Ministry Life

Ministry Life: When I Quit Doing the Holy Spirit’s Work

Trying to solve the problems in the lives of others will wear you out.

This article first appeared in Ladiesin Service, a publication from the Oregon Conference.

As a young minister’s wife, I had great zeal. I felt compelled to share with others what I had learned. When I saw Christians living far below my ideal of good standards, I endeavored to share the “truth” with them. In situations over which I had no control, such as the incon­sistent life of a conference leader, I became judgmental. In fact, I remember a period in my life when, every time I prayed, one man’s hypocritical, double-standard life flashed into my mind and blocked out God.

Trying to solve the problems in the lives of others wore me out. Stress and frustration robbed me of peace and joy. I knew that my own relationship with Jesus fell far below my ideal. I studied harder, prayed more, worked beyond my strength, thinking God had called me to be the “Watchman in Zion.” Then a friend said, “Eileen, when are you going to quit doing the work of the Holy Spirit?” Her statement shocked me.

Through this friend, God showed me that as I set myself up as a standard for others, I made everyone uncomfortable. I made my opinions and views of duty a criterion for others. I condemned them for not reaching my ideal.

Horror-stricken, I realized that my mistaken zeal for Christ had made me a little “anti-Christ.” I begged Jesus to forgive me for taking His place as judge of all the universe.

What a difference in my life since I began to learn to stay out of God’s way. I understand that my duty is to pray that His Holy Spirit will bring conviction and conversion to those in our ministry. Not only do I have wonderful peace and joy—and much less stress—but God has brought remarkable conversions. Now I plead for the Holy Spirit to take control of the lives of those I love. Sometimes the Holy Spirit works through me upon the minds of others. At other times, He fills the mind and heart of the one for whom I pray.

This drastic change in my attitude has freed me, so that I can now enjoy and appreciate people who differ from me. I no longer feel compelled to change these people. I can accept them as they are knowing that God will finish His work for them without my help.

More than that, I am content with wherever He puts me. I’m not striving to achieve, to win approval, for I know that with God, I don’t have to prove anything to others. I find great joy in little things, such as taking church members’ children on a wildflower walk, listening to a divorced mother’s problems, praying with a grand­mother for her wayward grandchildren, teaching a Sab­bath School class, or opening the wonders of Revelation to a neighborhood study group. My knowledge and love of God allows me to let Him carry the heavy burdens. My joy is to accept the sweet peace and rest of being yoked with Him. Whenever I feel uptight about something, I am aware that the Holy Spirit is saying to me, “Eileen, you’re slipping back into your old rut. Didn’t I tell you in Matthew 11:28-30 that your burdens will always be pleasant and light? Relax. Turn everything that bothers you over to Me.”