Two of my friends from the Proverbs 31 speaker team graciously said “yes” when I asked them to share a little piece of their breakout from She Speaks last summer. Our guest writer today is my dear friend Tracie Miles sharing some wisdom about what to do when ministry seems too difficult. Welcome, Tracie!
When I said yes to God’s call on my life eleven years ago to become a speaker and a writer, I didn’t even know what those things looked like exactly, much less what God had in mind. I knew it would require a lot of changes and be a lot of hard work and , but I assumed it would ultimately be rewarding, awesome and trouble free. Like a carefree frolic in a beautiful meadow where I just smelled the roses all day long. After all, when we say yes to God, life should get easier, right?
Although I had left some stressors behind by virtue of leaving my corporate job to pursue ministry, I soon noticed there were new stressors raging into my life – parenting challenges, new financial constraints, trying to figure out who I was, loneliness due to being at home all the time, unexpected marriage issues, extended family member illnesses and problems, and so on. In fact, it actually seemed like life got harder instead of easier. It was not only upsetting and disappointing but also kind of shocking.
After a while, I found myself grappling with a lot of internal questions, and maybe you have found yourself secretly entertaining these thoughts as well. Questions like:
If I’m following God’s plan and the leading of the Holy Spirit, shouldn’t He be protecting me and my family from trouble?
If I heard God correctly about His plan for my life, shouldn’t pursuing my God-inspired dreams be pretty easy? Shouldn’t He be opening doors for me at every turn?
I made sacrifices, gave up my career, took a huge pay cut, and devoted myself to my family and ministry – shouldn’t God reward me with a perfect carefree life now?
God is surely so proud of me for trusting Him and taking a leap of faith into ministry – ahem – and for all the hours and expense I’m putting into trying to build a website, market myself, get a book published, serve at my church, etc., shouldn’t life be easier?
I eventually realized that life getting harder when we choose to serve God is the norm, not the exception. The reality of that hit hard, and I felt frustrated and spent. It was in that moment I knew I was faced with a hard choice. I could give up, or I could God-up.
You’ve heard the term “Man-Up” before, right? It simply means:
- be brave or tough enough to deal with an unpleasant situation.
- to fulfill your responsibilities as a man, despite your insecurities and constant ability to place yourself in embarrassing or awkward scenarios.
- to start being brave and dealing with a difficult situation with courage.
This sounds like a great way to be – being brave and tough and just dealing with difficulties in stride and not letting any problem trip us up. But kind of unrealistic. The good news is that God doesn’t expect us to just “man-up” (aka, “woman-up”) when life gets hard, while pushing through our hard times in our own strength. He doesn’t expect us to put our heads in the sand and ignore our problems and emotions, while keeping a fake smile on our faces. He doesn’t require, much less expect, that we try to keep going like normal and never struggle with doubts, discouragement, burnout or frustration – in life, or in ministry. He knows at some point, we’re all going to feel like giving up, for one reason or another.
But He also knows that we each have the power within us to God-up because of who He is, not because of who we are. What God wants is for us to refuse to give in the enemy’s tactics, no matter what they are, and not let them keep us from pursuing our faith inspired dreams. He wants us to God-up – to rely on holy strength and power to be brave enough to deal with unpleasant situations, push past our insecurities, and start facing difficulties with courage and faith – so that frustration and discouragement don’t cause us to give up.
You see, whenever life gets hard, we can either give-up or God-up. The choice is always ours.
It is awesome and rewarding to serve God with our lives, but on friend, it will certainly never be trouble free. Yet, what an unmatched privilege it is for God to call us to serve at all, in the unique ways He gifts us each to do so.
No calling from God will ever be easy, nor will life. But every time we choose to God-up instead of give up, God will always show up. And that my friend, makes it all worthwhile.
Tracie Miles is a Proverbs 31 Ministries speaker and author who helps women grow stronger in their faith, learn to love who they are in Christ, and pursue the life of purpose God designed them for. Visit Tracie’s blog by clicking here.