Letter from the Editor: Why I quit serving in church

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woman sitting on wooden bench, letter from the editor

Are you sick of all the new year’s articles yet? Or the pressure to choose your word for 2018? I know I am.

I do love the idea of having a yearly focus or a goal—I even came up with a few goals for myself for 2018. But I think what troubled me this year was the focus on all the doing

The exercise, the diets, the projects. Even from a spiritual perspective with the conversations surrounding what people needed to add to their plates in order to grow closer to God.

Let me say clearly that I definitely do not look down on those who are taking on more this year. Especially when it comes to their relationship with God. When we see areas in need of improvement in our spiritual lives, it’s only logical and healthy to take steps to grow. So no, I absolutely don’t think there’s anything wrong with people challenging themselves to read the Bible more or memorize more scripture this year.  

But for me, I grew slightly overwhelmed when I thought about adding more to my spiritual plate. As it is, my husband and I are serving at church every Sunday and leading high school Bible studies. I’m in the midst of learning how to show Christ as a newlywed (We can still call ourselves newlyweds nine months into marriage, right?). And we want to minister out in our community more.

Do I really need to add a word to focus on, too?

The more I thought about it, the more I realized I was burnt-out from trying to perfect every area of my life. Which is why I couldn’t think about adding more on my plate.

And so I decided to quit something instead.

I decided to step off of the church ministry team I had been a part of for three years. I know, quitting an area of serving in church seems like a step in the wrong direction. But I realized what my focus needed to be, at least for the next few months. Which is to not focus on as much.

This decision doesn’t mean I’m no longer serving in church. In fact, I strongly believe God requires us to serve as members of the body of Christ. While I’m still serving in different areas, I knew it was time to step off this team when I felt guilty for ever saying no to anything asked of me.

And I worried that if I did not always say yes to these areas of service, then that meant I wasn’t acting as a healthy member of our church. Or people would see me as selfish and a Christian who didn’t put her actions where her words are.

Now I must point out that those I served with and the leaders of my church in no way stress this mindset that I had fallen into the past few months. Obviously there’s an emphasis on serving, but my legalistic mindset was the result of taking on too much and kicking myself for ever saying no. I’m not exactly sure how my mindset of serving in church became legalistic like it did. I truly do enjoy serving. But once the burnt-out set in, it was difficult to escape my own judgement of my attitude.

When I made the decision, I realized there’s no easy answer to how often I should serve in church. Because it’s not about how many hours I serve or the number of different ministries I’m involved with each week. It’s not about feeling accomplished or thinking God needs me.

Serving in church is about seeing needs, helping to fill those needs, using my gifts given by God and glorifying Him during the entire process.

The people of the early Church didn’t serve each other and God to check off a box. They didn’t serve so they could feel good about themselves. They served because there were needs and because they had strong desires to see the Church grow. And that’s what I want my attitude to reflect.

Now, I realize it’s OK to admit I need to take something off my plate. It’s OK to admit I need rest in my schedule and a change in my routine. God’s not offended. The church won’t suffer.

During this rest in my schedule, I’ll be praying about different ways to serve and the right attitude to have while serving. Because this isn’t a cop-out to not serve in church. It’s the act of obedience to God’s promptings, even if that means stepping off a ministry team.

And it’s the acceptance that sometimes God desires our rest more than our busyness.     

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14 Replies to “Letter from the Editor: Why I quit serving in church”

  1. This is so important! Thank you for being honest and vulnerable. Guilt to say “yes” is like a plague. We all know where that guilt derives from. Satan knows if we are overloaded, we can’t do any one thing well. Which makes us lose our effectiveness to help advance the Kingdom. It’s so important to be aware of and set boundaries for yourself. Good for you! And a great reminder for us all! <3

  2. Sometimes when you step back your allowing someone else to take a step up. It’s always a good thing to reevaluate and know that there is a season for everything.

  3. I’ve been there, too! I remember after my 2nd baby was born I needed a reprieve from being so active. Now, I’m able to serve some from home by doing some administrative tasks.

  4. This is an area that I have personally struggled with. I don’t do much within our church ministries however I’m a full-time Christian mental health therapist and I write my blog. Both are meant to glorify God and grow His kingdom. I know I need to continue to seek God’s counsel and not be concerned with the thoughts and opinions of others.

    1. It can be a tricky balance when your work outside of church is a ministry and service. It’s so easy to get caught in the legalistic mindset of how often or where we need to serve so that it “fits” into the area of service. Thankfully, God is more concerned with our hearts and how we follow-through with our actions!

  5. Sometimes we free ourselves to serve God more by doing less in the church building. Then when we see someone crying, we can go over and pray with them and spend an hour with them because our lives aren’t so cluttered by official positions. Instead we each build each other up.

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