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

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

Framed as a Failure

I enjoy writing for AG.com, not just so I can preach at you and throw some scripture. But, I enjoy writing for this blog because I get to be open and hopefully relate to you! We are all alike in more ways than you’d expect. So, I don’t mind being a little vulnerable about my life experiences.

I’ve always felt like I was two steps behind. In school I struggled to keep my grades above a C average. I was good at being friendly and conversing, but what good was that?! I knew I had strengths, but they seemed worthless in areas that mattered. For example, I was carefree and good tempered (a strength), but it would cause me to be more susceptible in forgetting and lacking concern for due dates, responsibilities, and important events. My family consists of talented, gifted, and intelligent people, which left me feeling inadequate at times in my youth. After high school, I decided to get a better job, save money, and volunteer in my community with my free time. I would see my friends on social media at their prestigious universities or going out of the country on some exotic trip. And I would ask myself, “What’s wrong with you?”

I am grateful for where God has brought me to! But, maybe you can see why I felt like a failure many times when comparing my life to friends, family, and the image of success by society’s standards.

We live in a society that is obsessed with success, promotion, and profile elevation. I have noticed a common theme with many story lines about the modern woman. The girl that is the main character usually lives in a nice city apartment, has a degree from an ivy league, and works for a magazine company or some Fortune 500 corporation. For her to be an exciting and inspirational heroine, she must have this image. It’s like society knows to truly be successful, you must obtain accolades, degrees, titles, and money.

The principal behind a success hungry mentality is not all bad. After all, we want to do our best with the life God has blessed us with! But, what is true success?

What the world may view as failure or unsuccessful is fruitful when you are in God’s will and bringing Him pleasure.

When you want to “grade” your success, ask yourself these questions:

1)              Am I following the Word of God and pleasing Him in my lifestyle?

2)              Am I taking advantage of the opportunities God has given me?

3)              Am I looking for ways to better myself (especially spiritually)?

If you answered yes to all three, I can’t see why you would ever view yourself as a failure.

I Corinthians 3:6-8 (KJV)

“I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase.

So then neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase.

Now he that planteth and he that watereth are one: and every man shall receive his own reward according to his own labour.”

A “faith without works is dead” kind of scenario. If you don’t labor and work hard in this life…there will be no increase! If you don’t apply yourself, wither it’s pursuing a degree, a career, or ministry, you will have nothing to show for it.

“Okay, Charity. But, what if I have worked and tried really hard and I’m just not moving forward?!”

Proverbs 16:9 (KJV)

“A man’s heart deviseth his way: but the Lord directeth his steps.”

He is going to say no at times. He is going to say yes when you weren’t planning to move. Simply because He has something better in your future and/or is protecting you from growth stagnation. God is wiser, smarter, and knows all. When we take matters into our own hands, we are judging and concluding from a very shallow perspective.

This doesn’t mean stop planning and preparing for your future, because God wants you to be passionate about the life He’s given you! But, it means to understand why some doors close and why some open. It’s like God gives you a little shove here and there to keep you on the path of His perfect will!

Psalm 18:33 (KJV)

“He maketh my feet like hinds’ feet, and setteth me upon my high places.”

Overall, if you don’t have a high paying job, a degree to hang on the wall, intelligence, a hefty bank account, extraordinary good looks, or great social skills- you are not a failure! Don’t listen to those around you. Read God’s Word and see what is successful to the One who created life and the essence of dreams. Please God, follow His guidance, and take opportunities He presents. That is true success and the secret to a satisfied and content life.

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.

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.

The Season of Waiting

In Ecclesiastes, we are told that there is a season for everything. In fact, Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 provides a long list of the seasons that we might face. There are seasons of joy, seasons of weeping, seasons of love, seasons of peace, seasons of loss, and even seasons of silence. It is explained that every season has a purpose, but what about those seasons that are almost unbearable? What about those seasons of complete frustration? What about those seasons where we feel like nothing will ever work out? What about the seasons of waiting?

