Do you ever feel like your past is holding you back in your ministry? Similar to a marathon runner carrying unnecessary gear, we sometimes have worries, wounds, and wrongs that slow us down. The Bible often compares life to a marathon race. A marathon isn’t the kind of race you can hurry through. For most runners, the point of a marathon isn’t to see who finishes first; it’s to see who can last to the end.
The same goes for ministry. Learning to finish well is one of the most important lessons you can learn as a church leader. Serious marathon runners always remove extra items from their body when they’re running a race. They don’t want to carry a lot of baggage. They avoid carrying unnecessary gear and wear as little as possible, opting for t-shirts and shorts even in cold weather.
They don’t want anything to slow them down or hold them back.
That’s how God wants us to lead in ministry—with little holding us back. So what’s holding you back?
Here are three areas of your life where you may need to let go of something to thrive in ministry.
1.Let go of your worries.
As a ministry leader, you’re likely carrying more than your share of worries. You’re worried about your family. You’re worried about your church. You’re worried about the people you lead. Then you also have all the worries that other people bring to you each day. If you let them, those worries will keep you from what God wants to do through your life and ministry.
That’s why the Lord tells us, “Let go of your concerns. Then you will know that I am God. I rule the nations. I rule the earth” (Psalm 46:10 GW).
When you worry, you take on a role that is God’s alone. You’re acting like God won’t give you what you need. But he will!
No amount of therapy, fads, diets, pills, seminars, or conferences can take away those worries. But Paul tells us prayer can. “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done” (Philippians 4:6-7 NLT).
2. Let go of your wounds.
We’ve all been hurt. We’ve all been rejected, misunderstood, devalued, and overlooked. All leaders—all people, in fact—experience pain. Unfortunately, we often rehearse those hurts. We go over and over them in our heads. Every time we rehearse them, we’re allowing people in our past to control our present. That’s not wise.
We have a choice to make. We can’t let other people continue to hurt us. Resentment literally means “to cut again.” When you rehearse the pain, you’re reopening the wound.
So let the wounds go. “Stop being angry! Turn from your rage! Do not lose your temper—it only leads to harm” (Psalm 37:8 NLT). Decide that, as of today, you won’t rehearse the pain again.
The only way to let go of your wounds is to forgive whoever has hurt you (Ephesians 4:31-32). It doesn’t matter if the person deserves it. Do it for your benefit. Do it because it’s right.
3. Let go of your wrongs.
Guilt cripples us. It will disconnect us from God, depress us, and dominate our minds if we let it. We all have sins, mistakes, regrets, and failures that we wish we could take back. We can’t undo our past—but we can confess it. In fact, that’s the only way we can move past our sin.
God has given us a wonderful promise in the Bible that all of us should claim: “If we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness” (1 John 1:9 NLT).
I’m a big believer in keeping short accounts with God. You don’t just take your garbage out once a year. If you did that, your house would stink. The same is true of your relationship with God. You can’t let your garbage pile up.
So, pastor, I encourage you to get alone with God and ask him, “What is the garbage between you and me?” Do it every day, without fail.
If you’ve been carrying worries, wounds, and wrongs, let them go—all of them.
Often, when I went fishing with my dad, I would notoriously get my fishing lines tangled. Those tangled lines taught me something important: No one who fishes tries to untangle all the lines; you simply cut them off and pull out a new one.
That’s what you need to do with your worries, wounds, and wrongs. Don’t spend another minute trying to fix the blame. Don’t try your hand at revenge.
The Bible teaches us that God’s mercies are new every morning (Lamentations 3:22-23). You can always move on from the pain in your past. You can always cut the line and start over.
Isn’t that good news?