Welcome to week 3 of the blog series, “Are You Robbing the Sheep.” It’s the 3rd week and the third area in which we unknowingly Rob the Sheep. Today’s blog is written by Pastor Andy Maldonado, I meet him 3 years ago and we connected instantly. He’s got over 30 years of ministry experience, and has become an amazing good friend and mentor. I love his honesty, and in this blog he’s going to share some insight that will help you flee from the “Dark Side of Ministry.” Take it away Pastor Andy.
We’ve all heard the saying “there’s a light at the end of the tunnel.” My question has always been “what am I doing in the tunnel and that light is that a train headed for me.”
Not that long ago I found my self in a dark tunnel, a very dark tunnel. It was a physical, emotional and spiritual tunnel with no “light” in sight.
How did I get in that tunnel? Glad you asked!
My view of ministry and the neglect of prioritizing my life were the culprits that got me there. It all started out so well.
I was full of energy and vision. I had a boatload of passion and ideas. I was going to change the world for God!!
BEWARE OF SUCCESS
The enemy had other plans though! He lured me into one of his most effective traps…..success! The pastoral ministry that I served in was a high visibility and influential office.
I had responsibility for producing services as well as all the education in the church. I was at the lead in Sunday services, at the head of the midweek service and taught several 13 week courses in our adult education school. During the week I help lead a staff, designed mission, developed vision and implemented strategies for the next 5years.
I WAS THE MAN!!!. By most ministerial standards I was hitting it out of the park. Grand Slamming it!!
All the numbers were great, I was receiving the “back slaps” from my peers and my boss gave me an office closer to him.
I guess so the the glow of my gifting could flow towards him.
What I did not realize was that in the middle of all that party something was eroding in my heart, mind, and body.
I AM BROKEN
I kept up that pace for 7 years, taking on other areas of responsibility along the way until one Tuesday morning I couldn’t get out of bed.
I spent the entire day on my bed in a fetal position crying and wanting to run away from everything I said I loved and believed in.
The next two years was spent in recovering the “the man!!”
After many months of counseling, praying and crying over my failure. I discovered several principles that have now become values by which I evaluate my ministry and my life.
Let me just briefly share them with you.
- Discovery #1: What I “do” (ministry) does not determine “who” I am
My value as a person could never be found in my ministry, job or title. My worth is found only in who God says that I am. My calling is to be a Chist follower first and foremost. Jesus is the fountain from which all my ministry flows. My relationship with Him is central to my life. I cannot afford to trade who I am in Christ, for what I do for Christ!!!
- Discovery #2: I will not “do” ministry 24/7
My schedule came under submission to the Holy Spirit and to my family. My wife and I together made out my weekly calender. In that scheduling time was made for church (ministry), health (gym), romance (date night) and just plain rest.I rested not just from labor but also from people. We called them “going dark”. No phones, emails. We practiced solitude. Which brings clarity, and refocus of purpose.We made the calender work for us not the other way around.
Note: if you have children get them to have input into your schedule.I did not ask my boss’ permission to do this. It was my responsibility to meet ALL my commitments
- Discovery #3: I will not do ministry by myself
This is not just about “teams.” It’s more about accountability for my life and ministry. I asked 3 of my closest and most trusted friends (1peer, and 2 men older than me) to keep me accountable.They had access to my calender and I surrendered to them the right to ask me the “hard questions” about my private life, (including my thought life), my prayer and study life.I know some may say well how do they know you’re telling the truth? I also gave this “right” to my wife!!! She had all access to my world. I hedged myself into a protective environment in order to protect me from those dark tunnels in my life.
RESTORED, SORT OFF
It’s been 4 years since those dark, gloomy days. The Lord has restored me to even greater ministry opportunities in a much larger church with 100 times more challenges.
I have never abandoned my lessons from living in that dark tunnel. Those strategies along with God’s wonderful grace have helped me to minister and help others navigate their tunnels of life.
Some of you are reading this and saying “it could never happen to me.” Others have already entered that dark abyss. Never under-estimate Satan’s tenacity and NEVER underestimate the delivering power of Our God.
Enjoy your Growth!!
“Thank you so much Pastor Andy for your insight… Recently I spent 3 days in the hospital due to neglecting my health for the sake of other responsibilities. This blog has helped me see where I need to make corrections and adjustments.”
What dark tunnels are you facing, and what strategies do you have to get you out of those tunnels?