It wasn't until I began attending my new church that I realized much of my ministry life has been directed by my own ideas and capabilities and not by total reliance on God. I have always endeavored to "do good" or to "lift a helping hand." While my motivations were inspired by my love for God and people, I often signed up for ministries and assignments based on my desire to help out or because someone asked me. I was a people pleaser, so instead of seeking the will of God for my life, I did what was expected of me. I often allowed my bleeding heart to say yes without counting the cost. What did that lead to? It led to a burned-out lady who was tired, frustrated, undependable, and exhausted.
All of this continued for years until I met Pastor Lyons. At first I was really excited to hear his teaching. I could so resonate with the topics and I was so excited to hear good biblical teaching; that was until the messages started stepping on my toes. We have all had those moments when we've felt that the preacher was just preaching right to us. At my church, the messages feel like I just had surgery; I know I will be better for it in the future, but when I walk out the door I am in pain (and the praise and worship didn't provide enough anesthesia to numb the pain). I feel I have been sliced, diced, and exposed at the same time. One night after Bible study, I walked out feeling overwhelmed. I said to the pastor and to myself, "I quit...it's too much...I can't do this."
In a few days, I came to my senses and thought, "Exactly...that is exactly the point. I can't do this. I can't do this on my own. I need God. I need the Holy Spirit working in and through me." I was trying to do things in my own strength, but that's not God's design. I'm sure my pastor thought I was crazy. Was I really having a meltdown at church over the Bible study lesson? Yes. Yes, I was. However, I needed that moment. I needed to realize that I'd been operating in my own strength, power, and intellect. Certainly there were times when I called on the Lord and asked for his help, but I must also admit that there were times when I didn't even consult him. Sure, I was committing to positive or "godly" things to do, but was I doing what God wanted me to do? Was I walking in the will of God? Was I obeying God or was I obeying man?
When I planned a program, spoke on a topic, joined a ministry, did I even stop to ask God? I certainly asked many other people. One day Pastor Lyons told me that I needed to be careful not to be a victim of my intellect. Excuse me, Pastor? It was the most corrective but timely word I think I've ever heard. People have told me not to overthink things and to use my heart instead of my head. While I know listening to my heart is very important, my analytical mind will not allow me to follow my heart only. However, when I heard the words "don't be a victim of your intellect," I felt it was an indictment. It was an indictment that I needed to take seriously. I had to process it slowly. I had to search my mind and my heart: What is he talking about? This isn't me. Or was it? Step by step, God started showing me how my first instinct is to do things according to what I know. He revealed to me that I operated with the gifts and talents he's given me, but I sometimes fail to consult with him, the "champion who initiates and perfects our faith" (Hebrews 12:2).