As some of you know, I’ve had a few day jobs in my lifetime. Most of my time now is spent chasing after our two littles, but I do get to pull in a few hours a day crafting my words into sentences and paragraphs and the occasional 144-character witty statement.
Before I was a mama and a storyteller, I was in ministry full-time (and before that, I spent my days confined to four glorious walls of a high school English classroom). I hung out with middle school and high school students, I met and trained and cheered on volunteer leaders, and I worked with grown-ups way smarter than me to raise the funds to keep our local outreach ministry afloat. We put on programs and we prayed and did life together; I spoke and made people laugh and learned how to ask people a million questions, because every human, as you know, just wants to be known.
It was an all or nothing job, in the sense that it required every part of me. I had a hard time turning off, because the need was always present and urgent for me to do, because at the end of the day, the ministry rested on my shoulders.
And maybe this is where some of you who are in full-time ministry look at me and say, Well, there’s your problem, friend. You didn’t rely on God to handle all of it. It wasn’t for you to do!
I’d look at you and nod.
Then I’d remind you that ministry is a different beast, because it’s not just your job, but it’s your heart and it’s your soul, and sometimes when all of those parts of you get tangled together, it’s just messy.
And when you leave all this messiness, you also don’t know what to do with yourself. So I’d tell you one more story, and I sure hope that you’ll listen along the way.
I’m delighted to have my words featured on Gifted for Leadership, which is a part of Christianity Today. It’s a very small part of my story, about when I experienced a loss of identity after leaving ministry.
Don’t worry: there are also five helpful hints at the end for what you can do if you’re starting to feel this way.
Otherwise, have a great weekend, y’all!
For those of you who’ve been in ministry or are in ministry, has this ever been true for you? Regardless of ministry in particular, when have YOU felt like you’ve experienced a loss of identity?0