Have You Lost Your Fire for Serving the Lord?
Have you ever had a God-given passion? Have you ever started pursuing that passion with the skills God gave you, only to have someone or something discourage your desire and diminish your abilities? Have you ever lost your fire for serving God?
I Used to Be On Fire
You may or may not know, I used to blog a lot more often. (I mean, this is my first post in years, so yeah, a LOT more often.) I started bloggin in 2012 after my son was born, and I wrote here about my faith and new motherhood. Before becoming a mom, I worked at churches for about 10 years, so writing online was the next season in ministry for me. I wrote on my blog and posted on social media. That evolved into speaking and bible teaching and writing some more.
I loved it. I loved encouraging others online. I loved praying and pondering and sharing what God put on my heart. I loved driving all over Southern California speaking to groups of moms about depression, overwhelm, body image, and rest. This eventually lead to a partnership with some amazing women in my local community and the creation of The Breathing Room, a night of worship and teaching where women could gather in the presence of God and find room to breath. And I loved that, too. Most of all, I loved pointing women to Jesus.
I was on fire for the Lord. I was on fire for ministry. I was passionate and driven to preach His Word and serve Him with my gifts where ever He might lead. But things changed in 2020.
When COVID hit and the world shut down, I kind of went into online hibernation. It wasn’t just because of the pandemic, though that definitely played a part. Obviously, I couldn’t speak and teach like I had done before because everything had shut down, but I also took a huge step back from writing and posting on the internet. If you had asked me why I wasn’t writing online anymore, when it was something I had enjoyed for so long, something I felt called to do, I would have said I just didn’t have time. I had other responsibilities. I had a new ministry, a new calling. Plus, I didn’t have anything to say. But I realize now that wasn’t the whole truth. Honestly, I believed three lies that extinguished my fire and kept me from serving God.
Three Lies That Keep Us From Serving God
There are three lies that I believed that caused me to step away from my passion and calling. I don’t think these lies are unique to writing online or speaking or teaching. Whatever your passion, whatever it is God is calling you to do, I believe the enemy can use these lies to discourage and distract you, too. If he can’t keep us from Jesus, he wants to keep us from serving Him and furthering His Kingdom. Here are the three lies I think he uses to extinguish our fire:
- “You aren’t qualified.” Early in 2020, a woman I know offhandedly mentioned my family to me in a ministry context. I won’t give you the details of the conversation or situation because it doesn’t matter, but she basically insinuated that I would only be given a leadership position in ministry because of my family “connections.” At the time, it spoke to some of my most secret, most negative beliefs about myself: I am completely unqualified. I had/have no college degree, no seminary degree, and therefore, no earthly qualifications to teach or write or preach or minister. I had no reason to think that anyone would listen to me or hire me, nor should they. After hearing her comment, the narrative in my mind became this. “You have no business writing or speaking or being in any kind of ministry leadership position. You have no qualifications. Sit down. Be quiet.” The fire in me to serve God, to use my gifts for His glory began to flicker and fade.
- “You are just seeking attention.” Around the same time, another woman commented specifically about my presence online. She mentioned that I posted “kind of a lot,” and she had heard that bloggers often have “big egos.” Here’s the thing. I know this woman. I know her heart for Jesus and her love for me. I know her desire to uplift and encourage. She in no way meant to tear me down. The sneaky thing about the enemy is, he can use careless words to wound us. Her comments would replay in my head every time I had an idea for a blog post or Instagram story. I started posting and writing online because I desperately wanted to point women to Jesus. Period. But that means I have to get people’s attention so I can proclaim the gospel. These comments made me question myself, my motives, and feel ashamed of my calling. The narrative in my mind became this. “You are obviously seeking your own glory. You say you are trying to serve Jesus, but you are just feeding your own ego. Trying to gain followers online, an audience to look at you. Why are you even doing this? To become famous? To get attention? That is not honoring to the God you claim to love. If you really loved Him you would sit down & be quiet.”
- “It’s not worth the fight.” These personal experiences were combined with my observations of Christians online. As the pandemic wore on, I watched in horror as the family of God tore each other down. Passions rose. I read online posts and comments written with anger and spite, hate and disgust, not the fruits of the Spirit. I became increasingly fearful that those anger-filled words would be directed towards me. If I continued my ministry online, as I had been doing for years, how long would it be before people turned their venom on me? How long before hurtful comments would be posted for the world to see? How long before the internet mob came with their torches to burn me to the ground? And more importantly, how could anything I do or say be worth it? If I put in all the time, all the work, to serve God, and all I get is opposition and negativity, is it really worth the stress? Is any of it worth the fight?
