by Anna Maschmeyer
A ministry family seems to either exist in the assurance of their mission and longevity of their position or in a state of uncertainty and desire for transition. My ministry family recently took a leap and moved to a new church and city across the state. Transition means many things in the ministry, but for me it meant an opportunity to move in faith into untried territory.
For years I served the church as pastor and volunteer and taught full-time in a public high school. It was the most rewarding and exhausting life. The students are apathetic, curriculum is challenging to implement, assessments are labor intensive, actual learning is complex to assess, and federal and administrative regulation is exhausting. I loved teaching, but the all-encompassing nature of my pastor life and my teacher life took everything out of me.
Roughly three years ago, I began to pray for a better way to do life. I wanted to devote more time to our family and serve the church in a healthier capacity. Our family deserved more of me than it was getting. I intensely wanted to reserve the best of me for my girls, husband, and church. As I sought the Lord for a way to accomplish this, two things became clear. First, God spoke deeply into my heart that my calling was not about my career, but about being more like Him. I had preached this for years. Yet suddenly, it wasn’t just something to say. Jesus did not need my effort at school, my worries over the job, my time preparing lessons and grading; He needed my heart. My job was distracting me from giving Him my full attention. I was in essence serving two masters.
A year ago, we began thinking about transition to a new position. One of the things I wrote in my journal as we began to pray over the transition was, “Lord, I want to be free of the classroom.” I was not trying to be a stay-at-home-mom. As a driven, independent woman, I champion college and career ambition for my female students. So I looked for a position in a school, but out of the classroom. I thought just being out of the classroom would be enough.
When we relocated, the timing of the move meant teaching jobs were not available. As I’ve sought the Lord and explored options, more and more I was called to walk away from my career to be more like Jesus. Since August, I have started teaching our oldest to cook and do laundry. We finally have a regular chore schedule (something I never had time to put together before) for all three girls. My husband and I have been on a date every week since we’ve moved. I've written a 5-week Sunday School curriculum and taught it. The girls and I have had deep conversations about real things like politics, Jesus, and how to make friends. A couple of times my husband has asked, “Who are you?” because I am not falling asleep on the couch at 7 PM or cranky for no reason.
Don’t get me wrong, many of those things I listed above happened in small doses while I was teaching. My girls had chores; we did homework together; we read at night sometimes. My husband and I did date. Our family was not falling apart, but there wasn’t the structure or purpose in our home that I wanted. It was good, but not great. I had two masters constantly pulling me in different directions. The message is that there are good things we can do in our lives and there are God things. Our family was doing good things, but the God things were being squeezed out by exhaustion, stress, time, and mess. Although the budget is tight, I have not been this happy, nor this at peace, in a long time.
The lesson I am learning is that discerning His will is seldom about finding a place or a career, but it is always about becoming more like Him. Peace is there for us when we finally submit every area of ourselves, including our careers, to His Lordship. Our obedience even in the anxiety of transition makes us more like Jesus.
QUESTIONS: What have you learned in a ministry transition? About your faith? About yourself?
by Majetta Morris
A fellow children’s minister approached me in the foyer of our church to ask if I had a baby puppet he could borrow for a ministry engagement. I told him I didn’t, but as the discussion continued, I learned a doll would be appropriate. I informed him I had a life-sized baby doll I use as Baby Jesus at Christmas because it is newborn infant-like. He assured me that he would only need to use the doll during the month of July and it would be returned well before Christmas.
“I don’t need Jesus during July,” I informed him as I walked away. When I saw the aghast looks on bystander’s faces, I immediately realized the faux pas. I turned back blubbering and stumbling over words as I tried to backtrack and rephrase, “I mean, I don’t need the Jesus doll during July.” The damage was already done! The words already said! Others in the vicinity were either staring open-mouthed or laughing aloud.
I’m ashamed to say that sometimes my attitude says, “Jesus, I don’t need you today…or this month. I can handle this by myself.” I plan my day so full of all the things I want to do for Jesus that I fail to ask Him what He would like to do with/through me. Sometimes I go so intensely through my day without realizing that the expression on my face or the acerbity of my speech is telling others that I don’t think I need Jesus to go with me that day. The negative side is that it usually multiplies into more than just one day. It becomes an unintended vacation from Jesus.
It is easy to get so busy working for Him that our relationship with Jesus is put aside; or we take for granted that He will just come along. To start the day, we may have even taken time for a quick devotion to tell Jesus how He can meet our need for the day, instead of asking how we can worship and be with Him throughout the day.
Each day I need to intentionally invite Jesus not to just follow me around, but to walk beside me and before me, allowing me to follow in His steps. Throughout each day, I talk with Him as a friend. I cannot ever go a day, let alone a month, without Jesus. I need Jesus every day in July and every other month! Not just at Christmas.
Majetta Morris, a licensed minister with the Assemblies of God, began her first Sunday School teaching assignment when she was twelve. With husband, Wayne, and daughters, Scarlett and Keena, she ministered throughout the southwest U.S. in Kids Krusades for ten years before going to Okinawa, Japan to minister in schools, churches, and the local community for a total of sixteen years. After retiring in Springfield, MO in 2007, she began professionally editing as a freelancer at the request of a friend. Majetta loves reading, writing, crafting, teaching, and editing. Contact Majetta at firstname.lastname@example.org for assistance to publish your writing projects.
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