Friday, January 15, 2010

Stepping Down Is Hard to Do

I didn’t want to stop. My husband had been trying to coax me to give it up for months, years in fact.

Questions burned in my conscience: How would I explain the change to people? Who would take my place? Wouldn’t I be turning my back on a calling of the Lord, being unfaithful to the singing talent He’d given me?

Finally realizing I wasn’t doing the Lord or His sheep any favors by spreading myself so thin, I relented. I quit leading worship on Sunday mornings. Ahhh… the peace in my soul shouts its thanks.

Now I can attend worship without the pressure of leading music to a crowd of non-musical saints, half of whom never sing. I can stand in my own pew in the second row, lift my hands in praise to Jesus, and forget about everyone else.

Just me and my Shepherd. I love it.

Sound kinda selfish? I understand why it might.

But… after ten years of leading, struggling to exemplify how to enter into worship, wearying myself to wring expensive wine out of Mountain Dew cans, I had to face the truth: God may have gifted me with a nice singing voice, I may love to worship Him, but I must admit when I’m not bearing fruit, and step down.

This isn’t bowing to defeat. It’s spending my talents in ways that bring me and others joy. It’s freeing me to focus on teaching, which I love, and writing, which I love more. And I can sing when I travel and speak, or for weddings and funerals. So there.

Have you ever had to eliminate a ministry or task after realizing it was draining you? Was it tough to step down?


  1. Sunday school teaching. Yes, there are still days I wish I hadn't, but in the end I know it was the right thing to do. I'm busy organizing for adult education now--that's keeping me busy enough.

  2. Oh Jen, I totally know what you mean! At my new church, they found out I could sing and they needed an alto, so they asked me to sing on the praise team. I didn't realize it meant every single Sunday! It is so hard for me to really lose myself in worship when I sing up front into a microphone. I am more concerned about the notes coming out of my mouth than praising the Lord. (Good news though, an alto has stepped forward and I think we are going to rotate!!!! PTL!)

    I think just because we have a talent or gift doesn't mean the Lord wants us to use it until we run it into the ground and weary ourselves in the process. He wants His giftings to bless not only others, but you as well.

    Kudos to you for recognizing your season has passed and stepping down. (Not to say you won't ever take it up again.) God will still keep using you and your giftings...for I know you have MANY!

  3. I stepped down from leading a MOMS ministry once and I felt right about it. I knew I'd put in the time God called me to. It felt like a seasonal charge and I was released.

    I'm so glad I've never tried to sing. People would run from the church with hands over their ears.

    ~ Wendy

  4. God must have been calling someone else to ministry and wanted you to just rest in His peace. It all works out, right?

    To your question, we've always helped in our children's program at church and this year it was changed up so much we knew it didn't fit our calling. It was so hard to say 'no' but perhaps it was necessary. I know God has a plan but it hasn't been revealed yet. All in His timing I suppose but I do feel an emptiness.

  5. I have before--like letting go of my writing group but I knew I needed to focus on getting a job. I miss them but I also knew it frustrated me to no end sometimes when attendance wasn't where I thought it should be or writers weren't working on their craft as hard as I thought they should me! LOL so I am better off and more patient now than I was!

  6. I'm so glad that you feel the peace of God! I'm sure your season as worship leader blessed many of the members to develop a deeper worship experience.

    One of the reasons I love worship is the outward adoration that pours from my spirit. Everyone fades from around me. Enjoy your time in worship dear sister!

  7. Yes! It was singing for me too. Not so much the lack of response but other factors. I dreaded doing it. It was redemptive for a while, because I'd had a bad experience leading worship in the past and doing it again restored something me. But I'd return from church so drained, not refreshed at all. I stopped being worship.

  8. Oh I've totally had to pare back some of my "other" ministries. And I now am trying to look at my writing as a new, very valid ministry that will touch hearts too. Someday, perhaps the Lord will open other doors again, but at this stage in my life, I believe he's calling me to focus my time and energy into this specific talent that he's given me. It's hard, but I think you did the right thing!!