One BIG, FAT Sneaky Lie about Serving
You may have noticed that at the core of all three of these things, one BIG, FAT lie is hiding: People are more important than God. This is a lie none of us like to admit we believe, but all too often, this keeps us from moving forward in our God-given calling. We believe people’s opinions are more important than God’s opinion, and if people think we are unqualified, then we must be unqualified. If people think we are seeking attention, then we should stop seeking attention. If people are going to oppose us, well, we will avoid upsetting people at all costs. The sneaky park of this lie, is when the people in question are Christians. It is easy to think the opinions of fellow Christians reflect the opinion of God, but that isn’t necessarily true. We have to be careful not to elevate the opinions of others, even fellow Christians, above the calling of God. I absolutely fell for this hidden lie, hook, line, and sinker. I feared men more than I feared God. I listened to the opinions of Christians rather than seeking guidance directly from God. So I sat down. I pulled back. And I let my flame flicker out.
Three Half-Truths About Serving God
The thing is, this big, fat sneaky lie isn’t all wrong. People ARE important (but not more important than God). And the lies those Christians told me weren’t all wrong either. They were half-true. And that is what makes them particularly dangerous…
- It’s true. We aren’t qualified. God is not in the concerned with our qualifications. He sometimes gives us experiences and education that He uses in service to Him, but sometimes He doesn’t. We don’t need experience or education to serve Him. We need Him. We need the Holy Spirit. We need to be in close relationship with Him and continue to follow His leading. Remember, He used uneducated fishermen to start His church. They weren’t qualified. They didn’t need to be, and neither do we.
- It’s true. We are seeking attention. No matter how you are serving God, no matter what He has called you to do, someone will be watching, and they should be. We want eyes on us, so we can point those eyes to Christ. We want ears to be listening to us, so they can hear us talk about Jesus. The disciples had to stand up and draw attention to themselves in order to tell people about Jesus’ life and death and resurrection. Attention isn’t all bad, especially when we can focus that attention on our Savior.
- It’s true. We will have to fight. It isn’t easy serving God. He never promised the path would be smooth and comfortable. No matter what our calling, we will have to fight. We may not have to actually argue with people (in most cases, we won’t), but we will have to fight against our flesh. We will have fight against supernatural forces. We will have to fight against distractions and discouragement. But we will not fight alone. We will be held and strengthened by our Lord. And the fight will be worth it when we hear Him say, “well done, good and faithful servant.”
Fired Up to Serve Him
Maybe this resonates with you. Maybe you have a fire in you to serve God in some specific way. It doesn’t have to be writing or teaching or speaking. It could be at home, in your community, with a neighbor, with a family member, at your church, at your job. What passion has He given you? Where has He placed you? Where do you feel Him pulling you to serve? Don’t let these three lies discourage or distract you. Recognize the truths behind them. We don’t need to be qualified to serve Him. Attention isn’t all bad. The fight is worth it.
Fanning the Flame of Service
If you feel called to serve God, ask him to fan the flame or extinguish it. Ask Him confirm or change your direction. Ask him to show you whether or not you should pursue this passion. He will guide your steps, if you seek Him and follow His lead. He did for me.
Earlier this year, someone called me asking if I would take a speaking engagement. I said yes without really thinking. I drove to the meeting wondering why I was doing this again. I asked God to make it clear whether or not this was the path He wanted me to pursue again. If writing and speaking was in my past, or if He was calling me back to this space. After my speaking engagement, a woman walked up to me and answered my prayer with clear direction. Normally, after a speaking engagement someone will say nice things. Something like, thank you, we really appreciate it, hope to see you again. But this time, it was like God gave her words to specifically direct my steps.
“Marie, you have to do this. Women need to hear these words.”
The final piece was support at home. I was talking to my husband one night, after the speaking engagement, telling him how I didn’t think it was time for me to serve God as a writer and speaker. I told him I didn’t have time, our kids needed me, it was just too complicated. He stopped me in my tracks. “No. We can figure it out. You should do this.” Welp, that settles that.
Protecting Your Fire for Serving
The comments that cut me down still replay in my head. The words I read online still burn in my eyes. Part of me is still terrified, and my little flame is still in danger. But what I’ve learned in the last three years is how to protect that flame. How to fan it. How to seek God and listen to only Him when it comes to my calling. How to compare the words of others to His Word before I act or shrink or pull back. How to surround myself with people who speak life over me, who want me to serve God with my gifts and talents in the right time in the right season. People who will push me forward or pull me back, only after prayer and thought and careful consideration. I have learned how to guard my heart against thoughtless comments that the enemy is using for His evil purpose, and not base my decisions or direction on such things.
If this resonated with you, I want to encourage you to watch out for lies that keep you from serving Him. Ask Him for guidance and direction. And once He has pointed you toward an area of service, protect that fire. Don’t let anyone extinguish it. Because that fire in your heart is for His glory, so let it burn, sister. Shine bright.