I’m back in the States. It’s bittersweet…glad to be back with my family, but very sad to leave my Mexican familia. A post dedicated to last week is in the works, and it will be posted very soon. Right now, I want to chat a bit about something that God has been working with me on and teaching me.
I know, I know. I’ve written about this topic a lot. I mean A LOT. It seems as if I never learn. Or when I think I’ve finally learned my lesson and come to a place where I’m content…something else happens. Boo.
Anyway, I’ve struggled with contentment in a lot of aspects in my life. Everywhere from careers, relationships, to school and beyond. Now, I’m dealing with it in a whole other aspect: ministry.
If I was reading that last statement in a “third-person” kind of way (which would just be weird), my first thought that would pop in my head would be, “WHAT IN THE WORLD is she talking about? You’re not supposed to be content in ministry. You’re always supposed to want more…to strive for more.”
In fact, that was my philosophy up until Wednesday afternoon. I thought that if you were content in your ministry, then obviously your time is up and it’s time for God to bring someone else in. WRONG answer. (Yeah, I just admitted I was wrong.)
You see, I think I was mixing the definition of “contentment” up a bit. The definition of “content” is : ” fulfilled, happy, cheerful, glad; unworried, untroubled, at ease, at peace, tranquil, serene.” I was confusing that definition with the definition of “complacency” which is: “self-satisfied, self-congratulatory, self-regarding; gloating, triumphant, proud.” Yeah, was I ever off the target more?
There’s a big difference between those two. Notice how the definition of contentment is all positive (i.e. unworried, cheerful, fulfilled) and the definition of complacent is an “all about me” attitude (i.e. self-satisfied, gloating, etc). The moment you become complacent in ministry is the time when you need a serious reality/heart check with God. But it’s not wrong to be CONTENT in ministry. In fact, Paul addresses this very topic when he’s giving some practical advice to Timothy about how to persevere and endure testing as a young Christian leader (in fact, who cares if you’re young or old…this practical advice is good for everyone).
The specific part of scripture I’m referring to is 2 Timothy 4:2, 5.
“(2) Proclaim the message; persist in it whether convenient or not;
rebuke, correct, and encourage with great patience and teaching….
(5) But as for you, keep a clear head about everything, endure hardship,
do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.”
Wow. When I read this, I had the feeling of God just slapping me in the face with His sweet and true words. (Anyone else ever had that feeling?) You know the feeling where you know this is what God has been trying to say all along, but I just never got it (or I chose to ignore it), so He’s just kind of like “Ok, let me literally spell it out for you”. I’m so thankful for his patience and techniques. :)
Anyway, the part where Paul is telling Timothy to “fulfill your ministry” really just hit me hard. Notice the definition of contentment includes the world “fulfilled”. When, you fulfill the ministry God has for you, you are content. Content whether or not it is “convenient or not (i.e. verse 2)”. Wow. This is something that really hit my heart. You see, I told you in my post when I came back from Mexico the first time about “getting God’s vision and His heartbeat” — missions. And the mission field in which I’ve fallen in love with is Mexico. But God has me here. In the States. In a little town which I’ve grown up in my whole life. He has me in college, in a school I’m not particularly fond of. He has me here, away from the people I feel so connected with in Mexico. People who have stolen my heart.
I should be, I want to be, I literally ache to be in Mexico. It’s where I feel as if I belong. It’s the place where I feel like it’s become my home.
But He has me here. Here being NOT in Mexico.
I struggled with God. I really struggled with Him on His reasoning to have me here when everybody else tells me I belong in Mexico, when my heart literally hurts from being away from Mexico. He has me here when it makes no sense to my physical and even spiritual eyes. (I’m being completely honest here.)
HE HAS ME HERE WHEN I DON’T FIND IT CONVENIENT OR PLEASANT TO BE HERE.
He has me here when I DON’T WANT TO BE HERE.
Yep, He still has me here.
I’ve asked God why? I’ve asked others why? I’ve asked myself why? I hadn’t gotten a legitimate answer until our patient and gracious God, whom in spite of my selfishness, tantrums, and stubbornness, showed me His sweet words in 2 Timothy: …”FULFILL YOUR MINISTRY.” Fulfill it whether it’s convenient for you or not. Fulfill it whether or not if it’s what you want. Fulfill it.
God is calling me, teaching me, and pushing me to learn this lesson. I must fulfill the ministry He has for me HERE before I can run off and do it somewhere else. I have to learn to be content HERE before He’ll ever allow me to go somewhere else. It all comes back to being HERE. My mission field is HERE for the time being. I have to be content with that. Why? It’s simple…God is God and I’m not. He knows what’s best for me, He knows the whole story…all I see is my little piece of this giant puzzle. It’s not easy, friends. Believe me it’s not easy to accept that God put you in a place where you really don’t want to be. But it doesn’t matter if it’s easy or enjoyable…God called us to fulfill our ministries. He didn’t ask us to be okay with WHERE our ministry is or even WHAT our ministry is…He just called us to fulfill it.
Maybe this is all old news to you all (in a sense it is for me too, because I knew this all along, I just didn’t want to accept it or take it to heart until now), but this is what God has been laying on my heart the last couple of days, and I just had to share it with you all.
No matter who you are, where you are, you MUST find what ministry God has called you to and you MUST fulfill your ministry WHERE He puts you. If we don’t, think about what people might miss out on hearing the gospel of Christ because of our selfishness and discontentment. Think about that.
Like I said, it’s not easy, friends. I still want to be back in Mexico, but I’m learning to fulfill the ministry God has given me HERE — because only when I learn that will I ever be content.
One day, God’s going to bring me back to Mexico. For how long…I don’t know. But I know that one day i will have a ministry in Mexico (for however long God decides to grant me with). One day…
BUT I can’t continue to live in the “one day mentality”, I have to live in the “fulfill your ministry HERE not THERE mentality”. It can’t mean I can’t miss Mexico or still look forward to being back there one day, but the key word is LOOK FORWARD to being there and not trying to regret or complain about being HERE.
Whew. It’s a tough journey, friends. Tough. But I have a patient, loving, gracious Saviour who is holding my hand throughout it all. And for that I’m so thankful and forever in awe of who He is…in spite of all I am. Thanks, God, for being HERE with me. :)