We all have goals. Some goals are small, like only drinking one cup of coffee a day or making it through finals week. However, most of our goals are big ones that we dream and Pinterest about constantly. Goals such as owning your own house, having an actual career, getting married, having children, or travelling the world. These big goals are the ones we find ourselves constantly thinking or worrying about. These are the goals that we wish to obtain ASAP. These are the seasons we wish would just hurry up. Unfortunately, instead of being in those grand seasons we dream about, we are sometimes met with a completely different season. This is the season of waiting.

The season of waiting is not a very glamorous season. I mean, who has ever looked forward to sitting in a waiting room? The season of waiting can be uncomfortable, frustrating, and even a little discouraging. Maybe you are waiting to graduate high school, for a job opportunity, to go to college, to pay off loans from college, or to get married. No matter what you are waiting for, the season of waiting is never easy. It’s uncomfortable not knowing your next step. It’s frustrating not being able to do exactly what you want to do and when you want to do it. It’s discouraging to see everyone else’s plans work out while your plans are still on hold. The season of waiting is a hard season; however, there IS a purpose for this season.

When we are waiting on the Lord’s perfect timing, we must remember that the season of waiting is a significant time. It’s a time of building trust in God’s will. It’s a time of casting every single care on Him and believing that He will work everything out. It is a time to build strength and break down distractions. When the Lord ushers us into the season of waiting, this season is not meant to be a punishment. The Lord is using this season of waiting to remind us to look at Him, trust in Him, and follow Him. Lamentations 3:25 says, “The Lord is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him.” This reminds us that if we wait for the Lord and His perfect will, He will bring so many good things into our lives. Isaiah 40:31 reminds us that those who wait on the Lord will have renewed strength and will mount up with wings like eagles. Those who wait on the Lord will run and not be weary; they will walk and not faint.

So again I remind you, there is a season for everything and every season has a purpose. When you pray for the Lord’s will, He will bring you into the season He chooses. We must trust in His timing and wait upon the Lord. We must find purpose and beauty in the season of waiting for “…God has made everything beautiful for its own time (Ecclesiastes 3:11).”

Things you can strive to do during your season of waiting:

  1. Create a routine every day for reading your Bible and praying
  2. Establish good habits
  3. Examine your life and discard worldly distractions
  4. Pray for the Lord’s will
  5. Remember that the joy of the Lord is your strength
  6. Be a light for Jesus
  7. Get involved in church and volunteer activities
  8. Prepare yourself for the next step in your life
  9. Memorize scripture
  10. Glorify God in everything you do and everywhere you go!

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!

T-Shirts, Tacos and Other Matters of the Heart

At thirteen years old, I remember sitting in my first youth group session. Our youth leader drilled into us, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” (Jer. 17:9) I said, “okay,” and successfully for the last ten years I’ve steered clear of the Target t-shirt aisle blaring declarations of, “follow your heart.” I never once bought a journal or wall decor with anything that read such condemning words. I would never say them verbatim to a friend. No matter the circumstance, I’ve always known better than to promote following the thing that was so deceitfully wicked.

But for the first time in those ten years I’m realizing that despite my bold protest, I’m not sure I wholly knew what that sentiment meant. I mean, maybe in the big ways I did; I certainly never pursued my childhood dream of becoming a rockstar (although as a teacher, I still think I fit the rockstar description), but in the small day-to-days, I have found myself making decisions based off of how I felt. With every decision comes a consequence, and it took a few hurtful consequences for me to realize that emotionally charged direction is exactly the same thing as following one’s heart.

