Choosing the Write Path

 

2013-03-13 02.48.54

After breaking down from ministry overload, I started really questioning my priorities, and over the past few months I’ve had some definite impressions: Maybe God wants to fulfill me in ways I never dreamed, not only by making my love my life’s work, but also my mode of ministry. I’m talking about writing, of course.

You see, something I’ve been struggling with since I’ve been staying home to write is balancing my “work” life with my ministry life. I’ve tried setting goals for myself, such as writing twenty-five hours a week…and I can’t explain why accomplishing this has been so hard when I don’t technically hold another “job.”

As I’ve been praying about this, God has suggested some reasons for the difficulty: I’ve been too controlling of others, I’ve taken it upon myself to provide for others, and I’ve allowed myself to get pulled from my writing to do jobs that I really shouldn’t be doing. This ranges from using my daily writing time for ministry emails or phone calls to saying yes every time friends suggest an outing. Lately I’ve also recognized a danger of losing all focus on my work because I get too involved with other people.

I have struggled to place my work time above “people” time—it’s become hard to sort out when to say no and when to say yes. My hubby always encourages me to go for the people time: “Take a break!” he says to his chronically busy wife. But after several months of frequent “breaks,” I feel I’m too often setting aside work. I’ve been documenting my writing hours each week, and sometimes I’m struggling to even reach ten or fifteen. Lately I have the added challenge of being short on energy due to pregnancy—so my “usable” hours have shrunk. I literally don’t have energy to do as much as I used to.

So, I am forced to choose.

The things I do are all “good” things. Building ministries, building relationships, writing an inspirational book. But I can’t do it all. What should I do?

I have some other impressions, I think, telling me I have to focus on my work right now. Because it might be my calling. It might be the single most significant way I’m meant to minister to others. If this is true, therein lies the answer to my work/ministry balance. My work is my ministry.

Right now while I’m still unpublished (bookwise) it’s hard to see it. The fruits of my labor are not yet tangible, as they are in my prayer ministry, church choir, and former Bible study. I see no immediate return. This is where faith comes in. What if Noah had given up on building the ark during the 120 years before its use?

For now, I am praying for God to give me more faith. I need clarity and insight, too, in case I am misguided about what God really wants me to do. I need to know for certain if these impressions about writing are my true calling—and then, if they are, I need to resolve to walk in the path God has placed in front of me. That is, if God has appointed me to write for my life’s work and my ministry, I need to stop being distracted by other “good” things, and let him bring forth fruit where I’m most fertile.

“Look straight ahead, and fix your eyes on what lies before you. Mark out a straight path for your feet; stay on the safe path. Don’t get sidetracked; keep your feet from following evil.”

(Proverbs 4:25-27, NLT)

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11 thoughts on “Choosing the Write Path

  1. Kate July 23, 2013 / 5:54 pm

    I love this, Lindsey. I feel the same struggle. I have a job (though for the summer, it is writing curriculum – not teaching), but I felt The Lord tell me in the fall to free up my schedule. It took my about 8 months to get the courage to quit my 2nd job, without really knowing why. I thought it was to be more involved in ministry (and it might), but I really felt like He spoke to me in a few ways that it is my writing He wants me to focus on. It felt strange – for all the reasons you said (the Noah analogy is perfect). And to set aside time to do it feels gratuitous- like it’s a hobby, not necessarily a call from God. So, I am working for the balance too – especially when the face-to-face people ministry and relationships are so important too. I started blogging again this summer almost as a response to the call, b/c I just needed to get the pen/keyboard moving and let God fill the page (eventually, I hope).

    I will pray that you find clarity and God confirms His call in your life! I believe (as I’m sure you do) that the ability to communicate is so powerful! And I’ve been praying that I use this gift wisely and to His glory – which is another challenge, too!

    Thanks for sharing your experience.

    • lindseygendke July 23, 2013 / 6:52 pm

      Kate, I appreciate you taking the time to respond at length. It is so powerful to be able to identify with the same struggles others are going through. I remember about a year ago praying about what to do with my life–get my doctorate to teach or stay home to write (and maybe have a family) were the things I was considering. I remember specifically telling my prayer group that the doctorate would be “easier,” because it seems more definite (even a PhD, though, can seem “gratuitous if you don’t have a “career” attached afterwards). I was praying for courage NOT to do the “safer” path, and it was a really hard decision. And even after I decided not to do the PhD, I still have waffled and second-guessed myself. I think it’s definitely a daily surrender to God, asking him what he wants. Thanks so much for the prayers; that is the best thing anyone could do for me, and I will pray for you, as well.

