Front Row Thoughts

Our family is leaving the ministry. At least for a season.  The reasons that have led us to this place are both deeply personal and painful.  I definitely feel it is what’s best for us for now but that doesn’t change the fact that I’m still having to wrestle with this at a soul level.  

I’m struggling as I grapple for a new identity outside one where we are formally laboring for Christ as a way of life - and a paying job.  As I searched for metaphors and reached for things of comparison to help me process and understand, this analogy came to mind.  It’s as if there’s this huge venue where God is on stage and the feature presentation is His Kingdom and its advancement.  As those who labor for him in full-time vocational ministry, it feels like we get a front row seat to what God is doing.  Like the first 3 rows at a concert that are reserved for certain individuals, we are front and center to Kingdom work.  

Stepping out of ministry feels like being asked to move from Row 2 Seat 8 to Row 84 Seat 14.  No longer down in front, there’s a feeling of being relegated to ordinary regularity in the Kingdom.  Once you’ve been down front, you like being there - like it’s vantage point, like having your finger on the pulse of ministering to people, and like the proximity of the platform and microphone for declaring the gospel to a world who desperately needs it.  

Having been a military family for quite some time now, allow me to use an Army analogy inside this venue analogy to further explain.  In the Army, a special tab (or patch) is reserved for those individuals who have persevered through and answered the calling of Ranger School.  It can proudly be worn on the individuals uniform for the remainder of his/her career.  This patch is a distinguished one and simply says “Ranger”.  There is another patch, although not worn on uniforms, that I’ve seen floating around which is similar in shape and size but its wording is a humorous way of describing everyone else who couldn’t (or wouldn’t even try to) cut it in Ranger School.  It says “Regular Guy”.

Going from Ranger to Regular Guy, so to speak, is proving to be a tough transition for me.  But when I think deeply about what it means to be a gospel-centered person, I realize that my position in Christ is unaffected by which row or seat I’m in.  My place as his daughter in the family of God is still secure.  I am no more nor no less loved by moving a few rows back.  My ability to obey, glorify, and please him through the work of my hands won’t change either - because, whether sacred or secular, I’ll be doing all that my hands find to do as if I’m working for the Lord.  My seat may have changed but my position in Christ hasn’t.

If I can be permitted to carry out my large venue analogy a little further, here’s one additional observation.  When it comes to serving in the upside down Kingdom of Christ, maybe I’ve had it all wrong to begin with.  Who God has really called us to be as servants of his Kingdom probably looks less like a VIP and a lot more like those ushers who met us at the door and guided us to our seat.  They labor in various ways, at various spots throughout the arena, doing various tasks - none greater than the other.  But all serve with one task in mind - to usher in as many people into their seats as they can before the lights go down.  


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