I have been thinking a lot about the purpose of this space and so I was doing some reading through some of my old stuff. As you know I recently realize that there were many people who just were reading things is a way that I never intended them. It has been a crazy week, and baby stuff has dominated most of it, but my thoughts of outside life have been here in this place. I am trying to weigh the positives with the problems. There is just an inherent problem with things that are written, especially something like this that I see as one long conversation, but that people can join in any one entry and suddenly see things without the color of the rest of the entries. I don’t know where I am going, but in my searching I came upon this entry and it reminded me of one of the reasons why I do this.
Growing up I never really thought of ministers as real people. When they would mess up I would think that apparently all that they said or stood for was just a pack of lies. I didn’t think about them as people who have flaws. As a minister I have this deep need to get approval from others, and I don’t think I am alone in this so I wrote this prayer to help others ministers who also struggle with this, but also to let people know that being a minister doesn’t make you perfect. I think this is one of my favorite posts of all.
I don’t really know why I want to put this up here, but I feel like it is something that I should share. I had some trouble with someone in the church yesterday. It was small and really not that important, but I let it eat at me for most of the day. That is what was happening when I wrote this. This is from my prayer journal. I have changed some of it to keep things anonymous and to help it make a little more sense. It is still just what was coming out of my head so the sentence structure isn’t that great. But for all of the youth pastors out there (and anyone who works in ministry for that matter) I have found that the biggest trap you can fall in to (or at least my biggest trap) is basing my life off of the approval of others. It is a struggle that I have been fighting with for most of my life. So here is my prayer.
God, I don’t know what to do, but I do know that in my heart of hearts I want to follow you. I am tired of these sorts of things coming up so somehow I need to learn that I have you and that is enough. Somehow I need to learn that my self-worth isn’t defined by what other people think about me or anyone else for that matter. But I’m not exactly sure how to do that. It sounds real good in a book and it sounds real good in a sermon, but when it comes to really putting it in practice I don’t know what I am doing.
You see right now instead of praying I am worried about what someone else thinks about me. I am trying to find arguments to counter all of their wild propositions and I am trying to justify myself. I want to be seen as right and that is more important to me than…what? Than anything?
I think that is the truth. I don’t care about much, but I want to be seen as right. That is what is most important. Can I give that up? God, can you give me the strength to let that go? Will I even give it up for the sake of my youth? I don’t think so. It is so much of who I am.
Alright God here is the truth. I don’t need to be right all of the time because you are always right and I belong to you. My constant need to justify myself and desire for everyone to think I am right just makes me miserable and it also limits some of the more daring things that I could and should be doing for your name and to show people that you love them. I am never going to be able to convince everyone that I am right. I am not always right.
I don’t have the strength to live like these things are true on my own. On my own I don’t have the strength needed to live without the applause of others. God, for all of my life living for the approval of others has been my drug. I am so addicted that I can’t see myself letting go any time soon. I need you! I need you to help me to let go of this.
Here is the truth, I want to get rid of this stuff. I know that it is hard, I know that it might hurt, but I am tired of being a slave to the approval of others. I am tired of basing my identity on what they think about me. God, I need you. I want you to be the one from who I get my feelings of self worth. I want you to be the one who speaks truth into my life. I can’t go through my life being defined by what others say.
I know that I’m not ready for this. I know that I am not strong enough to make this happen. I also know that without you I can’t do any of this so I, with reservation, am telling you that I want to change. Lord I believe; help my unbelief.