Today I lost my desk chair, my work computer and my office. My name has been erased from the bulletin as the leader of the youth ministries at Cornerstone and the website will no longer direct all inquiries about youth ministry to my personal email. I’ve gone from being Beta Wolf to being Gamma Wolf.
Our church has been waiting excitedly for quite some time for our new Associate Pastor of Family Ministries, Curtis, to join us. My internship has about eight weeks left before I pack up and move to Kentucky to attend Southern Seminary. During these eight weeks of overlap, we’ll be team-teaching our youth group as he gradually takes over the helm of youth ministries.
As I’ve gone from being the director of the youth ministries to someone working under the director of youth ministries, I’ve been forced to wrestle with a question of ministerial identity the last couple of days. Do I define myself by what I do for the kingdom, or by the kingdom itself? Or put another way, do I find my identity, standing, and joy before the Lord in what I do for Him, or in what He’s done for me? Am I working for my kingdom or the Kingdom?
Sin is seductive and my heart is wandering, naturally turning its gaze from the Giver of all joy, all purpose, all meaning, all fulfillment, and all blessing to the things He has given for me to enjoy but never worship. And that can include ministry. It’s easy to build a kingdom. It’s much harder to remain dedicated while working for a Kingdom where the glory isn’t yours to have and hold. Oftentimes ministry begins with the best intentions, but jumps the track of worship into self-worship by failing to be ruthless with your own motives.
Curtis’ arrival has been a good heart-check. If there’s any resentment, if there’s any “my turf” mentality, then ministry has become an idol and I’m finding my identity in what I do for the Lord rather than in the all-sufficient atonement found in the cross of Christ. And anything other than finding my identity in the work Christ has done for me is idolatry. Thankfully, that has proven not to be the case.
It’s also a good reminder that I am entirely dispensable. God’s work in others’ lives is not dependent upon Nate Brooks ministering to them. People come, people go, and God works on. As the traditional “Who Will Weep When You Leave?” SLS Retreat Saturday morning message says, our job is to carry one brick in the lives of those around us. God is building a house of sanctification. It is He who does it, and He chooses to use his frail and battered creatures to aid in the process. But we’re not often called to be there for every aspect of construction. Our job is to faithfully carry one brick so another can lay yet another piece of clay on top of it.
I don’t think anyone is happier to see Curtis come than I am. Leading the group for the last year has made me painfully aware of my own glaring shortcomings as a teacher and a leader. My grasp of the Bible is limited, my ability to counsel shallow. I’m excited for them to sit under a man who can give them what they need much better than I can. And it’s exciting to commit them to the grace of God, knowing that He is faithful to complete in His children what He’s been faithful to begin.