There is no job security in the Kingdom. Jesus promised we'd have both trouble and blessings. He said that we could ask and receive. He told us not to be fearful or anxious. In fact, Jesus had a great many things to say to his followers–but not once did he guarantee tenure to those who were doing Kingdom work.
If we truly want our efforts to have a spiritual impact, the where, when, and how of that work must be left entirely up to God. Yet all too often, extended service in volunteer leadership can result in spiritual value being derived from works rather than Christ.
This is not to suggest that there aren't innumerable ministry leaders out there who approach their task with reverence. In some cases a volunteer leader could even serve for decades and be a shining light for the Lord. Nevertheless, a time will come when the torch must be passed. Has this person raised up new leaders? Has she prepared the team to continue on without her? Or has a hint of pride crept in between the accolades? Perhaps there's even a secret fear that she will be forgotten.
It is vital to the health of any church ministry to understand that the Lord may call his leaders on to something completely different at any moment. When this moment arrives, there must be a willingness to release the reins to those who have come up after us and step aside. Should we resist and dig in our heels, we enter into the dark territory of worshipping the ministry rather than the Master. We have taken ownership of God's work.
It was this very territory that I had ventured into unawares.
The Danger Zone
After months of working shoulder-to-shoulder with the women's ministry leadership team as they healed, visioned, and strategized, the time had finally come to help them implement their plan of action.
By collectively resolving to take turns being the point person on a specific initiative while the others offered support, they were each given the opportunity to spread their wings as leaders.
Their first attempt out of the gate was a day of prayer and fasting for the children in our church and local community just before the school year started up. This was something completely new and the key leader was understandably nervous.
The team kept in continuous contact with her, offering valuable insights and support, while I guided her through the various "checkpoints" of planning and executing this type of project.
The day arrived and we had a fairly good turnout. But the tendrils of a critical spirit had begun to creep into my thoughts. A couple of minor things weren't as organized as I would have liked. I wanted it to be run a certain way. I wanted it to reflect well on the women's ministry.