From the time of my first youth staff position, my bosses and mentors trained me to be aware of the example I was setting for my students. Whether you agree with it or not, there is a certain level of public moral policing of paid church workers. My guideposts on lifestyle issues became less of a moral compass and more like mandates in a perfectionist’s mind. I was particularly aware of even the appearance of deficiencies. What clothes I wore, what books I read, what movies I saw – these were all scrutinized under the magnifying glass of being a great role model.
One area of modeling where I had strong self imposed rules was alcohol consumption. I was rigid about the ways that I avoided alcohol. We didn’t have it in our home. We did not drink in the county. 2007 was the first time in my adult life that I was not on staff at a church. This single fact lifted the black and white veil of my life and allowed new perceived freedoms. I felt free to have a beer in public or even have alcohol in my home, which up to this point as a 30 year-old, I had never done.
I often find myself after a day of mommy crazy thinking, I deserve a drink! the thought fed the desire and the desire led to action. Before I knew it, I was drinking most nights, many time after the kids and Lucas were in bed. What started as a way to relieve stress quickly turned into a ritual of release. In my experience, drinking your emotions is a sure sign that your motives are off. Why do I tell this story in the midst of our church planting joy? Because they coexisted. I was living the stay-at-home mom dream during the day, reading everything I could get my hands on about the postmodern church and simultaneously spinning out of control.
This is the ugly truth about ministry. For so many the isolation and weight of being a spiritual leader is back-breaking. In the midst of trying to be and do all things for Jesus, we feel inadequate, ill-equipped and weak. From that place, we grown anger, bitter and discontent. And in the mind of an addict, there are deadly traits. Rather than seeking Sabbath and soul rest, we push down the hard by controlling our food or drink. Just like everything in life, the holistic nature of our world means that in the absence of health our issues will continue to come to the surface.The undercurrent of the approaching tsunami be seen in the little things.