Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Trading Anxiety for Peace and Joy

"Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God;  and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus." Philippians 4:5-7

For the past week or so, I've been anxious. You see, November 21st was my last day of work. My job was not working out for several reasons and after prayer and talking with my husband, we decided it would be best to leave that position. I was excited about some new possibilities and eager to be home and explore those possibilities. So, what have I done since being home?  I've been anxious. Not worried, but anxious to get things going to find my direction, my new enterprise and to delve into it wholeheartedly.

The problem is...was...that I had no idea what I wanted to do. I prayed about it - have been praying about it - but have not yet received any direction. That's when I let anxiety creep in.

What if I had made a mistake in quitting my job? What if I didn't find something to bring in some money to help pay the bills? What if my life slipped back into the state it was in before I found that job? I had been anxious, constantly scrambling for ways to make money, to validate myself, to feel like I had a purpose. I didn't - don't - want to go back to that, and yet, I could feel myself slipping right back into it. Until this morning...

God, in his awesome faithfulness opened my eyes this morning to realize that every minute I spend in anxiety is a waste of the day that He has given me NOW. This is the day that the Lord has made and I should rejoice and be glad in it, not be anxious in it. Anxiety steals your joy and God wants me to live a joyous life. I dug further into my Bible, then read a few pages in one of my journals where I had recorded some powerful truths about praying in faith and through that portion of time I spent with God this morning, He lifted the anxiety.

Today, I will be joyful, I am trusting God to lead me in the direction He wants me to go in this next stage of my life and I am trusting Him to provide for our needs in whatever way He chooses. I'm open to His will and I'm refusing to be anxious. And, yes, I feel His peace. Just as He promised. When we lay anxiety aside, we receive His peace.

Prayer: Thank you, Heavenly Father, for your peace that passes all understanding. My circumstances haven't changed, but my heart and mind have. You have taken away the anxiety and replaced it with peace and joy. What a wonder you are!

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(Copyright© 2012 Jan Christiansen. All rights reserved.)

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Ministry Burnout - Are you doing someone else's part?

"Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others." Romans 12:4-5

photo courtesy  weirdvis,
I've heard this verse used many times to remind us that each of us have a part to play in the church (the body of Christ). Each of us is blessed with gifts, talents and abilities that qualify us to fulfill specific needs in the church and if each one of us will use those gifts, the body functions just as it was meant to function. That's the usual application of this verse and it's spot on, but today I saw a different side of it.

Not only do members not all have the same function, no one member has everything it takes to do every job in the church and yet, it's common to see one person filling several rolls within the church, just because there's a need, just because they're available or just because no one else has stepped up.

There's so much wrong with that picture that I don't know where to begin. First, that "do-it-all" person is going to burn out. Second, that person will do their best, but probably not do as well as someone who has been gifted in a particular area would do. Third, if they keep stepping into the roles that others were meant to fulfill, they are thwarting the will of God.

Now, that's a shocking statement. Most of us (yes, I'm including myself) think that if we volunteer (willingly or out of guilt or need) that we are doing God's will, but that's not so. It's not God's will for one person to be stretched so thin that ministry becomes drudgery. It's not God's will that some people don't step up because they are lazy, or because the position seems to already be filled.

I can hear what you're saying..."but if I don't do it, it won't get done." I know because, that's what I've said, but really, God is capable of bringing others in to do the work, isn't He? If it's something He wants done, He will provide the worker. Maybe we just have too many projects going.

As for me, I have learned when to say no and when to say yes. I've learned to identify those things that God wants me involved in and those things that are not where He wants me. That doesn't always make others happy, but I believe it makes God happy when I'm not overloaded and angry about doing way more than my share of work while others just sit.

So, what are your thoughts on this matter?

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(Copyright© 2012 Jan Christiansen. All rights reserved.)