For five years I was a part of a large and thriving ministry. During my last two years at that ministry I traveled across the country helping lead worship at their youth conference for several thousand teenagers every weekend.
It was a rush, all the time.
But something happens when you leave a place like that. It turns out that changing the world is actually pretty addicting. You feel important. You feel like what you do really matters. And when you leave, normal life just isn’t good enough.
I had to leave that ministry because I was trying to marry the piano player (which I did!) and therefore needed to find a job whose pay included more than “eternal rewards”.
From awesome to loser overnight.
So I left, as did the rest of the band. I moved into a mid-sized city near the ministry because I had a couple of connections there.
Unfortunately, there isn’t much of a climax to this story. Life felt pretty dull.
Being part of such a huge ministry made everything you did feel important. When chapel speakers would visit campus and talk about being a “world changer”, there was a direct connection. It felt immediately applicable. But when I left, I sold satellite TV systems from a booth at Sam’s Club.
You know that guy that tries to get you to come to his table and buy his lame product while you’re trying to shop? Yeah, I was that guy.
Christians love to quote the verse, “Whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God” (1 Cor. 10:31). It’s our way of saying that no matter what you do, it matters if you do it with a worshipful heart and a good attitude.
It sounds nice, unless “whatever you do” feels a whole lot like nothing.
The highs, the lows and the in-betweens.
So what is it that I became so attached to at that big ministry? Was it the transformation I saw every weekend in the lives of thousands of teens? Was it being surrounded by other passionate young Christians who formed a life-giving camaraderie?
Or was it something else?
Well, I’m sure it was a mixture of stuff. But a lot of it was that I was a part of something tangibly important. I didn’t have to think too hard when I thought about my self-worth.
I knew I was important because I got to do something few people had the opportunity to do. I saw fruit that few people got to see. I had conversations that few people got to have. Sure there were downsides, but ultimately, I knew I mattered.
When I left all of that I felt directionless for several years.
Then I decided to start a simple blog. And I’ve actually been pretty amazed at how it has been used to encourage people–in fact, thousands of people on more than one occasion.
And here’s what I’ve learned from the season of my life when I knew what I was doing every day mattered, to the next season of my life where I felt a lot less important at times, to this season where I kind of get a blend of the two.
- My self worth should come from God first and foremost.
This is a truth we know we’re supposed to say, but few of us really feel the weight of it (including me). My value comes from a Savior who died for me personally because He wants to be with me forever.
- HOWEVER… it’s also ok to feel important when you tangibly see the difference you’re making in someone’s life.
Whether it’s being able to brighten someone’s day with a simple encouragement, or writing an article that complete strangers email you about and say that it meant a lot to them. It’s ok to take delight in your work.
- But it’s not ok to feel important because you have an audience.
We always have to keep our motives in check. Why are you doing what you’re doing, and what is it that makes you so happy about it.
If it’s seeing the fruit of lives being changed, awesome! But if it’s the feeling of being known by lots of people, that’s a pride issue.
- So if you struggle with feeling unimportant, remember what God says about you.
Because we all go through seasons where we see no fruit, have no sense of direction, and have no idea what to do about it.
- But also, find a way to pursue what you love…
Ask yourself, “what is the thing I can’t not do?” And find a way to chase it with passion and discipline.
- …by pursuing what’s in front of you.
I don’t have the opportunity to play music in front of thousands of people anymore. And I was semi-depressed about that for several years.
But that dream has died. It may resurrect some day, but as of today it’s gone.
I can either wallow in self pity about it, or I can find a different avenue to do what I love. And that’s what I did. I decided to pursue what was in front of me, instead of wishing for my circumstances to be different.
I used to write and perform songs. Now I write articles and eBooks. I realized that I just needed an outlet.
- Because God has created us to create.
And you don’t have to be an artist for that to be true. Maybe you create systems that make production go more smoothly, or maybe you create fantastic meals, or you create connections between people who would have never otherwise met.
- And He has designed us to be proud of our accomplishments.
So there is absolutely no reason to feel bad about feeling good when you make something awesome! It’s how you were designed.
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