It’s entirely possible to do God’s work without God, utterly likely that Spirit-breathed-ministry can morph into self-fueled-effort. This is the way of humanity and most Christian work as I’ve come to see it. Sadly, the same can be said of myself.
What started faith-only and desperate-for-Jesus slid subtly over time into action-driven and next-step-logical. And I’m just waking up to this reality after two years and a lot of blood spilt on the battlefield.
I look back through my journals from the early days of this journey and see pages and pages of prayers of the wild-faith-kind — experiences and proclamations and lyrics that drip of a soul steeped in daily communion. And it was from this place, this soul-alive-what’s-next-God place that a ministry was birthed.
And hundreds of thousands of dollars, multiple staff and offices, and hundreds of children rescued later, I flip back through my journal and recognize it’s been months, sometimes many months, between entries. I assess my soul and realize it’s more dry tumbleweed than tree planted by Living Water. And when I sit in the quiet, with phone and social media and next-work-crisis at bay, I recognize that the race I started hand-in-hand with Christ, I’m now running hard solo. I’m knee-deep and bone-weary in a workshop building something for God, without really acknowledging the presence of His Spirit.
And I don’t think I got here out of impure motive or willful deceit; I think I got here from believing that justice somehow depended on me, from lazy habits that led to imbalance, and from a blatant disregard for soul-care. And two years in, the weeds are beginning to creep into the crops. I’m learning that the harvest raised from putting my hand to the plow without the daily shouldering of the yoke of Christ is not at all what He had in mind when He called me to this field in the first place. He has always been about a relationship with me, and the opportunity to co-labor with Him is an avenue to foster that, not replace it. But it’s a slippery slope from one to the other.
And the tricky thing? The tricky thing is that I could probably get away with it for years (I hold the last two years as evidence). I could write and fundraise, speak on a stage, receive applause as an advocate who is “inspirational,” and taste continued success in the eyes of the world, even Christian circles. And you could, too, in whatever work you’ve been called to. And so could the pastor that you admire or the nonprofit leader you think walks on water or that Christian author you follow on twitter.
It’s a fine line between self-led in God’s work and Spirit-led in the same, and honestly, I wonder how many of us in the trenches or with the microphones don’t recognize we’re running hard in a race for Him which He never intended for us to run alone.