“…Though the righteous fall seven times, they rise again…”
(Proverbs 24:16a NIV)
I recall a time when I was in my 20s and dove headlong into volunteer church ministry. At one point I was the Assistant Youth Leader, Youth Activity Director and an assistant Sunday School teacher. I burned out so bad I thought I’d never recover.
Couple days ago I read the following Facebook post from an awesome Christian band called Filthy Rags, and they are the inspiration behind this blog. The post stated:
“Not feeling it today…lately I feel like a coat hanger on the stage. We dont seem to be connected to our audience as we once were.
“We’re at the wall.
“I (don’t) spend my money on (promoting the band). I spent it and all my time leaving the 99 for the 1. I’ve got 2 months left on this tour… I’ve just gone dead… depressed… defeated.. numb. ABBA, forgive me for my weaknesses. If plays, charts, and merch sales make up my value I’m a goner.”
Unfortunately, many of us can relate to that. If not the “music” stuff then CERTAINLY the feeling of just going through life’s motions. I think everyone handles this differently, but please humor me for a few minutes while I give you my thoughts on this.
Since we see through the lens of human eyes, it’s so easy to set them in the wrong places at times. I’ve been writing this blog almost three years, but at one point I complained to my wife, Laura, “I’m killing myself here, and sometimes the number of readers I have is in the single digits! I worked for two years on my book and in six months I’ve sold EIGHT COPIES?! Are you FREAKING kidding me? What am I doing wrong, baby? Maybe I should just quit, I’m 52 years old and this is going nowhere.”
Laura is, thankfully, more patient and wise than I am, and said, “Hon, this is not for the MANY, it’s for the ONE.”
That rocked me, and has become a driving force in everything I do.
When I turn my calling into a numbers game, it stops becoming about God and starts becoming about ME.
To the many friends of mine who are in Christian music ministry, please note that, while this doesn’t apply to record labels who may demand sales, ministry is NOT a numbers game. It’s not about the number of new likes on your Facebook page this week or how many t-shirts you sold at the last show. It’s not even about how many people showed up.
No, it’s about that ONE person who watched your lyric video on YouTube and thought, “Wow, maybe I don’t have to kill myself. Maybe I CAN make it.”
It’s about that one young lady who had an abusive dad and a crappy ex, and decided people just aren’t worth the effort. But maybe you took five minutes with her, and gave her a glimmer of hope.
Maybe you made all the difference. Maybe you saved her life.
It’s about the drug addict who was at the point of no return, or so they thought, until they heard your story of how God helped you kick drugs. Now they’re thinking that perhaps their situation ISN’T hopeless.
I get it; you’re worn out, burned out and frazzled.
Maybe try shifting your focus for a few minutes. Go see a cool movie, or hang out with a rambunctious toddler for an hour. They don’t give a rip how we feel, they just wanna share their energy with someone. They wanna shine their light on us for a spell. They don’t need results, they just want our love and attention for 10 minutes.
We get our eyes off of Heaven sometimes, and forget what’s important. We feel worthless, like a failure, but success isn’t measured by human standards.
“Success,” at least as it should be defined in ministry, is simple: did you follow the path God laid out for you today?
Did you do what you felt you were supposed to do, despite the number of people who responded?
God gave you a talent; did you use it today? Did you get outta bed and do your thing, or did you slump back into your recliner and watch another episode of “The Office?”
If you carried on, if it was “business as usual” for you, whether or not you seen any results from your limited, human eyes, you’re a success.
You’re a warrior and don’t you doubt it for a SECOND.
God is cheering for you, He’s beyond proud of you, and don’t you forget it.
While you’re fighting burnout and bitterness, somebody you don’t even know is benefiting from your efforts…
And you won’t even hear about it until you get to Heaven, and when we are kneeling at the feet of Jesus, you won’t care.
So for my Christian kin in Filthy Rags, please let me reassure that the 99 may not appreciate all you do, but the ONE you spent your money, time and efforts on will be eternally grateful. We’re all just cogs in the wheel, but YOU may be the difference in someone’s eternity, and no amount of sales can top that!
To sum it up, please remember what I always say…
In the name of Christ, never give up, never give in, never surrender!
“Oh the joy and oh the pain / I know that You’re inside this rain of life / And You’ll never leave me alone, no.“
“Decrease” by Filthy Rags