For it is not the one who commends himself who is approved, but the one whom the Lord commends.
2 Corinthians 10:18 (ESV)
I’m coming to the end of my time in a student ministry I’ve been involved with for almost eleven years – seven in my current capacity as an equipper of student worship bands. Preparing to leave has been a bit harder than I thought it would be, although I know it’s the right time to step down.
It’s been a struggle. A struggle of the mind and heart and emotions. It’s been a struggle as I wonder how I should say goodbye to people who have meant so much to me. Or even wondering if there is a need to say goodbye (I am not moving away, just moving into a different place of service . . . somewhere). “Low key” is good counsel, I believe.
And it’s strange to say goodbye to all the work and effort and times of great struggle and prayer that have so shaped who I am today. To mistakes and looking at myself in the mirror and realizing so often that I was wrong. To times of great victory, times when the ones in my care finally “got it” and began to open up to God without fear. To harder times when they didn’t, and the year ended, and things were left unsaid and growth didn’t happen and lives were left unchanged. I fear that I never got through to some of them. And sometimes I was the one who didn’t grow and didn’t change. Ministry goes both ways.
It is goodbye to the joy and privilege week in and week out of equipping students to lead worship. It has been amazing. There were times when the worship was “Spirit and Truth” worship and that was just incredible. Some relationships have been built that will last a lifetime. But all of these students, the ones that I still know well and the ones that I never see these days, will stay with me, in my memory and my heart as I see or hear of them growing up, getting married (this has already begun with the students from the first few years), having children. Most of all there is a great sense of satisfaction to see them continue in their relationship with God. That’s the best thing.
I was a lay-leader, not a full time minister. Well, “was” is too strong a term – I still “am” for the next week and a half. Others ministered full-time and had even more invested in the lives of these precious students. I’ve been continuously amazed by the pouring out of themselves into student’s lives by so many workers I know.
So I’m left meditating on this passage: “. . . it is not the one who commends himself who is approved, but the one whom the Lord commends.” At this point, here at the end, I’m so scattered emotionally that I don’t know what the final verdict – the only verdict that matters – will be on this work. To be honest, I’m realizing more and more in these last few days that I’m a broken individual who comes equipped, as so many of us do, with all the battering rams of ego and flesh and a bent mind and baggaged heart slamming, slamming, and slamming away. It makes me tremble to think about it. Lord, may it be shown in the end that You were the one doing the work.
I’d rather be knocked down
Than to be knocked out
So I’ll let go of what I know,
Of what I’ve learned here in the past [seven] years
My heart is frozen with meaningless motions
So I’ll hold onto You
And all that I’ve done
I hope that it counts
– Knocked Out by Bleach
Lord, it’s been amazing. It’s been awesome. I just can’t come up with words to thank You for letting me do this for so long. And Lord, I hope that it counts.