys

Alexys Rea Griffin is a 23-year-old coffee connoisseur, bibliophile, Disney aficionado, and fresh-flower-lover. Seeking her English Literature degree from Florida State University, Alexys devotes her time to the Campus Apostolic Ministry at FSU as well as youth ministry, kids ministry, and music ministry at her local church. Do you do Instagram? ‘Cause so does she: @alexysasalways

Texas Strong

I sit here, watching the rain come down just thinking about my Texas. My Texas is filling with water. My Texas is structurally falling apart. My Texas is hurting. My home, the place where I was born and raised, is hurting and my heart is breaking. With every passing hour, there is another picture of homes being torn apart and another picture of people crying out for rescue. With every passing hour, there is more destruction happening in my Texas.

But in every passing hour, I see hope, I see love, I see unity, I see God. I see God in a man carrying children out of the water and into safety. I see God in mothers shielding their children from the rain. I see God in strangers grabbing their boats and heading into disaster to rescue their neighbors. I see God in companies supplying basic needs. I see God in people sheltering each other from the storm. I see God in people loving others. I see God in Houston today. My state might be hurting, but God’s love is more evident than ever.

Today as I stare at the rain I can’t help but think of Matthew 5:45 and Isaiah 43:2. The Bible says that it will rain on the just and the unjust. Rain will come whether it is actual water falling from the sky or metaphorical rain in your life, you must expect rain. However in that rain, God promises in Isaiah 43:2 that when you pass through the waters, He will be with you. He will be the emergency responder heading into the storm to rescue you. He will be the family offering you shelter. He will be the neighbor sharing food and water. He will be with you wherever you go, even unto the end of the earth (Matthew 28:20).

I am proud of my Texas. I am proud of the unity I see in this beautiful state and in this beautiful country. I am proud to call myself a Texan and an American. I am proud of my fellow Texans and Americans helping those in need. I am praying for my neighbors in this time of need. Along with others, I want to be light for God in the midst of this time of darkness. I want to represent the Lord and represent Texas Strong.

about sarah

Sarah Barnhill, 21, is from Texas and is the middle sibling out of three girls in the Barnhill family. She recently graduated from Stephen F. Austin State University with her Bachelor’s degree. Her favorite snack happens to be Cheddar Jalapeno Cheetos!

Praying Selflessly

I can testify to what it feels like to be on pins and needles in your prayer life. We all have (or will) come to a moment where an important decision must be made. It’s never easy to determine what to do. It could be deciding where to go to college, your job choice, where to live, whether to date (or marry) that handsome young man, where to travel, how to handle confrontation- ugh! You don’t make it through this life without stressful obstacles that cannot be avoided.

So, we immediately plunge into what we know is best- prayer. But, I have experienced times where even with all my prayer about a particular circumstance, I still felt stuck.

Although prayer is powerful and you can never get enough of it, if you are firstly stressed, anxious, or obsessing over an issue, your “prayers” only make you more frazzled. Pray about it, fast about it, and ask to hear from the Lord. Then, gracefully…move on.

We women are notorious for overanalyzing, overthinking, and having a hyperactive imagination. (It’s because we are geniuses). But, it can also be harmful when we are praying and interceding for ourselves. Pray without ceasing does not mean to do so while being tormented by worry and confusion. That is simply not of God. He is not cruel. He hears your prayers and sees your pursuit of an answer. So, do not live like you are having to fight for your cause every day.

What is the solution to releasing stress, anxiety, and fear? All I can do is tell you what has worked for me. I encourage you to try it out for yourself and tell me how it works after a few days of practice!

I pray for others.

We all know friends, family, coworkers, and saints in our local churches. Each person is facing their own battle, needs protection and guidance, or could just use a spontaneous blessing from your prayers. It is so liberating to get your mind off of your own problems and be concerned with others. You’ll start to notice that you don’t feel as anxious, worried, or fearful.

Because the simple truth is beautiful. While you are praying and interceding for others, God has others doing the same for you. You make God’s business yours, He’ll make yours His.

Philippians 2:3-4 “Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.”

This scripture perfectly explains how we should behave in our prayer life. Although praying for yourself is essential, it is a whole new and wonderfully rewarding experience to pray on the behalf of others.

I’ve witnessed it myself and practice selflessly praying for others when I find myself overwhelmed in my own circumstance. It works! After all, the heartbeat of Christ is to love and care passionately and selflessly. If we want to truly follow after a lifestyle like His, we’ll do the same.

about blogger

Charity Huba is a 24 year old Floridian, fond of the State’s hot summers and tropical beauty. She is a leader in youth ministry, music ministry, and Sunday school. She has her degree in Political Science and works for the government in the Division of Elections. She adores quality time with her loved ones, musicals, and moon-lit nights.

evenTHOUGH

This life can be overwhelming. We can be overwhelmed by situations in our personal lives, anxieties about the world we live in, or even worries about our futures. Sometimes things in this life work out exactly the way we plan, but sometimes our plans completely fall apart. Sometimes we feel at peace and sometimes we look around and wonder how we will ever make it to tomorrow. Life is full of ups, downs, twists, and turns, but how do we approach God through it all?

Habakkuk was a prophet of the Lord that wrote a book in the Bible. Habakkuk’s book is a three-chapter conversation between him and God. Habakkuk’s prayers to God were full of fear because everywhere he looked, he saw destruction and violence. Habakkuk cried out to God asking Him why he had to watch and face so much misery. He asked God how long did he have to call for help before God intervened. How many times have we felt like Habakkuk? How many times have we seen violence or destruction in our lives and world? How many times have we asked God how long will we have to cry for help before He intervenes?

Throughout Habakkuk’s conversation with God, the Lord revealed to Habakkuk that there would be hard times, but that He had a plan. The Lord explained to Habakkuk that even when God’s plan seems slow in coming, he must wait patiently because it will surely take place and it will not be delayed (Habakkuk 2:3). Sometimes we can approach situations in life like Habakkuk. We can see destruction and immediately begin to fear. We cry out to God and feel as if He isn’t going to show up in time. We feel overwhelmed by this life and begin to question God’s timing and plans; however, we must trust in the Lord. We must believe in His plan and His timing. Just like God promised to Habakkuk, He promises to us that, if we wait patiently, His plan will SURELY take place and it will NOT be delayed.

In whatever we face throughout this life, we must trust and believe in God’s plans and timing. In Habakkuk’s prayer, he explained, “Even though the fig trees have no blossoms, and there are no grapes on the vines; even though the olive crop fails, and the fields lie empty and barren; even though the flocks die in the fields, and the cattle barns are empty, yet I will rejoice in the Lord!” Even though all Habakkuk saw was destruction and he had nothing left, he chose to rejoice in the Lord. He chose to be joyful in the God of his salvation because he knew that the Lord was his strength (Habakkuk 3:18-19).

Even though we face hard times, He is there. Even though all we see is destruction or failure, God is in control. Even though we see no solution and we are overwhelmed by our situation, God has a plan. Even though we feel like we will never obtain our victory or our callings, God has a perfect timing. We must wait patiently on the Lord because His plan for our lives will surely take place. We must be joyful because Jesus died on the cross for our salvation and we are strengthened because the joy of the Lord is our strength. Even though life is overwhelming at times, yet we will rejoice in the Lord.

about sarah

Sarah Barnhill, 21, is from Texas and is the middle sibling out of three girls in the Barnhill family. She recently graduated from Stephen F. Austin State University with her Bachelor’s degree. Her favorite snack happens to be Cheddar Jalapeno Cheetos!