The Courage To Change
edited: Thursday, August 30, 2007
By Sheritha Bowman
Not "rated" by the Author.
Posted: Thursday, August 30, 2007
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I stepped down as pastor.
No, I didn’t have an affair with the deacon or the minister of music. No, there were no drugs or alcohol involved nor did I swindle funds from the church’s bank account. No, none of that. I stepped down because I believe I made a wrong turn.
Several years would be spent preaching, teaching, searching, believing, doubting, slipping and falling, yet all the while hiding an intense desire to step away from the pastorate. At a point, I was the most depressed on-fire woman pastor you ever did want to meet. You wouldn’t know it though. Because out of the depth of my pain, I preached like there was no tomorrow.
Once I stepped before God’s people on Sunday mornings, it was no longer about me. It was about ministering the salvation and hope of the Lord. And every time I moved forward in faith, God would grant me a new level of spiritual restoration and rejuvenation. The words the Lord gave me to speak would cleanse my very own soul and give me just what I needed to press on. Yet, it was those moments in between where I would find a spot to curl up and cry out as if Jesus had never spoken a word. Oh, what a challenge it was to rock back and forth between emotions. Yet, in spite of it all, the Lord kept me.
Stepping away as pastor was one of the most difficult things I’ve had to do in all of my life. For the longest, I had struggled with reasons and voices; straining to make sense of it all. The word of God says that, “…he goeth before them, and the sheep follow him: for they know his voice.” (John 10:4) Recognizing the voice of God is one thing; obeying His voice is another thing entirely.
Joyce Meyer once stated in a sermon and I paraphrase, “You know it’s the voice of God telling you to do something if you have peace in it. If you don’t have peace, then don’t do it.” I believe that. Yet many of us sometimes dismiss the lack of peace or unsettling as fear creeping in. That’s what I did. I confused spiritual conviction with the emotion of fear. And the last thing we want is to allow fear to overtake us or stop us from doing what we believe the Lord has called us to do. Thus we rebuke what we consider to be fear and move forward into uncharted territory.
So often we spend time over-analyzing a matter, when deep down inside we know we already have the answer and what it is we should or should not do. The decision I knew I had to make to step down ended up running into overtime. Despite what my mind continued to try and rationalize, my spirit knew better. It would soon become a matter of choosing spiritual life over spiritual death. I was living a lie. And because the Spirit of truth dwells in the believer (John 14:17), the Spirit cannot dwell comfortably in the midst of lies. A believer’s spirit will eventually weaken under the pressure of trying to serve two Masters: the God of truth and the devil of lies. My spirit continually hungered for truth, and eventually, I would choose to be obedient. I would choose life.
Once I moved past being afraid of the unknown and into the place God was beckoning, I experienced a peace, freedom and settling in my heart and spirit like I have never known. The confirmation of God was astounding. In the days and weeks that followed my stepping down as pastor, God opened many doors, improved so many relationships, and presented me with great opportunity for my writing ministry. It was unbelievable. Just from being obedient.
There are too many believers living lives they were not called to live. Yet due to pride, feelings of obligation, embarrassment, ego, and even money, they dare step away. I believe it is time for every born again believer to come to terms with their true purpose. Are you truly walking in your God-ordained purpose? Are you laboring in a position that was never intended for you or was over for you many seasons ago? Ask yourself the hard questions and be courageous enough to receive the answer, but obey the truth you receive.
And yes, it's true . Often the serious decisions in life leave us with feelings of discomfort; we feel awkward and we want God to fast forward the moment. Yet, we must endure. We must endure every emotion, all of the pain, embarrassment and every lesson that will undoubtedly be learned from the experience. God doesn’t intend for the experiences to destroy us, He means for them to make us better.
Today I’ll see folks around who will ask, “Do you still have the church?” or former members will see me and say, “I miss SICM.” For a moment, feelings of melancholy will surface as I think of all of the awesome moments and memories that were birthed at the church. Despite my choices, struggles, and missteps, I believe God still used every moment of the journey for His glory. Today I stand stronger and wiser. Beautiful, long-term friendships and invaluable life experiences have resulted from the journey. I regret not a single day and praise God for giving me the courage and confidence to face the truth and move forward in my rediscovered purpose.
You may be reading this and realize you’re living a life that God never intended for you to live; you know without a doubt God has called you to another job, career, ministry or out of a relationship, but you feel stuck. You feel as though there is no way out. Well, let me tell you, the devil is a liar! You have been liberated through Jesus Christ.
The Bible reminds us in Romans 8:1, “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.” We sometimes allow the enemy to condemn us with our thoughts and the words of others; there is no condemnation to them which are in Jesus Christ. As long as we have breath and are walking after the Spirit, we have the freedom to pursue our God-given destiny without guilt or shame. God is a God who allows missteps and even mistakes. He allows us to fall and get back up time and time again!