We were working on naming a retreat for the middle schoolers at my church, last week. We’re behind schedule (because the pace at EBC is crazy right now…so many great things happening at once!) and needed to land on a title everyone liked pretty quickly so that branding could commence, marketing copy could be written, webpages and registration could be built, and promotions could take place. I had come up with 10 or 15 name options, and the middle school pastor was stewing over two of them. She’s relatively new on staff and said to me, “I’m so used to taking time to pray about this stuff. Then the Lord would just give me the name for a message series or a retreat and I’d run with it.” I was taken aback…and convicted…by what she said. She walked away saying, “I’m gonna go spend like 4 minutes asking Jesus about this.”
When I was new on staff, I attended the 2012 Global Leadership Summit where we received this:
On my first full work week, I pinned this to the board behind my computer monitor. I got to work a little bit early most days so I could pray this prayer. I would even jump on the YouVersion app to see what God had to say to me, that morning before I dove into my projects. I remember working on a few of my first writing projects, where I’d stare at a blank screen and in my mind, I’d be praying to God to give me inspiration, to give me words that would resonate with people inside and outside the church, to communicate whatever message HE wanted. You guys, I was SO grateful to finally be working in ministry. I can’t even explain it. I’m STILL so grateful. But I’ve been reminded of how God was such an integral part of my job at the start. And in the fast pace, the urgency, I’ve stopped inviting Him in. Don’t get me wrong…I pray for patience. I pray for stamina. I pray for peace and clarity of mind. But then I run out of quarters. And the vending machine breaks down. And I kick the side until I tire out.
The prayer card is now in my file drawer. I don’t even remember when I put it in there. Or why. Probably no conscious reason at all. But I can tell you this. I am grateful for that interaction, last week. I needed it. It’s so obvious that when you work for a church, you need to invite God into it. Right?! I mean, really. Here’s the deal: We’re humans working for a supernatural cause. We’re going to muck it up and make it a lot tougher than it needs to be. Because that’s our nature. I’m grateful for the grace and forgiveness God gives in times like these. And for the divine intervention found in interaction with other believers.
Next time I’m staring at a blank screen, instead of only considering what words will specifically grab the people who have to approve the copy in order to move the project along quickly, I’m going to pray it out. Back to how I started. Even when we’re two weeks behind and the clock is ticking. It’s worth it. It’s absolutely imperative.
He has me here because He has something to give through me. Not so that I can shine based on merits of my skills. He gave me those skills, for pete’s sake. It’d be an abuse of those gifts to use them without Him, spinning my wheels in the mud, exhausting myself, when he’s standing there watching, twirling the keys to the tow truck on his index finger, eyes closed, head shaking side to side, smirking at my silliness.
These words won’t be my own. They’ll be His, through me.
Whatever it takes. No excuses.