So, in our perseverance to become women of God, let’s take a moment to understand what following your heart truly means:

First, the sentiment: follow your heart. This idea means that your own internal sense of ”knowing” is something worth following. Your own experience can guide you to the brightest of futures and that as long as you have the courage to pursue it, true happiness will follow! Very Disney-esque, amiright? While this notion is somewhat empowering, it’s fallacy is in the idea that we — our human nature — could create the best life for ourselves! This is Biblically wrong because we know that only God is omniscient and has a perfect will for our lives; I could never make a more perfect plan for my life than Him! And frankly, it takes a large portion of pride to believe that I could. Following your heart denies logic and faith in God, but instead grants approval and direction to that which, the Bible says, “proceeds evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies” (Mt. 15:19) — that is a lot of mess for one heart! And, even if theft and blasphemy and the other such doesn’t seem to be a regular battle for you, honestly, how could this very same heart that ominously whispers “eat Taco Bell,” at 11:00pm make consciously good decisions for my life! I know very well I should not eat Taco Bell that late. I’ve seen others do it and regret it; I’ve done it and regretted it — but that doesn’t stop the neon sign and cheesy quesadillas from beckoning me! Nevertheless, because experience, logic, and testimony reminds me, I am able to keep driving and say: “No. That’s not a good choice for you. Sure, it’s nice now, but later, it won’t be.”

Now, if only we applied this same cautionary dialogue to so many of our other decisions: “Sure, he’s nice and cute, but maybe I should moderate how much of my heart I invest…” Or, “Yes, what she did was wrong, but that text message is a feeble line of defense that will only leave you both hurt…” Too often, our day-to-days include little decisions that snowball and can eventually leave us wounded! This is why Proverbs tells us to “keep thy heart with ALL diligence; for out out of it are the issues of life” (Pro. 4:23). The Bible is commanding us to guard our hearts! That means keeping our walls up in the small ways and being intentional with our emotions. By the Holy Ghost, you do have the power to gauge your reactions. And for the days where emotions win out (because we’ve all been there), know to learn from your mistakes. You will feel anger, love, sadness, joy, happiness and so much more, (And, when you direct those emotions they can be used for good! Passion about the right things is a good thing!) but, you can pray that the Lord gives you discernment to know when you’re being heart-lead and the power to be able to stop and approach with caution and care.

The dramatic is so appealing in Hollywood films; it’s romantic, it’s passionate, it’s heartbreaking, it’s the spice of the movie! But remember, our lives are not movies; but rather, they are so much better. After the screen fades to black, we have lives to live and God-given futures to fulfill and furthermore — lives to change. How can we change lives if we’re so caught up in the inward-thinking of our own?! God has amazing things in store for you! There are great things he wants to do in you and through you! So let’s start by leading our hearts instead of following them.

about alexys

Alexys Rea Griffin is a 22-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 Kids Ministry at her local church. Do you do Instagram? ‘Cause so does she: @alexysasalways

Record Keeping

Todays society is built upon record keeping. We keep record of everything: birth certificates, medical charts, school reports, immunizations, and even work-related documents. We begin our record keeping at birth and continue this system for the rest of our lives. Some of us are more organized than others when it comes to record keeping, but either way, it is a huge part of all of us.

We think of record keeping as more information based; however, God keeps records out of love. God knows the number of hairs on your head, the day you were born, the plans He has for your life, and so much more! God keeps tons of records about you, but there is one record God refuses to keep.

1 Corinthians 13 explains to use what love truly looks like. In this chapter, we learn that “love is patient, kind, does not envy, does not boast, and is not proud.” We learn about what love is and what love isn’t; however, in verse 5 we learn one thing that love can do.

1 Corinthians 13:5 says that love “…keeps no record of wrongs.” Love does not keep any records of when we mess up.

In 1 John 4:8, we learn that God is love. God is love and love does not keep records of our wrongs. When we mess up, when we sin, when we do something we know is not right, God does not keep a running list of everything that we have done wrong. Through repentance and asking for forgiveness, God’s blood that He shed for us on the cross washes away everything wrong in our lives. By His mercy we are forgiven and are not given the punishment we deserve. By His beautiful grace we can move forward and live a Godly life full of joy and peace.

If God does not keep a record of our wrongdoings, neither should we. When we have received God’s forgiveness, we must let go of the past so we can move forward. Forward into the path God has chosen. Forward into the calling God has placed on our lives. Forward into our relationship with Him. Of all the records that are kept about us, I am so thankful for a God that removes the record of our sins as far as the east is from the west.

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!