Occupational Hazards of Full-Time Ministry

IF Last month over 25,000 women spanned the globe and live-streamed IF: Gathering. I was one of them. Nestled in my little family room with 3 other women, we joined thousands of like-minded, soul-searching, God-aching, purpose-driven, kingdom-bringing sisters. It was glorious.

But I had my doubts.

Just before my guests arrived, as I cued the webcast and brewed coffee, I paused and spoke to the emptiness. “God, I need this to be different. I need you to show up for me. I cannot handle more of the same. I am way too bored for that. You know this. But you are worth the risk. I am begging you. Show up!”

You see, I have been a bored Christian for a really really long time. And if I were to put my finger on its genesis, it would be somewhere on the mission field. Something about becoming a professional believer seems to truncate spiritual intimacy. In fact, I will probably never attend a women’s bible study again unless God twists my arm (wink* now I know he will!) I struggle in church, I wince at Christian radio stations, I want to de-friend the Facebookers who quote verses every day. This is what boredom produces.

But despite my institutional boredom, I have rediscovered Jesus elsewhere. On good days, when I am pursuing the end of sex trafficking, I walk with him into darkness and experience his compassion for the broken. Ministering to the marginalized, I am reminded that I am also broken and in need of a savior. He has sustained my faith and reawakened a spiritual intimacy, but I long for more. I long for a tribe. And I long to experience him in corporate worship, through preaching that isn’t on TedX, and among the pulse of authenticity.

So I held my breath and hoped.

Boredom is but one result of professional Christianity. It’s evil twin is cynicism. I have been walking alongside a recently returned missionary who struggles with the latter. Our heart desire is so similar it is crushing. In my boredom and against her cynicism, I have enough hope to believe more awaits us.

I have seen and tasted enough beauty in the voices of bloggers and authors and speakers to know it is true. They are laying their raw messy life on the cutting board of life, exposed and lovely. Their humanity points to the dignity in all and the brokenness we share. The humor or sarcasm or prophet-bearing words with which they serve up truth is searing in its conviction and yet tender. How can God spank and hug at the same time?

And how does he endure our yawning and jaded bitterness? We are but angsty teenagers whose stage is hopefully ending. Lord have mercy! Yet he waits. And changes tactics. And occasionally disciplines. He surprises and teases.

And he always shows up.