  2. Angelica Belle July 23, 2013 / 7:32 pm

    I know where both of you are coming from. I’m a professional writer, but I’ve only started using my writing as a ministry this year. I used to think that serving other meant doing things I didn’t enjoy–as if that made it more holy. But I wasn’t giving of my time with a joyful heart. I was resenting every minute of it. How lame is that? God finally got through to me. He’s so generous with us that He allows us to serve Him through means that truly make us happy. How amazing is that?

    • lindseygendke July 23, 2013 / 7:36 pm

      Wow, thanks for your perspective in the conversation. “I wasn’t giving of my time with a joyful heart”….boy, that’s a familiar feeling. I very much relate to the resentment you bring up, and while some of it has been my own personal problem (needing an attitude adjustment), I think God does want us to use the specific talents that he gave us to serve him. It IS amazing when it works out that way, and I’m so glad you’re getting to experience that! All best to you!

  3. spiritualsandwich July 23, 2013 / 9:53 pm

    Following my ministry burn-out, I decided to do nothing for a couple of years. Since then I’ve decided to embark on my own ministry outside of church life – so at least I can go at my own pace and be able to minister to people outside of the church rather than those within. I stopped ‘doing’ and stood still. I realized how much I too had focused on doing for other people, and I had left no time to replenish myself. So I rested, and let God take care of what God takes care of – either way, if I don’t do it.. I trust that God will find a way.

    • lindseygendke July 25, 2013 / 6:05 pm

      Thanks for your perspective. I think you embellish on an important point–the need for rest and replenishment. I’m not sure I agree with going totally outside of the church, although the idea IS appealing sometimes. Maybe it just depends on where a person is in life. My main circle of acquaintances revolves around my church family, so I see the church as my outreach target right now. But I guess as long as you don’t give up on going to church, moving your ministry outside of its walls is great…after all, we are called to seek and save the lost! Blessings to you in your ministry!

  4. mlanestudio July 24, 2013 / 8:08 am

    Dear Sister in Christ,
    First and formost sacrifice your time to God. He wants His tithe. I am not talking about a monitary tithe, but a tithe of time as an offering to God. This might include a time for the church proper, it might include a time for the music. You have to balance all of these. Then He will give you what you desire.
    I love children’s minstry. I love God. I have learned that to do my passion, the children I have to spend time with God. We use a prewritten program for both our weekly mid week and our VBS program. There is always room to take it beyond the day or weeks lesson and still stay with in the bounds of the plan we are using.
    I do not do nursey or Kid’s Church on Sunday. Sunday is my day to worship the Lord. There are plenty of women who do not do through the week or in the summer VBS. I have had to pick and choose what I will do. But it all hinges on my time with God daily.
    It is never easy to pick and choose. I had to do it when I was still working full time. I wanted to do it all. Give to God what He desires and know that He will give to you your desires because they are His desires. He just wants your full attention.
    I pray I have not stepped on your toes. Please take this in the spirit it was offered. A reminder if you need or a lesson if you need. I have not clear idea what your walk with God is. However what I have read leads me to say these things and I do say them in love from our Lord and Savior. Have a really blessed day. By the way-I hate to write and I know God has imprssed on me to write my blog and I have, like Jonah tried to get out of it. I am not always as obediant as I should be.
    Lots of Love from a Sister in Christ,
    Margaret

    • lindseygendke July 25, 2013 / 6:00 pm

      Hi Margaret, No worries; you have not stepped on my toes! You are right about tithing to God. I am still working through all of the issues brought up in my post, and I am still a bit confused. I know I can’t do it all, but I also know I must maintain my daily time with God, first and foremost. Sometimes when I am the most confused, it just helps to sit with God in the morning and worship, and ask him what he wants me to do for the day. I totally agree with tithing on my time, so I guess I need to find a healthy way to do that–outside of work time. I think part of the problem is that some of the “tithing” activities for me had turned into more like fulltime activities…and I know God doesn’t ask more of me than I can do. Thanks for taking the time and concern to leave this thoughtful comment. Blessings to you!

  5. jeanettesliving July 24, 2013 / 1:38 pm

    I loved this, and being on a path I am unsure of right now. I so can appreciate everything you have written. Just take a breathe, and not only listen but learn to hear. It gets you just a bit farther.

    • lindseygendke July 25, 2013 / 5:52 pm

      Thank you for reading, Jeanette. Sounds like we are in a similar boat, so best wishes to you, too, as you navigate life’s divergent paths!

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