A Note from Chris Adams: As we end 2016 and consider the year ahead, how is God speaking to you? Have you made some changes in your life during 2016? Some pleasant, some maybe not so much? What do you think of as you look at the year before you? Are you asking God NOW to prepare you for all He will do in and through you? This is a good time to make some decisions. In fact, here is a great blog post by Dr. Chuck Lawless: 10 Discipleship Questions to Consider Now for 2017. We have to choose to grow and then allow God to do it His way.
Today’s article is by Liz Steckel, the Young Adult Women’s Director at Prestonwood Baptist Church in Plano, Texas. She shares how God led her to look forward to a new year in ministry. As you serve and lead in 2017, what will you do to grow in Him and lead others to do the same?
Several years ago, my home church in Plano, Texas invited a motivational speaker to challenge our staff in claiming one word as their catalyst for the upcoming year. The purpose was not to perpetuate a “name it and claim it” mentality, but rather to provide a tunnel of focus as we prayed through where the Lord was at work within our church and city. In all honesty, my semi-skeptical, millennial brain thought the whole idea was somewhat silly, but I decided to give it a try and choose a word. I processed through a few ideas and landed on one verb: Pursue. I loved everything about it—the drive, raw momentum, and vibrancy it embodied. I remember asking our Global Women’s Director, Chrissie Dunham, what she chose, fully expecting a power-house word I would be envious of. She smiled, leaned over, and gently said with one word: Resign.
According to the dictionary, to resign is to surrender or yield all rights to an authority above you. To resign our lives and agendas for the sake of something greater is not a popular notion within secular or Christian cultures, where a “me” centered mentality is often perpetuated through platforms and programs. When I look at Scripture, however, I see Christ setting a standard greater than human security. He willingly resigned Himself to a cross so mankind could be reconciled to its Creator. He set the pace.
In 1 Corinthians 10:14, Paul urges the church of Corinth to “flee from idolatry.” He reminds them of their forefathers’ decisions, and how in Exodus 32, while waiting for Moses to return from Mount Sinai, the Israelites became impatient and ate and drank while worshiping a golden calf. Though they believed in the God of the Bible and followed His laws, their hearts and agendas were far from Him. What once seemed innocent became destructive. Thus, with the urgency of 50 voices, Paul urges the Corinthians to resign their personal agendas and flee from their present idols. This one word “flee” contains the same urgency seen in Genesis 39 when Joseph flees from the grip of Potiphar’s wife.
Something the Lord has shown me over the past few years is that what we love can easily become what we lust. What we once saw as a pure motive can become an identity-entangling trap where we trade what is holy for what is haughty. Leadership can provide multiple opportunities to cultivate leaders, develop strategies, and make disciples while all along you lose your identity in what you do. Eric Geiger and Kevin Peck recently posed these questions in their book Designed to Lead: “How can we tell if we are prone to committing ministry idolatry? Here are a few questions to consider…Do my prayers reflect that I am more thankful for the salvation He has provided for me or for the ministry He has given me? If my ministry were suddenly taken from me, would I still rejoice that my sins are forgiven?”
For many of us, this idol of title has become a real struggle. We find ourselves drifting from our initial identification as a daughter of the Most High into man-made labels of minister’s wife, counselor, non-profit CEO, speaker, women’s minister, stay-at-home mom, etc., and wonder why we panic when those labels seem threatened. When we refuse to live hands open with our ministries, families, and dreams, we become aggressive toward the very God who entrusted us with them. Though I thought Chrissie was crazy for choosing “resign” as her word of the year, I realized my naive nature missed the point all together. She wasn’t resigning her will due to defeat, shame, or a lack of initiative. She was resigning her will for His. She was choosing the better portion.
So this holiday season, as I unpack Christmas lights and decorate my mantle, I have decided to add one more tradition to the mix. I am choosing to grab a good cup of coffee, my nearest pen or laptop, and write a letter of resignation to the Lord. A letter yielding my ministry, family, and future to the authority of Christ. A letter reminding my spirit that God gets to call the shots, change agendas, rearrange puzzle pieces, and purge the ever-present idols from my life. I am quite confident this will be met with a mixture of joy and tears, but if I truly desire to become a woman who is single-focused on Christ, I must take steps to heed the warning of Paul, flee from my earthly idols, and embrace the truth that Christ has been and will always be enough.
Would you consider joining me in this as we pursue the Lord together?
Liz Steckel is the Young Adult Women’s Director at Prestonwood Baptist Church in Plano, Texas. A former graphic designer, teacher, and missionary, Liz loves ministering alongside women in the local church and surrounding community. She thrives on equipping leaders, teaching, and cultivating discipleship. You will find her on any given Saturday drinking multiple cups of coffee while working with Josh, her husband, on their first home. Their goal: don’t burn the house down.