Praying Through Surrender
Surrender. The Lord wants us to surrender; surrender, and surrender some more, until we are fully relying on Him. Beautiful things come in that conceded place; peace, relief, lighter loads, comfort, joy, sometimes even better sleep. But, often, the journey to submit to full reliance on Him can be bumpy, aching, and tension-filled. We experience this journey in many areas of life. We experience it in our fears and anxieties. We experience it in life-giving and draining relationships. It can be hard in our desires to strive for perfection and status, and in letting go of the things that become idols to us. We experience it in leadership and vocation.
This month is National Pastors and Church Leaders month. I am certain you can quickly list those who have influenced your life and ministry. Leadership carries some serious weight with it. After bearing the weight of leadership for extended periods, I have often heard leaders say they dream some days of mowing lawns for a living instead, or serving a role with less burden. I get it, I’ve been there and I’m sure I will experience those lawn-mowing day dreams again one day. Having served the role of a Kids Director, Missions Director, and Outreach/event director in local churches, I can relate to that weight. As I’ve continued to study God’s Word and watched and learned from healthy leaders over the years, I could do a “top 10” on things to do to stay healthy as a leader. But, I’m nixing the “Top 10” and sticking with the one I’ve seen most effective: surrender. There it is again; surrender.
All eyes are on you to lead people. Whether we put them on ourselves or they are put on us from others, expectations exist for you to direct, feed, and save those that walk in to your church. No pressure. Constantly living in that kind of pressure is not healthy. The tension exhausts us, drains and causes us stress. The weight is real, no doubt, but carrying that burden alone is not what we were designed to do; hence the exhaustion. Jesus says to come to Him and He will make our burden light. He says He will help us to walk freely and lightly. I find relief in these promises.
A few years into my time of ministry at a local church, some surprising leadership changes were made that were difficult for me at that time. In the midst of these changes I felt hurt, insecure, frustrated, and confused. Instead of surrendering this season of change to the Lord, I let myself sit and marinate in a bowl full of anger and bitterness. This bred feelings of entitlement and giving no benefit of the doubt; not my brightest moment. It was not until God helped me see how tightly I was trying to grip and control the situation, that I started letting go and trusting that He was bigger. It was not until then that I was able to navigate this new chapter with love and understanding given to me by the Lord. He provided what I needed in a hard season.
Luke 11:9 says “So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be open for you.’ Jesus not only tells us we don’t have to carry these weights of leadership and of life alone, He tells us we can ask for everything we need. How beautiful is it that we have a God who wants a personal relationship with us? Just as we asked our parents to help us reach the cup on the highest shelf when we were kids, needed our teachers to guide and educate us as teenagers, or communicate what makes us feel loved to our spouses as adults, God wants us to ask Him and seek Him out for what we need on all things. This is how we live as healthy leaders who have been called to great things. Trying to go it alone is a recipe for disaster. The calling of the pastor is more demanding than humanly possible. Therefore, the wise leader spends as much time learning to surrender as they do trying to solve their own problems. Asking, seeking, and knocking is a full-time job unto itself.
God has placed a great calling on Pastors and Church leaders. The lives that walk in your door are worth the work. The influence you have to not only grow the local church to which you have been called, but also to help other churches multiply around the world, is compelling. But, Jesus tells us to lean into Him, ask Him for what we need, seek Him out, and SURRENDER to Him. He then promises that the door will be open for us. (Note: We don’t open the door, Jesus opens it). If you spend your time trying to break down doors, you will become exhausted trying to do something that only HE can do.
Be encouraged Pastors and church leaders, not only is God using you in world changing ways, He is with you every step of the way and will never leave your side. He is your biggest cheerleader, encourager, protector, provider, friend, father, and Savior. We all surrender to many things, the wise church leader makes certain that laying our calling at the feet of Jesus is primary.
My father, who pastored for 38 years, has said, “The person who can stand up to the demands of ministry leadership has first bowed low to the one who called them to that function.”
Director of Global Church Development
Passionate about the church and the people she’s been called to serve, Andrea has spent the entirety of her professional career in ministry. As a director at Mosaic Christian Church, she built the missions program into a sustainable, focused endeavor and developed the Kids Ministry into a thriving environment for children to encounter Jesus. From leading trips across the world to leading pre-k volunteers, Andrea has seen the very real impact of the local church on a given community, and it has only stoked her passion to see God’s lost children come home. In addition the her role at Stadia, she helps lead Gail’s Girl and is intentional about building others up to be all that God designed them to be. If she’s not at hip coffee shop working, you can find her at a spin studio, exploring Baltimore’s freshest restaurants with girlfriends, or in Pennsylvania spending the day with her family.