There is a tendency in ministry to talk about what we do as “ours” or “mine”. I’ve fallen into that trap more times than I can count. My ministry is growing or my program has seen much change and improvement. Wrong. This ministry I’m blessed to work with isn’t mine. It is God’s – He just lets me be His hands and feet.
It really is a pride thing, or so I’ve found, when we start claiming things as our own. Has the ministry grown under my direction? Perhaps, but that doesn’t make it mine. God willed it to be so and could just as easily let me fail to teach me a different kind of lesson. When I start claiming the ministry as my own, dangerous things can happen. I start thinking that the success or failure of it relies solely on me and my abilities. When that starts to happen, I lose focus and the ministry fails. It is a danger we all face – those in ministry, but everyone really – the danger of thinking we have complete control over everything, or anything for that matter.
The reality is that the only thing I can ever claim as my own is my sin. My responsibility, my fault, my failure. My successes however, whether in ministry, marriage, or life in general, are not mine to claim complete praise for. I can’t ‘succeed’ in ministry – no matter how you define success – without the Holy Spirit guiding me. Being a director of faith formation means nothing if Christ isn’t at the center of everything I’m doing: recruiting volunteers, training said volunteers, picking curriculum, teaching kids about Jesus, etc. None, and I do mean none, of that matters if I think the ministry is mine or if I lose my focus on what is truly important: salvation.
The same can be said of marriage. It isn’t my marriage, it is our marriage – a covenant that Anthony and I made with God. Our marriage isn’t merely about us, what we want, what we desire or what we think we should be getting or giving in our marriage. Our marriage is about getting each other to Heaven, encouraging each other to be holier along the way, riding ourselves of pride and drawing closer to Christ. The goal, much like with ministry, is salvation. It isn’t about me, my, I, or myself. It is about God, as well it should be.
The same, I think, will be said of parenthood. Our children will not be our own, not eternally anyway. They are on loan from God, gifts from Him for us to raise, love, nurture and teach about Him. It will, I imagine, be easy and very tempting to claim our kids as our, to claim total dominion over them. But the reality is that we wouldn’t have them in the first place if God didn’t give them to us, if He didn’t trust us with them (and why would He do that in the first place?!). The children we’ll someday have, much like ministry or our marriage, are not ours, but a gift from God, a means to our salvation, and hopefully, to theirs.
“It isn’t mine” – be it ministry, marriage, or children – isn’t meant as a way to get out of something but as a way to remind us of our goal, to rid ourselves of pride and to draw ever closer to Christ.