"I never thought I would wind up in this position!"
The expression may refer to depression, doubt, burnout, pornography, moral failure or a hundred other surprising situations. Somehow life and ministry carry us to places we never wanted to be or even thought possible.
It happens far too often. We enter ministry with a passion for the Lord, then long hours, criticism, high expectations, even too many good things coming too fast overwhelm us and sweep us to a place we never intended to be.
If you think it can't happen to you, you are already in a dangerous place.Still Waters
I love fishing for trout in the mountain streams of Colorado. Trout live in constantly flowing currents, which at times rage and threaten to sweep them through rapids, over waterfalls and off the mountain. The currents can carry them to places they never intended or desired to go.
To survive, mountain trout have learned to find quiet waters, behind a log or rock, or in a pool off to the side where the currents don't flow. The trout cannot change the currents, but they learn to survive in them. In the quiet waters, the trout renew their strength before re-entering the currents.
We live in currents, as well. Currents are always there and sometimes raging, threatening to sweep us to places we never expected to go. Sometimes the currents we face become so familiar that we forget how dangerous they can be.
There are personal currents, family currents, cultural currents, organizational currents and ministry currents. What currents most threaten you?Still Trying
One of the major currents threatening many of us in ministry is the current of expectations. So many people want so much from us. Most of the time these are good people, but they will take everything we have to give—and more. We often begin to own other peoples' expectations, and we fall into the false thinking that we are called to meet everyone's needs and fulfill their desires.
Tape this phrase to your bathroom mirror: There is a Savior, and you're not Him! Expectations can overwhelm us and take us to very dangerous places.Isaiah 28:12-13
says:He said, "This is the resting place, let the weary rest"…but they would not listen. So then the word of the Lord to them will become: Do and do, do and do, rule on rule, rule on rule; a little here, a little there so that they go and fall backward, be injured and snared and taken captive.
They are swept to a place they never intended to go!Be Still
So what's the answer? Like the mountain trout, we need quiet places to renew our thinking, our strength and our direction. We need times of rest. Many of us don't even know what that means anymore.
We need time to play! The best definition of play is: an activity that serves no purpose. Think of children playing with their dolls and trucks.
We need time to be with our Lord. We need to talk with Him but even more to listen to Him. The more we struggle against the currents of life, the less time we spend with our Lord.
You will not change most of the currents you face. You must learn to survive them. Do not let them sweep you to the places you never intended to go. Find quiet places regularly! Spend sufficient time there. You are called to swim against the currents of this world. You can—if you learn the lesson of the mountain trout.