June 18, 2013

The Best of Times, The Worst of Times

It's been the best of times, it's been the worst of times, this life in ministry. God has been constant, good, and faithful. All of my best times have been wrapped up in Him.

But I haven't been constantly good and faithful. Ministry is typically the best or the worst of times depending on me--my attitude, my actions, my responses. And if I'm aware of God's consistency, goodness, and faithfulness to me.
Here are the worst things I've done, when ministry has been the worst of times:
  • When I've tried to negotiate a different circumstance from God
  • When I've compared myself with others
  • When I've competed with others, if only in my mind
  • When I've looked at what's not going well rather than what God is doing
  • When I've just gone through the motions and not allowed God to check my heart
  • When I've blamed my husband for any difficulty in ministry
  • When I've looked for affirmation and approval and even encouragement from others 
  • When I've held on to resentments instead of forgiving
  • When I've ignored the Holy Spirit's nudging 
  • When I've just pushed through rather than resting
  • When I've said yes to something only because I know someone wants me to
  • When I've focused on tasks rather than relationships
  • When I've daydreamed about leaving ministry 
  • When I've judged people who are different than me
Here are the best things I've done, when ministry has been the best of times:

  • When I've surrendered to God's calling on my life rather than fighting it
  • When I've recognized and used my spiritual gifts 
  • When I've been consistent in reading the Word each morning
  • When I've celebrated how God is using others
  • When I've sought to understand God's love and grace for me
  • When I've given myself grace
  • When I've trusted the Holy Spirit's power in me
  • When I've loved people (and given them grace)
  • When I've allowed people to see me cry and question and struggle
  • When I've brought outsiders in
  • When I've invested myself in others through discipleship
  • When I've asked the hard, uncomfortable questions
  • When I've gone away with my husband
  • When I've opened up my home 
  • When I've asked more experienced women for help or wisdom
  • When I've thought of myself less and considered others more
  • When I've said thank you to those who are laboring alongside us
  • When I've shared the gospel
There are likely many more experiences and lessons to come, but I know now that my attitude, my heart, and my surrender to God are at the core of it all. When I am resistant to God and my heart gets hard, it is the worst of times, but when I am moldable clay in the Potter's hands, it is difficult because of the self-death it requires, but it is always the very best of times.

What are your "best" and "worst" things?