Can I Trust You with My Baby?
Another small step I took was actually letting go. I intentionally gave away pieces of the ministry that I had held onto so tightly, for so long. I remember handing over the monthly newsletter to an eager teammate. Being a writer and a stickler for grammar and spelling, this practically killed me, but I knew I had to die to self in some areas, so I started there. I coached her then let her go. The morning of the first event after she had taken over, as we were placing the newsletters next to everyone's plate, I glanced over it. Typos galore. I wanted to scream. Instead, I thanked her for her hard work, and after the event, we talked through a system that would make the next issue better. A dear friend even came up to me afterward and said, "I know this is killing you. I'm so proud of you for handling this so graciously." If she only knew how I was feeling on the inside. But it takes a long time to change a habit, to change an attitude.
Will You Even Notice if I Stop?
My final step put my team and the women in my church to the test. I just stopped doing some things that I had been doing for years. I knew one of two things would happen. Either no one would even notice and I would know I had been wasting my time; or someone—to whom that ministry mattered—would step up and fill the hole.
Both of these things happened. No one said a word about my weekly email no longer showing up in inboxes with the upcoming women's ministry events, so I never started sending it out again. And when there wasn't enough protein at one of our breakfasts (yes, someone actually complained about that…welcome to ministry), I told her kindly that she could bring it next time if she really wanted it.
It took me several years to get to a place of feeling like the women's ministry was not "Beth's ministry" but truly belonged to all the women of our church. By the time I handed over the reins, I felt as if I were ready to walk away because I had trained up many good women, who were serving in their areas of passion and giftedness, who had ownership over our mission and plans.
It turns out, I couldn't do it all myself. And I never was supposed to anyway.
Elisabeth K. Corcoran started and led the women's ministry at her church for ten years, then went on to other church ministry roles. She is the author of five books, including At the Corner of Broken & Love: Where God Meets Us in the Everyday (Westbow). www.elisabethcorcoran.com