  9. Thanks, dear friends, for your candor. It' great to know I'm not the only one.

    Now if I could just step down from laundry and dishes...

  10. Lately I had to make a touch choice about not leading a conference only days after another conference. The timing wasn't right.

    A wise young woman yesterday told me, "God doesn't want just good things. He wants the best."

    Hmmm. Smacks of Mary and Martha, doesn't it?

    Love this blog...and you!

  11. Oh yes, I have thought of leaving the worship team many times. Im like you, it's a difficult decision. Singing has been my life for so many years, I can't imagine not doing it. Im so glad you are following the Lord's leading. I think in your case, there are much bigger things in store.

  12. When we get rid of one thing in our lives, it opens up room for something else to come in. what will be next for you? Can't wait to see. Plus, if God's not still wanting you for singing, He will not be in it and bless it. Glad you obeyed Him, He will honor you. :O)

  13. For a number of years, I taught Children's Church. God gave me the grace to do it for a time, but it was not my gift. I breathed a huge sigh of relief when that assignment ended (after four years).

    Susan :)

  14. It's very difficult to step down from church related activities. I quit teaching Sunday School after last year. I'd taught throughout college and came back last year, but my Sundays felt too busy. I'm thankful I stepped down, because Sundays are truly a day of rest now.

  15. Ah, you are moving into a different thing - no matter how good and right it is, the transition can sometimes be a challenge. Been there, and am thankful the Lord has helped me adjust. Blessings for the weekend:)

  16. Surely you'll find the decision a blessing, Jen. Good for you. And worry not about what others may think; it's between you and God.

    I've turned church things down before, because sometimes I'm uncomfortable with what's asked of me. We all worship in different ways; we all fulfill different roles for Him. I've prayed for any sign that that's wrong, and so far He's not given me one.

    Have a great weekend, friend.

  17. First of all I want to say I love your pictures. That rodent is too much and I love the tender Shepherd one. I am sure you made the right decision, even though you had many years of quality service. I am so glad you are moving on to what is fresh and new for you. It will be fabulous.

  18. Jeanette:
    In 2002, I chose to worship elsewhere. I had been in this former church for 17 years. But there were too many issues that bothered a friend of mine and me.
    At that time, I was having stomach problems, acid reflux. When I turned in the key, the hymnal and other items that belonged to the church and told the pastor,I didn't have any more problems with my stomach.

  19. What, people don't sing? I'd scare you if you stood next to me while I was belting out songs in my broken, gravelly, off-tune voice. LOL

    I did step down from helping with teens when I had my third son because I felt like I didn't have the time (staying after, going to functions etc) to really form relationships with the teens.

  20. Jen, yes, to leave working with the youth ministry when we felt called to another church. But the peace in following God's will became the joy, like you wrote. AND I see you are 90% finished with your WIP! Hooray! Blessings*

  21. I can't even count how many times I have done this! I just seem to say YES to EVERYTHING!!!

    It is hard to step down but it leaves a space open for somebody to step up!!!

    -Alisa Hope

  22. Oh, yes! Tougher than I imagined. I was the music director at our church for 14 years, coaxed to continue three more years after my husband retired as the minister. I loved the music and the people, but was beginning to find the leadership aspect draining. I also missed accompanying my DH when he travelled and preached at other churches. The stress got so bad that I knew God was trying to tell me something but still I couldn't find a volunteer to take over my job. My nerves finally dictated that I retire and let the church elders worry about my successor. Only after I had actually vacated the position did someone else step forward. God's timing was perfect.

    Now I'm free to pursue other interests. My commitments are flexible and I'm free to accompany my DH and volunteer in other areas. I also have the time to write more. :)

    I've come to believe that God wants us to use some common sense and take care of ourselves. We are, after all, his creation. As long as we're following his leading and doing something with our talents he doesn't expect us to do everything until we're so weary and/or ill that we can do nothing. I've finally learned how to say "I'm sorry, but no" without feeling guilty. It only took me 50 years to figure that out!


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