by Sharon Hodde Miller
I thought I would grow up to become a psychologist. I had always wanted to help people, and counseling seemed like a great option. I left for college with a lot of certainty about my future. I would major in psychology and that was that. So I signed up for Developmental Psychology and began the work of fulfilling my destiny. I was ready to step into my calling.
What I didn’t realize until halfway through the semester is that psychology involves more than listening to people and helping them. If you want to major in psychology, you also have to do math.
As it turns out, I was not called to psychology.
Outside of class, I was becoming more involved with Fellowship of Christian Athletes. My faith was growing like it never had before, and my passion for God was bursting at the seams. That season of my life was like a spiritual rebirth, and it was then that I discerned a call to ministry.
A subtle shift
Although my calling was clear, it took awhile to figure out the shape of my call. After college I spent a year working for Proverbs 31 Ministries and learning the ropes of women’s ministry. Then I went to seminary. Then I worked as a college minister. Then I went back to seminary. Somewhere in there I began blogging. Over time, I realized writing was my ministry.
In the beginning, I started writing because I felt called. Writing was my sweet spot, the place where my gifts and my passions met, which was satisfaction enough. But over time, something inside me shifted. Instead of simply enjoying my calling, I began to crave affirmation in it.
My calling had become about me. Ministry, a calling that is foundationally about God, had become a servant to my own success and my pride. If I can make ministry about me, then no calling is immune. Even the best, noblest, and humblest callings are vulnerable to self-focus. Whether you’re a CEO, a social worker, or a stay-at-home mom, your calling can become about you. And when it does, it will shrivel your soul like a flower scorched by the sun.
About three years ago, I reached a breaking point. I had been writing and teaching for nearly seven years, but I wasn’t enjoying it anymore. I was a small fish in a sea of writers just like me, and the comparison was crushing me.
In the middle of that season, I attended a conference feeling desperate for a word from God. As luck would have it, I happened to sit with two women I looked up to. At the first chance I had, I unloaded my mess. I pleaded with them for some shred of advice.
Both women were silent for a number of seconds, and then one of them answered me plainly: “Your ministry, your writing, your calling—it can’t be about you.”
She was right. Exactly right.
SOURCE: Christianity Today
Sharon Hodde Miller, PhD, is a writer, pastor’s wife, and mom of two. She is the author of Free of Me: Why Life Is Better When It’s Not About You.